by Steve Chambers

CIO Questionnaire: Steve Chambers, Visa Europe

Feb 28, 2011

Where were you born? In a council house in Newcastle Upon Tyne

How many people work in your IT department? Approximately 800 permanent roles of which around 100 are filled by contractors

Approximately 300 more contractors who are recruited in for specific projects

Approximately 200 more outsourced.

What is the size of your annual IT budget? Around €250m with a further €100m for project work.

What percentage of annual turnover does IT represent? As a percentage of expenses it’s about 35%

What is the basic structure of your IT department? I run all Change and Governance for Visa Europe as well as Business Operations and IT. IT itself is split into Technical Operations, IT Build, Solutions and Architecture, plus a Technology Office

Who are your key suppliers? IBM; BT; EMC; Deloitte; Endava; KCOM;

What devices does your department support and how many? About 3000 workstations; 3000 mobiles, iphones and smartphones. The vast majority of our servers are virtualised or will be by end 2011.

Who has/have been the most influential people in your career? My wife; My friends; The people I have worked with and for.

Do you believe in mentoring? Absolutely. Degree and masters courses in BSc Physics with Astrophysics at Leicester and MSc Optoelectronics at Newcastle

Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up/down/across? Being honest, transparent and direct.

What has been your biggest mistake? Taking on a job without doing enough checking to make sure it was viable – it wasn’t.

And your greatest success? My marriage; my daughters; The last 6 years at Visa Europe.

How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? I have no idea. You just keep trying.

How do you deal with stress? Gym; fun and ignoring it.

What profession would you most/least like to attempt? Would most like to go into space (was threatened with divorce when I said I was applying for the European space programme – didn’t matter though. I failed French 4 times so they wouldn’t accept me anyway!!), study neuroscience (might still do this) or be a professional rugby player and loads of other things.

Least like…….social worker.

Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse? A bad word.

Which business books have been influential in your career? Not sure any have been influential on my career. I’ve used the oxford dictionary of humorous quotations a lot though.

Do you have a sport you practice or sportsperson/team that you follow? Used to play rugby and football and follow Wasps and Man Utd.

I did a triathlon before joining Visa. I love to Ski and would love to golf again if I had the time. I have established a charity bike ride among Visa Europe staff — around 320 miles over three and half days. We did London to Paris in 2009 and  Brussles to Frankfurt in 2010 and 2011 is to be decided…. so cycle a bit.

What else do you do outside of work? Cinema; Music; Reading; Family.