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CIO role changes increased by 30% during 2017

modernSearch01More CIOs landed major new roles in 2017 than in the previous year, the Horizon CIO podcast can exclusively reveal.  An increase from 32 role changes in 2016 to 44 in 2017, all covered by the Horizon CIO podcast reveals a community in demand by organisations seeking strong business technology leadership in these difficult times. A full archive of Horizon CIO podcast news stories is at the base of this article.

Early in 2017 the Horizon CIO podcast brought together three of the UK’s leaders in CIO and CTO search, Kersty Bletso, Pat Lynes and Ross Stacey (above) and all three believed 2017 was going to be a good year in both permanent and interim placements and they proved to be right in their prediction. Conversations with the leading CIOs detailed in this article indicate that the interviewing and selection process is harder than ever. 

The year certainly started with some energy when the Drax Energy Group plugging in former Northumbrian Water Group CIO James Robbins. The move saw Robbins take on a group wide role across the five business areas of Drax that includes the famous power stations in Yorkshire, two business-to-business energy retailers and a bio mass business. Robbins was replaced at Northumbrian Water Group by the promotion of Nigel Watson from programme director to CIO.

Ian Cohen 2
Ian Cohen joined Addison Lee in August 2017

Travel and Transport

As the authorities and Uber locked horns in London, arguably the creator of ride hailing in the UK Addison Lee tempted Ian Cohen back into the CIO driving seat on 1 August. Cohen has been in a portfolio career with a number of interesting scale-up technology firms since leaving financial services as a CIO, but the challenge of Addison Lee and its Carlyle Group backing was an exciting opportunity the Chelsea FC fan couldn’t turn down and is now at the wheel.

The UK’s entry into TGV style fast rail service, HS2, has been through two interim CIOs in 2017. In January former Hiscox insurance CIO Andrew Turner moved from the Crossrail trans-London train project to become CIO at HS2 until the autumn when former Arup Group CIO Stephen Potter took on the role, again as an interim. Other travel and transport CIO role changes included rail and bus operator Abellio hiring Aiden Barr. Barr said the customer facing opportunities for the organisation were significant.

Regional airline FlyBe hired Peter Hauptvogel from the package holiday business Thomas Cook. As Hauptvogel left tourism former Low Cost Travel Group CTO Francesco de Marches joined hotel inventory leaders Jac Travel in April. Jack Travel is one of the UK’s leading business-to-business suppliers of hotel room inventory and as de Marchis told peers at the Innovation Leadership Summit, he is using grid computing to reduce costs and extend the life of legacy computing. Former airlines CIO Colin Rees, who was at easyJet for 10 years, took on the CIO role at Franchise Brands which operates a portfolio of services such as car scratch repairs and oven cleaning.

Vendor and CEO experience

CIOs continue to add some vendor side experience to their careers and in late January Christine Ashton joined SAP as its CDO having left information company Thomson Reuters and held CIO roles BG Group and Transport for London. Trevor Didcock, former CIO of easyJet and the AA joined digital consultancy Futurice in June.

In April there was one of the rare examples of a CIO becoming a CEO as former Home Office business technology leader Sarah Wilkinson joined NHS Digital as CEO.  As this title contested, Wilkinson’s move cannot be seen as a trend for CIOs becoming CEOs. NHS Digital is a technology business that sources information, data and systems for the NHS Care Commissioning Groups (CCG). CIO peers that have become CEOs include former Barclays Bank CIO Anthony Watson, now CEO of Uphold Bank and Clive Selley, who moved from CIO of BT to CEO of its Openreach business. But both these cases are examples of CIOs leading technology businesses.

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Trevor Didcock, former AA and easyJet CIO joined Futurice

Financial Services

In financial services Tony Sweeney moved from insurance to the merchant banking specialists Close Brothers. Sweeney had been a key member of David Jacks team during his tenure at Hyperion Insurance, Sweeney’s previous role.

Perhaps the most significant move was Richard Williams joining the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to lead a major transformation programme of the bank which was originally founded as a sunset business that would close down.  Williams is leading the technology transformation as the bank re-imagines many of its processes in the light of its new dawn.

