Where were you born?
Jackmans Estate, Letchworth, Herts.
How many people work in your IT department?
120 across five divisions.
What is the size of your IT budget?
£20m per annum.
What percentage of annual turnover does IT represent?
Within Specialist & Activity, two per cent.
What is the basic structure of your IT department?
We have a number of central teams reporting directly to me:
- Project office running the strategic projects;
- Web development and data warehouse teams developing efficient solutions on shared platforms;
- Selling systems team managing the activities of key selling system suppliers.
I also have five heads of IT managing the specific requirements of each division.
Who have been the most influential people in your career?
My family, and Jon Baily – a colleague at Dell: the driving force behind developing and rolling out a global order management system in the face of political adversity.
Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating?
1. Treat everyone with equal respect.
2. Face to face whenever possible — nothing is more effective than pressing the flesh.
3. Tailor the style to the individual — in some cases be understanding and objective. In others be bright, be quick, be gone!
4. Try not to use email when communicating with someone in the same building.
5. Set aside times for communicating with key individuals — never rely on catching up when you next have a spare 30 minutes.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Not insuring my dog has to come pretty high up the list — it cost me a small fortune. Other than that, relying on a previous boss thinking he had my best interests at heart.
And your greatest success?
My children — corny but true.
How do you keep up to date with the march of technology?
Obviously CIO Business email updates. Other than that — networking and experience. I have never been one to hide in the corner and read theory.
How do you deal with stress?
Keeping busy and active outside work.
What profession would you most/least like to attempt?
Most: Landscape Gardener.
Least: a butcher — fortunately my father changed profession before I had to take that career path in the family business.
Which word or phrase do you most use?
"Who is this faceless entity The Business that we're waiting for a decision from? We are part of The Business, so find out!"
Which business (or other) books have been influential in your career?
Bob Geldof's autobiography Is That It? I'm thinking of writing Is That IT?
The Book of Romans in the Bible takes some beating too.
Do you have a sport you practice?
Any competitive sport — darts has made a resurgence in the Thompson household. My footballing days are long gone but I coach my son's side.
What else do you do outside of work?
Activities at local church, squash, running, gardening and charity work.