Q&A: Stuart Silberg, Hotels.com
The CTO of Hotels.com - and IT Pro Leaderboard member - discusses why soft skills remain key and having to wait two days for a print-out.
Describe your role in three words.
Defender: It's my job to make sure that our systems and our customers are protected.
Negotiator: working in IT, you always have to negotiate, whether it's agreeing a price with a supplier or agreeing a project delivery date with a colleague.
Driver: My role requires me to manage my team effectively and to push things forward, so that projects are completed on time and on budget.
Now and always, the most important skills in IT are the soft ones. Anyone can learn to code but, if you cannot communicate effectively or work in a team, you will struggle to get ahead.
Who is your tech hero? And why?
I think Nolan Bushnell, who co-founded Atari, is inspirational. He made technology accessible to the public at a time when computers were few and far between, and hugely expensive.
What does your current role involve?
Today, my role is much more strategic. I'm responsible for making sure that the right resources are in place to support the business as it expands into new markets and onto new platforms. To do that, much of my time is spent working with my teams to make sure that new features and updates to our service go out of the door on time with quality.
A lot of what we do is in the background so it's up to me to demonstrate how we are adding business value behind the scenes.
How did you arrive at your current role?
I didn't have a game plan, that's for sure!
I started out working as a systems analyst at NatWest before moving to the States and working with Interim Technology and Kmart in California.
I spent several years working in the healthcare sector and led the project that successfully implemented the national Electronic Medical Health Record System (EMR). I moved back to the UK to join Hotels.com.
Did you always want to work in IT?
Originally I wanted to be an airline pilot but, back in the 90s, the industry had collapsed and there wasn't very much opportunity about. I took an IT job as a stopgap and then decided I rather liked it.
What do you enjoy most about your role/working in IT?
For me, the best part of my job is the people. It's exciting to build and work with a good team. I also love to make things work better and faster, and find new ways of doing things.