I’m an IT manager, get me out of here!

IT PRO looks at the challenges presented by the modern workplace.

Mark Leonard, chief information officer (CIO), COLT

Leonard is at the helm of the technological infrastructure of data, voice and managed services giant COLT. He's in charge of around has around 400 IT staff who are located mainly in the UK, India and Switzerland.

As the CIO of a very big organisation, what are the biggest challenges you face on a daily basis and how do you overcome them?

Talent management is a big focus for us. Demands on IT managers, project managers, etc. are very different today than they used to be. IT is as much about people as technology, therefore developing the right skills, managing talent and performance is absolutely key to the success of any IT organisation.

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As part of building our high-performing team and investing in our people we have put in place a tool and a framework with a clear process for identifying the goals of each individual, their skills gaps and a personal plan to develop them.

The IT market changes so quickly and sometimes it's hard to keep up. How do you keep abreast of changes that could impact your tech landscape and how do you prioritise where you should invest/wait?

At COLT, we have an advantage in keeping pace with innovation because technology is our business. It is part of our competitive edge to be at the forefront of technical change and so promoting the value of technology into the business is much easier than it might be in another sector. However, you still need to invest time in researching and understanding emerging and disruptive technologies.

What's the biggest change IT-wise that you've seen during your career (either at COLT or in a previous role) and how significant do you think that was/is?

IT has changed significantly during my career. IT used to be seen more as an after-thought or a necessary evil and usually involved simple automation. Now, IT is at the heart of everyone's daily lives and has become a core driver for the bottom line. The role of the IT department has changed and become key in delivering the business strategy of the company.

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