How UK CIOs are developing internal talent

The digital skills gap is an enduring problem for IT business leaders. Recent research from Barclaycard revealed that more than three-quarters of UK CIOs are worried about up-skilling tech talent (78%) and concerned about recruiting the IT staff they need (76%) in today's competitive and uncertain market.

While some CIOs are plugging the gap by recruiting external talent, others are finding a solution closer to home.

Here's how some of the UK's top digital leaders are developing internal talent.

Read next: Barclaycard research reveals CIO worries about up-skilling tech talent

Mike Young - Centrica CIO

Mike Young - Centrica CIO

Centrica CIO Mike Young had an unlikely route into tech, spending 11 years in the special forces and seven as a police detective sergeant before he began a career in IT. The experience taught him that the talent he recruits could also come from unusual backgrounds.

One recruit became a data scientist after seven years in customer operations, while another moved into the role after 15 years as a field engineer.

“He has a level of pragmatism as well as the intellect and the astuteness that you get with the data scientist piece, so you get a complete package which works quite well when you've got problems you need to solve," says Young of his employee.

"If you've got people that want to remain part of the Centrica story and they've got the aptitude and they're willing to try some of these new mechanisms in terms of planning and development, I think Centrica's very supportive in giving them that opportunity. It's just a change in the frame of your mind."

Read next: Centrica CIO Mike Young deploys data to drive energy efficiencies

Nicholas Lloyd - CIO for the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the MoD
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Nicholas Lloyd - CIO for the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the MoD

Nicholas Lloyd, CIO for the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the MoD, supports the growing number of initiatives that retrain military veterans for a jobs in IT, but he also believes that benefits can come from career moves in the opposite direction.

"Because we recruit people at the bottom end of the organisation and develop them all the way through their career, we probably need to get a little bit cleverer at honing people with the skill sets laterally into the organisation," he says.

"We're trying to do that through the use of reserves. For example, we've got cyber reserves that we can draw upon and I've personally found them incredibly useful because they come with a skillset that can be difficult to grow and retain organically within the organisation.

"The ability to reach out to people who are doing cyber-related jobs in industry from a different angle and to use them as reservists in the military tasks is a great opportunity. I think there's a good opportunity for a two-way flow here in terms of transferrable skills."

Read next: CIO for UK military operations overseas discusses global cyber threats

Sheila Doyle - Deloitte CIO

Sheila Doyle - Deloitte CIO

Deloitte CIO Sheila Doyle has a young workforce with high expectations of technology. She tries to empower them by giving them the best tools that perform to similar standards of more consumer-facing tech.

"We constantly endeavour to meet these expectations by adopting the latest innovations, whether it is accelerating the delivery of key services such as Cloud@Deloitte, our internal cloud adoption service, or Digital Services, focused on creating a smarter working day for our employees," she says.

"Our aim is to empower our employees with an easy, intuitive technology experience based upon co-creation and collaboration. The mobility of our employees is also crucial: they need to be able to work anywhere, anytime, and have a good work-life balance. That's why we were very early adopters of mobility services and tools."

Read next: Deloitte CIO Sheila Doyle Q&A - Recruitment, disruptive technologies and the changing nature of the CIO role

Matt Harris - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Head of IT

Matt Harris - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Head of IT

The IT staff at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport have played a central role in the team's recent run of Formula 1 titles, but many of them never get to witness the races in person. To boost morale and keep internal teams motivated, Harris introduced regular trips to test days at Silverstone and visits to the factory from drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

"[That's] a massive boost to a load of the guys, because we're quite removed from the track in a lot of instances," says Head of IT for the team, Matt Harris.

"Some guys get to go to the track regularly because it's part of their job, but some of them have never been to the track and it's unlikely they'll get to go in many instances."

Read next: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Head of IT Matt Harris explains the tech powering the F1 champions

Jane Moran - Unilever CIO

Jane Moran - Unilever CIO

When Unilever CIO Jane Moran moved the company from a project-based to a platform-based approach, she learned that giving her IT team the tech they wanted helped maximise their performance.

"I have some great talent internally," says Moran. "The platform leads for Unilever, they are amazing. They are deep technologists. They care deeply about their platforms. They want to innovate on those platforms, and they can because they manage the development and operations, but more importantly the design.

"That was the unlock for us - not having third parties tell us what we should be doing and managing our systems as a black box. But it did require us to invest in our employees. We've got significant technology training going on at Unilever."

Read next: Unilever CIO Jane Moran's leadership and transformation lessons from the 2018 CIO Summit

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