by John Bovill

The CIO Questionnaire: John Bovill, Aurora Fashions group IT director

Jan 09, 2011
CareersIT LeadershipMobile

Where were you born? London, UK

How many people work in your IT department? circa 7 outsource team (1st line call management); 49 in-house (support, infrastructure, development) team

What is the size of your annual IT budget? £6.3m for 2010/11

What percentage of annual turnover does IT represent? 0.9 per cent of gross turnover

What is the basic structure of your IT department? Group I.T. Director – Head of Services – Heads of Development

Who are your key suppliers? BTE – Software; Retail Assist – Support Services; Vista – Till Hardware and Software Support; Vodat – Network Services; Blue Sky – Server Hardware Support and Maintenance

What devices does your department support and how many? Approximately 160 servers: Approximately 1,500 tills: Approximately 1,100 admin centre and desktop users

Who have been the most influential people in your career? Numerous. I tend to use multiple sources of inspiration dependent on opportunity, such as Sir Terry Leahy in terms of leadership.

Do you believe in mentoring? I have attended an executive MBA course. I have also made use of a mentor, strategic direction specialist, Professor Ian Turner, MD of Duke Corporate Education. I’m a keen advocate of mentoring, but it needs to be relevant to development and the opportunity.

Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up, down or across? Be open, honest and challenging. Never be afraid to share bad news.

What has been your biggest mistake? Underselling myself and celebrating success.

And your greatest success? Family and friends. With a stable base anything is possible.

How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? Keep open minded. Embrace innovation because we are lucky to be in an information age with a world of possibilities. Cultivate a broad source and research base, such as keeping up on the literature, and experiment through collaboration.

How do you deal with stress? I have a great team and piers, with whom I’m never afraid to share bad news.

What profession would you most/least like to attempt? I’m most interested in roles that have thrived on problem solving, having had operational board level positions across multiple functions: I.T., E-commerce, supply chain, loogistics, sourcing and strategy development. I thrive in customer facing positions and I am industry agnostic.

Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse? “it’s only about frocks”

Which books have been influential in your career? I a very big reader: Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father and Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela are memorable highlights.

Do you have a sport you practice or sportsperson/team that you follow? I enjoy fell running, triathlons and skiing. Sportspeople I admire are fell runner Joss Naylor and Alex Ferguson, despite being a Chelsea fan.

What else do you do outside of work? I’m an associate of the institute of wines and spirits after 3 years study