by Martin Veitch

The CIO Questionnaire: Orange Business Services CIO Vincent Kelly

Jul 08, 20094 mins
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Vincent Kelly is CIO at Orange Business Services, to read the full CIO UK interview with him click here.

Q. Which business books have been influential in your career? A. I have been influenced by a range of books written by different management gurus. These include: Charles Handy with books such asThe Age of Unreason; Peter Drucker and Tom Peters on management; and The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, on globalisation. Q. Who have been the most influential people in your career? A.The people who acted as role models for me at work; people who have trusted me to take on certain projects and roles; people who gave me responsibility early on, and my first opportunities to work overseas on assignments in Europe, the US and Asia. One person in particular was also one of my computing lecturers at Trinity College, Dublin. This person sparked my interest in communications as a key part of information technology. Q. Do you believe in mentoring? A. I believe in regular one-to-one meetings and coaching. This incorporates looking at a key focus through a series of meetings, and talking about improving performance by adapting behaviours. Q. Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating? A. Adopting an open communications style and being honest in what we say are key for me, regardless of whether communicating up, down or across. With our IT staff and teams working in many different countries, it is important to use all available channels of communications. This can involve all of staff conference calls, local face-to-face meetings, team meetings, the intranet, newsletters, mail, cascading through the management chain and so on. Q. What has been your biggest mistake? A. In terms of IT programmes, the biggest mistake has been not getting the governance right up front with all stakeholders on a major programme which led to eventual downstream failure. Q. And your greatest success? A. Most recently, re-engineering our global IT organisation as a result of which Orange Business Services now has a global IT organisation which is an evenly mixed onshore/offshore model. This has given us an organisation which has the right skills at the right cost. Part of the model also is that we leverage group capability and assets within a matrix organisation known as Group IT, which links us with the IT organisations of the other main business units of the Group.

Q. What is your greatest strength? A. Commitment. Q. And your greatest weakness? A. I can be too ‘nice’ Q. How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? A. In Orange/France Telecom, there is a constant flow of internally and externally generated updates on technology, innovation, customers and markets. Listening to my two kids, one at school, the other at university, is also very enlightening. Q. How do you deal with stress? A. Talking to people, playing sport, cycling and reading. I also enjoy re-reading my favourite books such as The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers and The Lord of the Rings. Q. What profession would you most like to attempt? A. Long-distance sailor – at least that’s today’s answer. I am thinking of the challenges of the wind and the sea, of the closeness to nature, of the sense of achievement.

Q. Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse? A. Teamwork. Q. Do you have a sport you practice or sportsperson/team that you follow? A. I enjoy cycling in the Surrey Hills, and jogging to the top. I follow football (Arsenal and Fulham), and rugby with the Irish national and provincial teams. I also follow England with the cricket. “I’ve reported directly to the CEO and the COO, and at the moment it’s our COO Carlos Sartorious,” he says. “Barbara’s focus is customer innovation, growth and so on. It’s important for me to be listening to the business and what are the priorities and pain points of other executives; the important thing is that you’re around the table. “I’m running the IS and my number-one priority is that if you have made a commitment to a customer you deliver a network on time that’s working. “My number-two priority is that the business needs to change, that it has transformation plans… it introduces new products and enhances products and services. Now, the COO role’s focused on the operations of the business and to me that’s -totally different.”

Orange is a CIO 100 ranked company.