by Ian Dyson

The CIO Questionnaire: Ian Dyson of The Co-operative Group

Jun 17, 2010
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Ian Dyson, Director of IS for the Trading Group of The Co-operative Group has been with the resurgent retailer for 30 years and is leading the company’s IT strategy through one of its most interesting periods. He took some time from his schedule of infrastructure changes to answer the CIO questionnaire.

Where were you born? Ashton-under-Lyne

How many people work in your IT department? 370

What is the size of your annual IT budget? Revenue £50m Capital £25m average

What percentage of annual turnover does IT represent? 0.5 per cent

What is the basic structure of your IT department? Eight teams in total split between business facing and corporate IT teams. Four business facing teams looking after Food, Pharmacy, Travel and Specialist Retail and four corporate teams looking after corporate functions and infrastructure

Who are your key suppliers? HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, BT, SCC, O2

Who has/have been the most influential people in your career? The current Chief Executive of the Co-operative Group, Peter Marks. His focus, passion and commitment to the business is outstanding which has a strong and supportive influence on his management team.

Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up/down/across? Quite simply being myself and being very factual. The message delivered is then consistent to all levels with just varying degrees of detail

What has been your biggest mistake? Not adopting a comprehensive charging model for IT services from the start. With such a diversified business at the Co-operative Group it’s important that the business fully understands the true cost of IT. A successful re-charge model certainly helps to drive behaviours!

And your greatest success? Obtaining my current position and integrating two large organisations whilst successfully reducing the overall cost base and introducing new technologies

How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? I use a variety of sources including journals, trade shows, Internet, supplier relationships and networking with other CIO’s and IT Directors

How do you deal with stress? I try not to let stress become an issue even though the role involves a considerable amount of pressure and challenge. I have to remain focussed and channel all my energies into what really matters to the business and stay committed and dogged with achieving goals and delivering strategy.

What profession would you most/least like to attempt? I would least like to follow an acting profession as my personality would be a complete clash – I simply can’t be someone I am not.

Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse? I overuse one particular phrase “value for money” and a number of words, namely “standardisation, simplify and consolidation”

Which business (or other) books have been influential in your career? Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a great read which I enjoyed and has had an influential impact.

Do you have a sport you practice or sportsperson/team that you follow? I still play five-a-side football on a regular basis and enjoy a round of golf. As a team follower I am a keen Manchester United fan!

What else do you do outside of work? I have a fairly active life outside of work and enjoy walking, cycling, reading, eating out, DIY and of course home computing!