by Vincent Sparks

The CIO Questionnaire: Vincent Sparks, Stobart Group, IT director

Jul 15, 2010
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Haulage company Stobart Group has become a bit of a national legend for its colourful trucks and omnipresence on our roads network. But there is more to the company than trucks, as its IT Director Vincent Sparks explains.

Q. Where were you born? A. Bristol, England

Q. How many people work in your IT department? A. Twenty.

Q. What is the basic structure of your IT department? A. The IT function covers first-, second- and third-line support with internal service desk, infrastructure support (LAN/WAN) and business-related IT projects. All software development is third party and business units own main software applications.

Q. Who are your key suppliers? A. Hardware: IBM, HP, Toshiba, Cisco, Riverbed. Software: Microsoft, Enterprise Software Solutions, Avocent, IBM/Cognos.

Q. Do you believe in mentoring? A. Yes. From my first position in industry as a management trainee I was mentored by a brilliant MD which helped shape my outlook on the world of industry and commerce.

Q. Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up/down/across? A. Simplify the presentation of every aspect of IT in board presentations. Use analogies which people can understand – no bits and bytes at board level.

Q. What has been your biggest mistake? A. A career in IT.

Q. And your greatest success? A. A career in IT.

Q. How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? A. Mainly via the web research and selected reading of Computer Weekly, Computing, CIO, PC Pro, trade magazines, Endgadget and T3. Webinars are now an effective alternative for a quick knowledge fix. Meeting with suppliers and their customers, talking to competitors and piers, CIO events.

Q. How do you deal with stress? A. What stress? IT is easy!

Q. What profession would you most like to attempt? A. Photography – something entirely creative.

Q. Which word or phrase do you most overuse? A. ‘Strategic’!

Q. Do you follow a sport? A. Sports with wheels – no balls.

Q. What else do you do outside of work? A. Photography and motorsport events: touring cars, rally and super bikes.