by Anne Moises

The CIO Questionnaire: Anne Moises, CIO of the Scottish Government

Jun 20, 2010
CareersGovernmentIT Leadership

Anne Moises wants to cut out the tech talk, encourage mentoring and make IT a more attractive career for women.

Q. Where were you born? A. Glasgow.

Q. How many people work in your IT department? A. In-house there are about 300, including information management professionals as well as traditional IT staff. The outsourced team is our systems integration partner with a core staff of eight.

Q. What is the size of your IT budget? A. The running costs are £25m. We are subject to the same constraints as the rest of the public sector due to the economic climate and I see our IT budget decreasing over the next few years. We have to be more innovative with the IT that we have, and ensure that value comes with anything new that we are delivering – that is both value for money and value to the business, and we will be offering and using shared services. Currently my IT department delivers shared services for the Scottish Government, a number of agencies and non-departmental public bodies. We also make use of shared services, taking server hosting from a Scottish local authority, South Lanarkshire.

Q. What is the basic structure of your IT department? A. Organisational structure is in two parts, one running the operational elements (applications support and so on), and the other looking after the strategic, customer engagement and compliance elements. On the infrastructure, there are 10,000 users split across multiple locations, including Whitehall, Brussels and the Scottish islands. The basic corporate infrastructure is centralised. Some customers will have localised business applications on site, but we are in the process of virtualising and centralising these where practical.

Q. Who are your key suppliers? A. Oracle, Logica, SAS, Microsoft, Cable and Wireless, IBM, Dell, Fujitsu, Objective.

Q. Who has been the most influential person in your career? A. I would think an ex-director of IT, Maureen McGinn, at what was then the Scottish Office. She provided an inspiration, a role model for me. She demonstrated that you could and should bring emotional intelligence as well as technical know-how into the provision and support of IT. It needs emotional intelligence because IT systems don’t run in a vacuum. The most important aspect is the people who use IT. Maureen demonstrated that understanding people is as important as understanding technology.

Q. Do you believe in mentoring? A. Yes. I have been coached formally, but I have also seen it work wonders for other people and I have started to mentor myself. The Scottish Government has a fairly formal framework around mentoring and it supports staff in how to do it properly. It helps us to build on their aspirations and competencies. A typical mentoring engagement would normally be for about a 10-week period, focusing on a person’s skill sets and knowledge that they wanted to explore and develop. My current engagement is with someone outside of IT who wants to learn how to deal with working in a predominantly male-orientated environment. There are less women coming into IT across the board. They appear to get turned off at an early age, and they so they don’t see IT as a viable career. Within my IT department we are doing something to help address this.

Q. Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating?  A. The most success in communication is when you keep your message simple and in plain English. Don’t blind your audience with jargon and explain things in a way that your audience can relate to.

Q. What has been your biggest mistake? A. Probably not grasping this point earlier on in my career. As a young programmer I didn’t realise soon enough that the people I needed to communicate with were the people outside of IT and not the ones within it. Fortunately I cottoned on to the problem and addressed this long before my current role. Some people don’t – they think jargon and in-depth ‘techno speak’ enhances their professional status without realising the effect this can have in alienating others.

Q. And your greatest success? A. The greatest ongoing success is probably putting in place a formal career development structure for ICT staff in the Scottish Government designed to help individuals to develop skills to meet their own aspirations and build the capability of IT within the organisation.

Q. How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? A. The usual ways of reading the journals, attending conferences, and most importantly talking to people. Within the public sector, the CIO Council has been invaluable in helping the CIO Community to understand our common challenges and how we can address these collectively.

Q. Which word or phrase do you overuse? A. I am probably using ‘cloud computing’ too much at the moment, but it’s very difficult to avoid it. It’s also the most overused expression across the IT industry and I am trying to break myself out of the habit. My problem with ‘cloud’ is that it means different things to different people.  So do you mean SaaS, or something that is related to the infrastructure?

Q. Which business (or other) books have been influential in your career? A. Creating Public Value by Mark Moore.