Major European financial services organisation Deutsche Bank appointed its CTO Scott Marcar as CIO for its investment portfolio business, an internal move for Marcar.

One of the most interesting role changes in financial services was Martyn Atkinson becoming CIO of Metro Bank, announced in August. Atkinson was already Digital and Change Director of the challenger bank, which he joined in 2016 and from September of 2017 he became CIO of the organisation. The new role for Atkinson was of note because in the statement about Atkinson’s new title the bank identified the importance of integration of the front- and back-end technology.

General insurance was without doubt the most active sector for recruiting new CIOs.  In March LV= promoted CIO Richard Warner to COO and also promoted John Chasty into the CIO seat vacated by Warner. Chasty joined the organisation in 2011. In November Tim Grieveson returned to the CIO community as CIO at Legal & General. The former CIO of security firm G4S had been on the cyber-security leadership team of HPE since February 2015.

With Fintech firms continuing to grow Mark Knowlton switched from large financial corporate AXA to GBST, a Fintech challenger in July. Fellow Fintech Fidessa secured interim CIO Mark Lockton-Goddard in August for its change programmes.


The logistics industry delivered a couple of role changes too. Richard Gifford moved from facilities management and construction at Carillion to Wincanton a full logistical service business.  In November Mike Sturrock completed his career at couriers DX Group and moved into financial services as CIO for Domestic & General, a supplier of warranty and insurance services.


Holland & Barratt hired former McDonalds CIO Mark Fabes as its new owners shape the retailer


Retail alongside the media has been one of the vertical markets to have been disrupted most significantly by technology and major supermarket Sainsbury’s hired former Global CIO of Telefonica as its Group CIO. Phil Jordan’s recruitment was announced in May, with the cricket loving CIO joining the London headquartered supermarket this month. As Jordan exclusively revealed in a Horizon CIO podcast, the data and customer journey opportunities at Sainsbury’s excite the former telecoms leader. Days after Sainsbury’s bagged Phil Jordan, maker and retailer of luxury clothing Burberry recruited Mark McClennon from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) giants Unilever as its Global CIO. Luxury brands are realising now that the digital change in consumer behaviour means they can have a direct relationship with their customer base, earlier this month former B&Q CIO JJ van Oosten joined Swiss watches giant Richemont.

At the other end of the market to Burberry and Richemont, electrical buy-to-rent retailer Brighthouse changed interim CIOs and appointed Martin Wyke in early September, whilst days later health foods chain Holland & Barratt recruited Mark Fabes as CIO. Fabes has a wealth of retail experience including major technology roles at McDonalds and Starbucks.  Holland & Barratt was acquired by Russian investment in June 2017. Talking of coffee, Whitbread’s best business brew Costa Coffee promoted CTO Phil Scully to CIO in September.

Domino’s Pizza Group brought Barry Wiech into the UK, the Australian CIO has a rich retail heritage in his homeland, including experience within the Domino’s family.  Wiech replaced former easyJet technology leader Colin Rees at the Milton Keynes headquartered fast food franchise outlet. Retail supplier Bunzl selected Matt Kyte as CIO in April. Bunzl is a leading supplier of materials to shops and caterers including cleaning goods, carrier bags and cutlery.

Retail CIO Chris Howell moved into publishing joining Hachette UK in October following a successful career at Gatwick Airport and previous to that at department stores Marks & Spencer and Dixons, the electronics retailer.

With Christmas 2017 approaching the news that Paul Coby was leaving department store leaders John Lewis surprised many in the CIO community. Coby will remain at the helm of the retailer until April 2018. The mutual business, which also operates the Waitrose supermarket, has promoted Group Productivity Director Andrew Murphy who will have IT added to his portfolio of responsibilities.

ACE_CIPFA_LisaCommane_N7A2972 (1)Public sector

Mark Gannon returned to the public sector CIO fold in June having been advisory side since leaving Nottingham City Council. Gannon became Director of Business Change and Solutions at Sheffield City Council. Aline Hayes had led technology at the authority and is now in financial services in a senior role at Lloyds Banking Group.


