technology chiefsInterview with Steve White
Interim Director of Technology Platforms at Oxford University Press
What are the top 3 priorities in your role?
My 3 top priorities are all driven by our Technology Transformation Programme
- To successfully transition to the new technology operating model
- Recruit great candidates into the new organisation structure
- Keeping existing projects and service on track and not derailed by the transition programme
Which previous role had the biggest impact on your career?
Gamesys (2003 – 2007), I joined as employee number 16, brought 2 previous colleagues with me and doubled the tech team to 6. Gamesys then went on to be one of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK. The accelerated learning from being part of that, I feel enabled me to learn more in 4 years than you would in some 20+ year careers. I really enjoyed the responsibility and autonomy that came with working with the founders.
How do you see the role of the Technology Leader changing?
It will be even more crucial to keep abreast of the changing technology landscape and to develop the knowledge to know which technologies to adopt and importantly which ones to avoid. It is also very important to develop good leadership and mentoring skills. If you want to hire great staff you need to be a great leader and possess the skills to train up graduates.
What are the 3 most important issues confronting the technology industry?
- Lack of skilled staff in the industry (every year 10K jobs that can’t be filled)
- The ability to deliver complex projects at scale, too many failing… Agile can help a lot but still too many big technology projects don’t go right, billions spent but little or no benefit… We need to get better as an industry
- Security! Sophistication of hackers is outpacing our industry’s ability to protect itself
What 3 technology trends are you most excited about and why?
- Artificial Intelligence – huge potential that will transform many industries. We are only at the very beginning of this as a technology enabler, I see the potential of this being as big as internet.
- VR/AR – Pokemon has brought it to the attention of the masses, but this is just scratching the surface. Products like Google cardboard are really interesting as they change the cost point. The uses of VR/AR for business applications likely to be in training and education
- IOT – a very broad trend but for me specifically wearable’s. I like the opportunities in advancing medical research from data collected. I was recently reading about advances in understanding heart disease and cures, this could be huge just from people sharing data from their fitbit style devices.
What product or company is having the biggest impact?
Cloud Computing AWS &/or Azure – You just couldn’t build physical infrastructure in anywhere the same time. This has been a game changer for start-ups in reducing cost and increasing reliability.
What mobile app do you use every day?
Evernote – because of its ability to share data across all your devices. Combine this with Dropbox and you have a great combination
What 3 skills should an aspiring Technology Leader look to develop?
- Leadership & Mentoring – an absolute must for all leaders is to ensure you are constantly sharing your knowledge with your team and helping them reach their true potential.
- Networking and sharing knowledge amongst peers. Just as with your own team, Technology is hard enough and we need to find better ways to share and gain insight from others.
- Communication – bridging the gap between Technology and your Business. Go on a public speaking course or enrol in presentation skills, anything to increase your effectiveness in communicating.
What books should someone looking to get on in their technology career read?
The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder. It may be a little old now, but I remember reading back in the early 80’s and thinking that I wanted to be part of that industry!
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