By creating award management and knowledge management platforms, Andy Williams has helped fashion a single Save the Children from what were 30 separate charities, all providing aid separately to discrete overseas offices.
What the judges said
"The amount that Williams has to do without any infrastructure, where he's totally reliant on third parties that don't get paid is outstanding. His abilities at stakeholder management, where he has no levers to pull is amazing," Ian Cohen
"He is out in the field a lot and that is a very challenging environment," Edward Qualtrough
Global CIO Save the Children.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
To the CEO currently.
Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Twice a month, once one-to-one and once in her leadership meeting.
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What other executive boards do you sit on?
CIO advisory board of Tech Partnership (previously e-Skills UK).
Does your organisation have a CDO?
No. We have a small digital strategy and design team which work on campaign design.
What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
I am also responsible for managing the portfolio of strategic transformation programmes and providing updates to the executive team on progress.
How many employees does your organisation have?
Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?
How many users does your department supply services to?
How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
I am part of the Strategy 2016-2020 working group.
My team and I work as IT business partners with functional and operational teams, sitting in on their leadership team meetings. Our annual goals and objectives are defined and measured jointly.
I also enforce a policy that myself and each of my leadership team spends a minimum of three weeks a year on field trips, working alongside our frontline staff and meeting the children we are helping.
Save the Children technology strategy and agenda
Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?
Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?
Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in?
Led an executive team discussion on the need to move to a mobile-first programme design philosophy and the risk we face from new 'born on the web' charities.
What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
In 2014 we launched a global award management platform, now used by our fundraising and field staff across more than 60 countries, which has become the repository for all the information about our existing donor grants and our proposals for new programming work. It is the first time Save the Children has ever built and operated a truly global system and set of processes. We supplemented this with a similar global knowledge management platform.
We are about to launch a global warehouse management platform, connecting over 500 warehouses and giving us a consolidated global view of our aid stocks for the first time.
What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
The award management and knowledge management platforms have been key enablers in helping create 'one Save the Children' from the historic model of 30 separate charities, all providing aid separately to discrete overseas offices. It has allowed us to identify our signature programmes and share and use best practice in our new work with emerging donors in the developing world.
The new warehousing system, along with our global financial system implemented in 2013, will help us reduce fraud and operate our supply chain more effectively.
How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
These programmes have required strong technical design but also major changes to ways of working across country, regional and central offices. My leadership style, which I describe as 'networked leadership', has been key to bringing the different groups together and creating the environment for them to design and build systems and processes collaboratively.
What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
In our sector, mobile and cloud technologies are starting to be truly transformational. They allow us to make geography invisible if we get it right.
Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?
What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
We are right at the start of this journey. The vision being discussed by me and the CEO is a world where Save the Children can use big data and analytics to provide the world's most trusted source of real-time data on how to make immediate and lasting changes in the way the world treats children.
How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Mobile and social networking are having a major impact on both fundraising and advocacy and campaigning work. Our donors and supporters in many developed countries are now using mobile as their preferred way of receiving information and donating. Social networks are able to scale our key messages in a way that was impossible even five years ago. We are just beginning to understand how these technologies can also help our fieldwork as many of our communities will access the internet first via mobile and social media. Our challenge in this area is to help the world avoid the digital divide, whereby these resources become another element where mothers and children miss out.
Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Our current approach is that 'if it fits in your hand, you can BYOD'. However, my strategic vision is that any of our employees who wish to BYOD will be able to do so, securely, within three years. Given our employee profile and the situations we work in, we don't expect all our employees to be able to afford their own devices and there are also security issues for some staff in taking valuable IT assets back to their homes. We will have a mixed device ecosystem for some time.
Our executives understand this and we continue to make sure that this choice is not something that stresses our staff. Quite frankly, they have more important issues to worry about and more important choices to make.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
We have a global Office 365 deal with Microsoft, which has saved us about $250k a year. We also completed a global satellite communications deal last year that has let us provide 33% more bandwidth to many of our country offices at same cost.
Who are your main suppliers?
Microsoft, CenturyLink Savvis, Lenovo, Unit 4 (Agresso).
Save the Children IT security and budget
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?
Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?
Has this led to an increase in your security budget?
What is the IT budget?
$30m a year.
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Our current IT strategy is to deliver 'a new ambition for IT' and it will be delivered by the end of 2015. Within this, we will aim to reduce the percentage of IT spend on operations to below 75% and make this resource available for business transformation. In 2016, we will update the IT strategy in line with new business strategy.
Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?
Save the Children technology department
How would you describe your leadership style?
Networked leadership. I describe this as role-based and behavioural, rather than positional and hierarchical. I am mainly facilitative, collaborative but highly influential in a peer-to-peer way across all the organisation. I have told my executive colleagues that IT is not a box on an organisation chart, but the lines between the boxes, and I sometimes say that CIO stands for collaborative influencing officer.
Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I initially needed to restructure the team I inherited and spent several months defining new sets of goals and objectives and introducing the concept of IT business partnering. For the past year, I have engaged an external coach and a series of mentors for my leadership team, using a relationship with my previous commercial employer.
How many employees are in your IT team?
About 200 in my direct organisation and another 50 that I have a dotted line responsibility for.
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
Almost entirely in-house (about 95%) but 90% of these are in low-cost countries in Africa and Asia.
Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?