by Mark Chillingworth

Halfords CIO Anna Barsby leads 2015 CIO 100

Apr 23, 20154 mins
CareersIT LeadershipRetail Industry

Anna Barsby, CIO of retailer Halfords, has been named the leader of the 2015 CIO 100. Chris Hewertson of hotel business glh and David Jack of Hyperion Insurance follow close behind.

Barsby of outdoor, cycling and motoring retailer Halfords was recognised by the panel of CIO 100 judges for the strength of her leadership to re-energise a business that looked set face the same demise as other major retailers such as Blockbuster and Woolworths. The panel were impressed with how all three leaders in the CIO 100 were tackling head-on the major disruptions within their sectors, in particular from technology. Halfords is competing strongly against a plethora of new online rivals, new out of town retailers and a struggling retail sector as consumer confidence in the national and world economy remains low. Hotel and insurance are also markets that are witnessing major change from new market entrants and customer behaviour.

Barsby takes the number one spot for her focus on people leadership to deliver business transformation and a clear and concise communication of what the strategy is. The midlands-based CIO describes leading 100 people as “definitely a non-technology responsibility”. Barsby’s relationship with other key members of the executive team was also cited by the panel for recognition.

CIO 100 judge Mike Altendorf said: “The senior business people really see Barsby as an equal, and in a business that is facing digital and retail challenges she’s been a part of affecting that change and she is a core part of the executive team.”

Fellow judge Jayne Nickalls described Barsby as “a fantastic role model for the CIO post”, while CIO columnist Ian Cox said: “It is clear she is part of a business team and she’s driving and conceiving elements of the business strategy.”

Hewertson is applauded by the CIO 100 panel for putting the customer – and how the customer wants to use technology during their stay – at the heart of his hotel technology vision. Again, Hewertson impressed the panel with his strategy and communications. David Jack at financial services organisation Hyperion Insurance has been at the forefront of major change at venture capital-owned Hyperion and is shaking up the vendor community as a result. The panel were impressed by the focus on data and the transparency of that data across the organisation.

The top 10 of the 2015 CIO 100 also features Christina Scott of the Financial Times whose increased role to include product ownership and a close involvement in the business strategy impressed the panel. Richard Corbridge, now with the Irish health service, but previously CIO of The Clinical Research Network in the UK, also impressed the panel for his information strategy, modern vendor selection and his move to being a CIO and CEO in Ireland. Also in the public sector James Findlay, CIO of both proposed rail network HS2 and the Department for Transport impressed the panel for his bold new way of managing vendors, projects, the creation of parliamentary Acts and again communication. While so many other Whitehall departments focus on their legacy systems and processes, the panel agreed Findlay was a breath of fresh air.

2014 CIO 100 leaders Stephen Kneebone and Phil Jordan of Nissan Europe and Telefonica respectively remain in the top 15 for their continued transformational leadership at two major global organisations.

While the 2014 CIO 100 highlighted how big organisations can change under transformational leaders like Jordan and Kneebone, the 2015 CIO 100 recognises that mid-sized organisations such as Halfords, glh, Hyperion and the FT are empowering their CIOs to deal with business disruption and lead transformation.

The CIO 100 is a critique of the CIO role to celebrate and highlight the importance of the CIO and their role in business transformation. The list is created by a panel of experts, most of whom have been CIOs at major organisations such as May Gurney, Sony, BBC, NHS, UK government and ICI.