James de Watteville has been CIO at insurance giants RSA, formerly known as Royal Sun Alliance, since May 2008. He has a challenge on his hands, as all CIOs do, but having competed in major sailing events, knows about charting a difficult course.
Q: Where were you born?
Q:How many people work in your IT department?
A: Within the department, there are 100 UK based RSA staff, and approximately 900 outsourced in various locations throughout the world.
Q: What is the basic structure of your IT department?
A: I have seven direct reports in the areas of strategy/architecture, service delivery, application delivery, commercial, IS transformation, major programmes and Central Management Information. This ensures that every aspect is covered and everyone is happy, from our customers right through to RSA employees and our service providers.
Q:Who are your key suppliers?
A: Our key suppliers are Accenture; IBM; Cable and Wireless. They are all experts in their field and it was important to me that we hired the very best to meet each and every one of our requirements.
Q:Who has/have been the most influential people in your career?
A: I spent a large portion of my career at Accenture and two of the senior partners there at the same time as me were Paul Burgess and Keith Burgess. I have to say they have been the most influential people in my career to date. Paul taught me how to build and motivate a high performing team and Keith showed my how to be a leader rather than a manager.
Q:Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up/down/across?
A: I rely on face to face contact to engage and influence others. It allows me forge the strong relationships with colleagues necessary to deliver the continuous complex change that goes hand in hand with being a CIO.
I also believe that disclosure of personal details and feelings can disarm people during difficult discussions.
Q:What's your greatest success?
A: Bringing up six children
Q:How do you deal with stress?
A: I try to avoid stressful situations at all costs.
Q: What profession would you most/least like to attempt?
A: I would most like to attempt a career as a Barrister. I would least like to be a dentist. Staring in people's mouths all day doesn't pay nearly as much as it should!
Q:Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse?
A:Boil the ocean
Q: Do you have a sport you practise?
A:I enjoy big boat sailing. I've crossed the Atlantic several years ago and am currently planning to join the famous Sydney to Hobart race.
Q: What else do you do outside of work?
A: Raising a large family with three teenagers and three aged between 3 and 10 tends to fill my free-time!