by Christine Ashton

Thinking beyond the bottom line

Aug 13, 20123 mins
CareersIT Leadership

As the senior technology representatives within businesses, CIOs today are the enablers of change and can empower people within their organisations to make a difference.

But what about when the clock strikes 5.00pm? Do we just shut off that part of our brain that enables us to succeed in our jobs, or do we channel that innovative problem solving mentality to help shape and improve the world outside of the daily grind?

Surely CIOs and the technology industry more broadly, are well placed to drive societal change?

At BG Group, CSR is a big part of what we do. If we can use technology to transport natural gas across continents, then surely we should be doing our bit to stop young people ending up on the streets.

That’s why we are a regular supporter of Byte Night, the technology industry’s sleep out event, in aid of Action for Children.

Byte Night provides crucial funding to help Action for Children tackle the root causes of homelessness.

The charity works with young people at risk of homelessness across the UK, such as those leaving the care system, young people at risk of family breakdown and those who are already without a safe place to sleep.

The money raised from Byte Night helps to keep vulnerable young people off the streets and enable them to build better lives with access to education, secure accommodation and training opportunities.

A team from BG Group took part in Byte Night last year and it was a fantastic experience, both on a personal and collective level.

The nature of the event helps you to connect with the people you are trying to help through a shared experience.

It was also humbling to consider those youngsters who manage to get by without having the world at their fingertips.

With so much existing online today, five minutes on a computer could be the difference between receiving housing benefit or not, or being able to apply for a job.

Working in technology, we are used to having a wealth of tools to help us complete the most simple of tasks. It can be easy to forget about those who don’t have that luxury.

It also helped to bring us together as a team, strengthening relationships and providing a real sense of collective achievement. It also helped us develop a sense of perspective.

When you are dealing with multi-million-pound contracts it can be easy to get lost in the numbers.

Working hard to raise money as a team, helped us to re-establish the understanding of what money is actually worth and how much it can help those in need.

But the principal learning that we took from the evening was the sense that technology can be a driving force for change, outside of business.

We are all as guilty as one another, in becoming too tied-up in our jobs from time to time.

But everyone now and then should raise their eyes from the computer screen and think about the world around them, beyond the confines of their offices.

Christine Ashton is CIO for BG Group

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