by Mark Chillingworth

MOD appoints UK Hydrographic Office CIO as CTO

Apr 14, 20153 mins
CareersGovernmentIT Leadership

Ministry of Defence(MOD) CIO Mike Stone has recruited Madhu Bhabuta as CTO. Bhabuta has been CIO of the UK Hydrographic Office, itself  a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence, since September 2013 and has led a major team and technology transformation of the West Country trading fund.

“I was put forward for the role,” Bhabuta told CIO UK. “The new CIO [Mike Stone] has a serious change agenda and was looking for someone to work alongside him in the delivery of the transformation.”

New CIOMike Stone has been with MOD for just under a year, he joined in May 2014 having been CEO of Defence Business Services since 2012. Defence Business Services is an organisation that provides corporate services, HR for example, to the armed forces. In April 2012 Defence Business Services was outsourced by the MoD to Serco.

Stone has been a CIO with BT Global Services and is a former serving British Army officer. Stone joined the Army in September 1976 and remained in the force until 2002.

“It is a big portfolio and I know how much work there is to deliver,” Bhabuta says of her new role. “It is a fantastic opportunity to affect the IT that our troops, service personnel and intelligence agencies use. “

“It has been a fun, action-packed journey,” Bhabuta says of her career at the UK Hydrographic Office (UK HO). Bhabuta explains that the UK HO has to discharge both commercial and military tasks, which means that all the charts that Royal Navy vessels use are produced at no cost to the MOD or the tax payer but are funded via the UKHO’s commercial business.

Bhabuta explains she inherited a dispirited IT organisation that was told it was inefficient and should be outsourced (and in fact, three attempts had been made to oursource it), as a result the incorrect perception was that it could not be agile and respond to changing needs from customers and the organisation.

“The basics were broken, so I told the team we would fix the basics and I would not outsource. When had something that is really, really broken and the staff rose to the challenge of delivering a massive transformation, we changed the storage, -networks, virtualised the servers, rationalised the estate, delivered new clients, revamped the datacenters, delivered a disaster recovery capability, migrated web services to the MS cloud in live. It was akin to pulling the rug from underneath the business, but we did it so well that no one noticed,” she says with evident pride for the re-energised team at UK HO.

The CIO believes the organisation is now in a position to be innovative: “You have to innovate, but on solid foundations, innovation is good for the technology and good for the workforce. UK HO is one of the few hydrographic offices in the world that offers sailors and shipping firms the most complete global paper chart series. It is now time for UKHO to take centre-stage in digital innovation too.”

Bhabuta’s family has a close association with the military, as does the CIO, having also been with Rolls Royce.