by Julian Goldsmith

Paul Coby hired as John Lewis’s first IT director

Mar 03, 2011
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

Less than three months after announcing his departure from BA, former CIO Paul Coby has resurfaced as IT director of John Lewis department stores.

Coby joins after a decade at the airline and will take up his position on 21 March, reporting to MD Andy Street.

Under his leadership, BA went through a number of technology projects, including the baggage handling system at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and self-checking in.

In a statement, Street said Coby’s “record speaks for itself. He’s a heavyweight in the IT industry, and therefore it is excellent news that he is joining our business to help us realise our ambition to become a leader in technology.”

Although BA and John Lewis have certain similarities as companies – both are flagship British brands, with a keen eye on customer loyalty – it is worth noting that Coby is moving into what must be a less expansive role at the retailer, as he has nothing to do with the partnership’s other brand, Waitrose.

According to a John Lewis spokesman, the role Coby is taking on has been created for him, as previously, the retailer did not have an IT director. Although no details are available about what he has been brought in to achieve, IT rationalisation, logistics and customer services are likely contenders as projects, as Coby was involved in these areas at BA.

Coby is also a keen proponent of Agile software development methodologies and so may have come in to help the retailer adopt this approach.

Coby also appears to be the first outsider to come into the management board at John Lewis departments stores for some time, as the rest of the management team, including the MD have worked almost exclusively at the retailer with many of them joining the company as trainees.