Diverse employees

The IT skills gap and recruitment were major concerns again for CIOs in 2014. In our latest round-up we look back at what business and technology leaders had to say about recruitment, IT skills, and tackling a lack of diversity in the sector.

"We have still a long way to go, and the talent gaps will get wider before they get narrower."
Former Peabody IT director Martin Carpenter

Halfords CIO" alt="Anna Barsby, Halfords CIO" src="//www.cio.co.uk/cmsdata/features/3591045/AnnaBarsbyHalfords011.jpg" height="150" width="200" />"My first big job was to sort out the people in the team – fix the basics in year one and then spend two years of transformation as part of a three-year plan.

"The key thing for me was to get their hearts and minds, and tell them it's going to be amazing. I found it remarkably easy to bring in great talent. Some people came from my network, but a good agency also helped. We've raised the skills bar with a mixture of experienced Halfords people plus staff from financial services and travel sectors – and that blend is working really well.

"There was a culture of order takers and I've had to coach a few people to get them to tell me what they think by saying: 'Your job is to recommend a way of doing things and you have a voice'. It's a very different role to challenge the business, so it's been a big culture shift."
Anna Barsby, Halfords CIO

"People don’t leave companies, they leave managers."
Former JLT Group CIO Ian Cohen

"It's a challenge for us as a company because coming from a strong editorial base we have a lot of people who are very detail-oriented and like refining things until they're perfect. It's the purpose of editorial, but with digital products it's much more important to get a minimum product to market quickly and then change it every two weeks, so product ownership is a real challenge."
Stephen Devlin, Macmillan Science and Education CTO

"Some 35% of our employees have PhDs and there is a challenge in retaining them and how my team can support HR in retention."
Former LGC CIO Gideon Kay

"We have nine apprentices on board and we are launching this apprenticeship scheme across the entire public sector in Wales so that there can be an exchange scheme across departments.

"We will build the skills here in the public sector and then companies will come to Wales.

"We are trying to do our bit. The key thing with the apprenticeships is that the government must embrace vendor qualifications. We accept that the apprentices will leave and that is great as it means there are more skilled people in Wales. We have already found keen youngsters, especially in North Wales where there were limited opportunities. We did not look at base skills, but instead looked for optimism and an attitude that was keen."
Martin Britton, Natural Resources Wales CIO

"The team is trained with a deep understanding of the organisation, so we can focus on how we deliver. It will be about how we develop the story and improve the collaboration and communications internally."
Ian Alderton, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi CIO

"I've also introduced mandatory work experience. Nobody can work in our team unless they spend time working away from our headquarters – so we have a blog where people post their pictures and experiences of working in different properties."
Sarah Flannigan, National Trust CIO

Trevor Didcock, easyJet CIO

"Our employee brand lags our consumer brand and yet we are a fantastic place to work.

"You have the whole of easyJet here and there is a buzz with a great environment where you work with the engineers and the operations staff.

"We are also doing a lot of work to structure people’s careers so that we can give people more of a career.

"We are trying to make sure we give people the opportunity to train and we are moving a lot of legacy skills into our supplier base so that we can keep our people up to date."
Trevor Didcock, easyJet CIO

"People who do really well here have worked in environments of delivering technology on time, so generally come from the media or finance sectors. They are people from high-pressure environments who are used to working with smart, demanding people and, as technology experts, they respond well to high pressure. And I also want people on the team that want to grow."
Barry Smith, Foster and Partners head of IT

"I'm trying to hire people who want to be part of the transformation.

"We're looking for lots of different people to grow the internal team, whether it be delivering the portfolio, managing the service or architecture. We've got great strength in there, but we need to keep growing."
Mike Sackman, Argos CIO

Mike Bracken, GDS CDO

"People want to work with people they like, and work on stuff that matters, which is one of the reasons the GDS has been a success.

"We're attracting people because we're touching almost 70 million people; if you're selling fizzy drinks you might struggle to meet that person's values."
Mike Bracken, GDS CDO

"The new world is about inspiring and engaging your team.

"The best ideas don't come from me but from the team I nurture. My job is to serve them more than they serve me."
Graham Benson, M and M IT director

"A key objective of mine will be to establish, lead and inspire a high performing technology team to deliver against our commercial objectives."
Adam Gerrard, Yodel CIO

"Stereotyping is a big issue; it's a shortcut for those who can't be bothered to think critically and it starts super early with toys like Lego - which is engineering for boys and pink houses for girls.

"I'm trying to help girls understand technology careers are not boring. They are for interesting, fascinating people who want to use their brains in critical ways.

"So we need to challenge the stereotypes, assertively and with quiet confidence. As long as we challenge stereotypes, the world will move on.

"It's the change that those in leadership can make that can have a ripple effect."
Billie Laidlaw, RSPCA head of IT

"Having worked in the IT industry for over 20 years, and been the only female in the room on many occasions, I can say with some certainty that we haven't yet resolved the challenge of attracting an equal balance of men and women into the industry."
Monique Morrow, Cisco CTO

"Prospective employees are asking more about mobility, values, work-life balance and how progressive we are. You can say its cosmetic and window dressing, but we have very discerning employees who look at reputation beyond how much money they are going to make.
Richard Hodkinson, DWF LLP CTO

Kim Stevenson, Intel CIO

"The best boards are made up of people that have a diverse set of experiences that can be leveraged by management to help the company perform competitively.

"I think more and more boards will end up with technical individuals because the opportunities for the company are too great, and the liabilities are only going up.

"We shouldn't really need to focus on why it's important having a diverse workforce; diverse teams produce better results and that can be diversity in gender, skillset, or culture. It creates a better understanding of who the ultimate end-customer will be.

"At Intel we are very focused about diversity, about asking what we are doing to ensure we have a pipeline and workforce and a set of leaders that are diverse by nature. And I think we are slightly better than some of the tech industry but not satisfied by any stretch of the imagination."
Kim Stevenson, Intel CIO

"We reject a lot of people who have the right skills; but we need a group of people who have a team spirit and work together to get something done.

"We have really small teams of highly-skilled people - of experienced leaders who can coach and young emerging talent.

"And if they think they are getting better everyday and have a chance to grow they stay."
Stuart Hughes, Laterooms.com CTO