Thursday, May 26, 2011

The State of CIO: 50 Things to Know Before Becoming CIO

Paul Coby is one of the most successful and admired CIO of our times. He was instrumental in launching a number of innovative passenger friendly technologies at British Airways. Paul has been credited with launching a number of "Airline industry first" applications such as Online Booking, Online Check-in and recently mobile boarding pass for British Airways. And this while reducing the cost of IT Operations by 60% over a period of 10 years.

So when the invite of La Fosse Event featuring him arrived, I was keen to attend. It was a high quality event as previous La Fosse events have been. Paul's presentation revolved around key concepts from his book, "50 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Becoming a CIO". Essentially it was a "Lessons Learnt" from the practiotioner on the essentials of being a CIO. The session was interactive, complete with anecdotes based on his rich experience and was followed by valuable Q&A session. Some of the key concepts which Paul shared were;

How to Approach the CIO Role? 
  • Enjoy being a CIO
  • Plan time strategically
  • Don’t be afraid of technology
  • Operational performance matters so focus on it
  • There are no IT projects only business projects
  • Understand your industry and love itAppoint IT business partner who will champion business 
  • Communicate Communicate - Project IT performance across business
  • Benchmark your performance
  • Become non-executive director in other business to understand board expectations

How to Keep the IT function Running Smoothly
·         Keep IT simple
·         Be visible as IT function and celebrate success
·         Enter business transformation space
·         Eliminate shadow it dept in business
·         Become champion of business simplification
·         Innovate
·         Really be part of your company

How to Push Boundaries of the Role
·         Know where IT should be: Leading edge, Fast follower and Commodity
·         Use your authority and power as a CIO
·         Understand your CEO’s business strategy and support it
·         Develop supportive relations with fellow directors
·         Spend time with board members
·         Reduce cost of IT year on year
·         Work closely with HR, Finance

How to Manage Teams Effectively
·         Develop direct reports
·         Ensure you have genuine technology experts in your team
·         Value PA and core team
·         Grow project and program management skills
·         Recognise importance of Operations team and people
·         Get IT organisation structure right

How to Ensure Success in Execution
·         Personally review projects
·         Subdivide team into subgroups
·         Have clear objectives
·         Look after pennies
·         Monitor audit reports
·         Reward who delivers
·         Suppliers mater
·     Enforce technology standards – They will reduce complexity, hence cost and improve speed to delivery
·         Develop win-win

In addition to this Paul also talked about a few evolving aspects of the job such as;

Future Trends to watch out for a CIO
·         Computerisation - Everything is an APP and easier to use
·         Connectivity - Everyone connected: Things, People, Processes
·         Convergence - Above plus location and things awareness
·         Collaborate - Tools for us to connect work and pay and in between things
·         Cloud - Commodatisation of IT

What will see a CIO through in 2011?
·         Focus on real customers
·         Getting onto business strategic agenda
·         Loving the technology
·         Cutting he cost
·         Managing suppliers
·         Leading your people

Many thanks and well done to La Fosse team for pulling together another high quality event. Simon if I may suggest, no harm in starting events management company in addition to core recruitment business! :-) Already looking forward to next event!


  1. Alexander korniakMay 27, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    I was lucky enough to attend last night’s event which I thought was well organised. The event was very well attended considering most of the delegates’ resembled drowned rats due to most of us been caught in a huge thunder storm on the way.

    Paul Coby‘s presentation was enjoyable, informative and not the typical hard sell from an author trying to promote his book. I believe this was well received by the delegates and hopefully many of them will reflect on Paul's experience in the future, I certainly will.

  2. Yes I agree Alexander. It was an insightful session from a well-acknowledged leader of our industry. What I liked the most (and i failed to capture in my blog) was the human touch which Paul puts on execution. Remarkable leader and remarkable evening.

  3. I also attended last night's event and found Paul's presentation informative, entertaining and, on more than one occasion, thought-provoking. The event organisation was, as always with La Fosse events, first class and a great chance to network and meet their team.

  4. Thanks Amitabh - nice work.

    Agree with the comments on excellent organisation and a great presentation. Reflected well on all concerned. Will be interesting to see how John Lewis shapes up !

  5. Another "drowned rat" to made it to the event. I can only echo what previous posts have mentioned - excellent organisation by La Fosse and Paul was a very insightful and engaging speaker: some very useful tips. I also learnt a thing or two about Roman history!

  6. I was also there - and agree it was an excellent event and an equally excellent presentation. I've also invested in Paul's book (available from

    Thanks to Simon and the LaFosse team for organising a great evening.


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