In central government the big news was tax collectors HMRC hiring a Microsoft employee on secondment to be its CDIO . Jacky Wright joined HMRC from leading the Core Platform Engineering division of Microsoft. Wright began the role in October and it was stated by HMRC that she would not make decisions concerning Microsoft.

Lisa Commane (above) saw through the mayoral elections in the Midlands as CIO of Coventry City Council and then took on a business improvement role with the official regulator of the water utilities sector Ofwat. Command joined Ofwat in July having had a long and very varied career in her home city of Coventry. 

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CIO Richard Corbridge in Leeds where he has returned to. Picture by Vicky Matthers

In healthcare Richard Corbridge announced in August that he was returning to his native Yorkshire and took on the role of CIO at the Leeds NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust. Since December 2014 Corbridge had been national CIO of the Health Service Executive (HSE) the equivalent to the NHS in the Republic of Ireland.  As Ireland’s first national healthcare CIO Corbridge transformed health technology and information with the introduction of personal health records and identifiers amongst a range of developments. You can listen to Corbridge explain in a Horizon CIO podcast on health innovation and one on the Irish public sector.

Trading the UK’s health sector for a foreign role, Dr Zafar Chaudry moved from the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust in October to one of leading children’s hospitals in the USA. Chadry is now at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

In a summer of public sector and health CIO changes Tiffany Hall left broadcasters BBC to join charity Cancer Research UK as its first CIO.

Having completed the transformation of the Department for Education (DfE) Adrian Tucker has decided to remain in the public sphere, joining the Student Loans Company as its CIO in December.  Tucker has spent the bulk of his career in retail, but led one of the fastest and most successful large scale public sector transformations at the DfE.

Richard Cross returns to the media at Clear Channel following engineering career

Media leisure and gaming

One of the biggest changes in the media was Richard Cross joining outdoor advertising organisation Clear Channel in December.  CDO Cross had been in engineering with Atkins and Arup since his last media role, that of CIO for broadcasters ITV.  Cross has a clear vision of how the methods of pure digital businesses such as Amazon and Netflix can be embraced and used by non-digital business and it won him awards at Atkins.  The CDO exclusively told the Horizon CIO podcast about the lessons from Atkins and the opportunities at Clear Channel.

After a year in telecoms energetic CIO Finbarr Joy returned to the gaming sector with Superbet, a Romanian challenger to the established players in the UK. Joy had been with William Hill before moving to Lebara, a pay-as-you-go telecoms provider in 2016.

sabahkhancarterDominic Shine went from the publishing side of the media to the advertising and marketing, joining Gideon Kaye at Dentsu Aegis Network as Global CTO in July. At News Corp, where Shine had been before joining Dentsu Aegis Network Sabah Khan Carter (right) joined the Global Operations Centre as CIO following a career with News UK, also a Rupert Murdoch owned business.

Serial sports CIO Rob Mackmurdie changed ball shape in August moving to The Lawn Tennis Association in Wimbledon following a 15 year career with the Rugby Football Union (RFU). In the world of aspiring sports stars, Andy Caddy completed his career at gym business Virgin Active and was replaced by Phil Leith from the Royal Mail who has just completed his first year in the role.

Carolyn Brown at the UK’s largest gathering of CIOs, the Horizon CIO Podcast Innovation Leadership Summit

Engineering and manufacturing

Barry Smith continued his career in engineering moving from architectural leaders Foster and Partners to Skanska, the organisation that played a major role in the widening of the M25.  Smith had been with Sir Norman Foster’s architectural business on the River Thames since 2008 and helped with the introduction of 3D printing.

In mid-August the National Housing Federation announced that it had secured Carolyn Brown as CTO from investment company Permira.

Richard Cammish completed his career in the textiles sector and moved into plastics joining Essentra as CIO as the organisations sets out on a major transformation of the FTSE 250 business. Cammish had been with the historic Coats Group for over six years as CIO.


