As the Group Chief Digital and Information Officer for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), John Seglias has been, in the context of the 2017 Brexit referendum vote and a sector tightly intertwined with the EU, one of the busiest CIOs in the country.

Defra is one of the government departments most affected by EU exit and a key player in the Brexit preparations. Seglias has had to reprioritise the IT portfolio for 2017 and beyond to ensure successful delivery of Brexit IT projects as well as other strategic IT initiatives. To make the Brexit IT portfolio (up to 20 IT systems) work, he has implemented a new digital delivery centre and put in place a blended delivery capability that includes in-house scrum teams, contingent labour and external suppliers. All new Brexit work – including CRM, identity, integration and payment – will be delivered using agile and cloud platforms.

Beyond the Brexit focus, Seglias is still driving innovation generally. He has one team proactively identifying and evaluating new IT technologies against business needs and opportunities; it is tracking and analysing 1,800 technologies. Blockchain is being used to track red meat through the supply chain, with a proof of concept under development. And another area of work has been making the most of Defra data, with projects including the use of satellite radar data to detect the presence, and calculate the height, of trees, potentially eliminating the need for expensive site visits across the country.