CIO Profile: Greenwich Uni's Alan Broadaway on public sector politics

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CIO Profile: Greenwich University's Alan Broadaway on campus infrastructure

Before he left the University of Greenwich in December 2010, head of ICT Alan Broadaway was tasked with streamlining the college's computing and upgrading to a a unified comms network. With so many initiatives on the go, Broadaway was dealing with a lot of suppliers at once.

He takes a practical approach to suppliers and recognises that it’s a two-way street. The university’s procurement is done as a collective­ with other colleges to get economies of scale, so Broad­away had to base his purchasing decisions on what the majority want. On top of all this, he had to get permission from English Heri­tage, the owner of the Greenwich Naval College campus as well, so all in all, once a deal was made, there wasn’t much leeway.

Tough decisions
This doesn’t mean to say Broadaway is a soft touch. The public sector is a political­ arena and you need stiff resolve to push your own agenda through.

There was an element of hostility to new ideas when Broadaway arrived at Greenwich. He was prepared to listen to all viewpoints but as department head it was his ­decision that had to carry sway.

“When I came in I was met with a reaction of: ‘We don’t do it like that here’ from some people. Now some people have left. It’s not a case of I’m the big person who knows it all. There is a reason for your ­decisions and some people still disagree with you when you don’t wish them to. That’s business,” he admits.

Most of the time, however, Broad­away made the effort to build a team with differ­ent types of people who had different approaches and attitudes. He’s very service-driven and put all his staff through ITIL training. He also encourages innovation.

“It’s a case of working with them and involving them, giving them as much responsibility as I can and guiding them. A lot of people didn’t have experience of the wider commercial world so I’m trying to encourage them to go to as many places, talk to as many people as they can and mix with other universities.”

The IT team numbers around 55 people,­ and turnover is six per cent, a figure Broadaway considers healthy enough to get an influx of new ideas without impacting on productivity.

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