Insurance was without doubt the most significant area of movement with the sector hiring some major league CIOs in the likes of Mike Sturrock, Tim Grieveson and John Chasty. This is perhaps an indicator of a sector that realises some major technology led threats and opportunities are nearing and it needs the right talent in place to manage the transition.

Although the national economy is coming to terms with the news about Carillon this week, on the whole the mood I gauge from the CIO community is that there is a degree of stability and confidence returning to global markets and that there are signs a sensible relationship will be retained with our largest trading partner, Europe. As a result, 2018 could well be another record year of CIO and CTO job changes.

ep041-2Drax plug in transformational CIO James Robbins

Crossrail CIO Andrew Turner changes lines and joins HS2

Christine Ashton to lead SAP HANA CIO practice

Northumbrian Water appoints new tech leader

Abellio hires travel and transport CIO

FlyBe lands Thomas Cook CIO

Close Brothers recruit CIO Tony Sweeney to drive Asset business

LV= promote John Chasty to CIO as Richard Warner takes on COO role

CIO Colin Rees joins ChipsAway and Metro Rod parent

CTO Francesco de Marchis joins Jac Travel

CIO Analysis: Sarah Wilkinson moves from CIO to CEO at NHS Digital

CIO Richard Gifford steps into the Wincanton cab

Bunzl bags Matt Kyte as technology leader

European Bank of Development secures CIO Richard Williams

Sainsbury’s bag European CIO of the Year, Phil Jordan

Burberry check in new Global CIO Mark McClennon

Sheffield City Council appoint new CIO

CIO Trevor Didcock jets into the Futurice

CTO Finbarr Joy takes a Superbet on returning to gaming sector

Coventry City Council CIO joins water regulators

Skanska appoint Barry Smith as CIO in UK

Dominic Shine joins Dentsu Aegis Network in autumn 2017 as Global CTO

Richard Cammish brings CIO package to Essentra as turn around begins

AXA & Macquarie Bank CIO becomes Fintech CTO

Addison Lee book in CIO Ian Cohen to drive transformation

CIO Richard Corbridge to leave national role in Ireland for Leeds

BBC technology leader becomes first CIO of Cancer Research UK

Metro Bank CIO promotion signals a return to CIO prominence

New home for Carolyn Brown as CTO for National Housing Federation

Fintech Fidessa recruits leading interim CIO

Lawn Tennis Association score with rugby IT leader

Domino’s add Australian ingredients to CIO led transformation

Brighthouse appoints interim CIO with retail background

CIO Mark Fabes joins health shop Holland & Barrett

Phil Scully boosted to CIO at Costa Coffee

HMRC recruit Microsoft tech leader as CDIO

Deutsche Bank CTO Scott Marcar takes on investment bank CIO portfolio

Chris Howell jets into CIO role at Hachette UK

Cambridge University Hospitals CIO heads to Seattle

Headline role at News Corp for News UK’s Sabah Khan Carter

CIO Mike Sturrock joins Domestic & General Insurance

Tim Grieveson joins Legal & General

CIO interview: Richard Cross joins Clear Channel

Student Loans Company banks Adrian Tucker as its CIO

Paul Coby to leave CIO role at John Lewis

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About Mark Chillingworth 277 Articles
Mark Chillingworth has over 20 years of journalism and editing experience across all media platforms including online, live events, print magazines and television.
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[…] the level of activity over the summer suggests this to be the case and sectors such as healthcare, retail and […]


[…] discussion was an earlier analysis by Horizon CIO podcast editor Mark Chillingworth reporting that ‘CIO role changes increased by 30% during 2017’.   All the evidence pointed to this being a positive development. The CIOs moving on had all been […]


[…] Over 50% of this year’s CIO power list report direct to the CEO. A significant shift since the time when the norm was to report to the CFO. A fellow former CIO judging the power list commented that ‘more than in previous years how broad the definition of the CIO roles has become’.   Something also raised in my February column, where I flagged the Horizon CIO Podcast recorded between Mark Chillingworth, Catherine Stagg-Macey and myself [ ‘Best time in years to be a CIO’ ].  The trigger for our discussion was an earlier column by Chillingworth reporting that ‘CIO… Read more »

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