CIO+1 – celebrating diversity in IT

Anna Mathews
UCISA Head of Policy and Projects

 

 

In April UCISA sponsored a CIO + 1 event, as one of our activities to support diversity in our sector, as outlined in the UCISA 2018-2022 Strategic Plan  CIO +1 is a series of events designed to improve diversity in IT, and expert speakers, technology or subject matter-leaders are  involved at each event.
Established by Claire Priestley, Director of IT at City, University of London, CIO +1 gives underrepresented groups in the sector access to unique networking opportunities.  The CIO +1 audience is therefore CIOs and IT leaders, accompanied by their nominated individuals from HEI and FEIs (as well as local and central government, charity, NHS and the private sector).

As Claire explains, “CIO+1 is an initiative developed to help diversity in IT leadership. CIOs are invited to high calibre, free networking events on the basis that they bring along a talented individual from within their own teams – ideally someone from a typically underrepresented group. The “+1” gets exposure to the same high profile networking, strategic conversations, products and presentations that we – in tech leadership – have the opportunity to experience regularly.”
And what a fun, informative evening it was!  One element that really stood out was the care and attention Claire’s well-briefed colleagues took to host the reception and  ensure that people were brought into conversations if they found themselves on their own; another was Claire’s emphasis on “breaking bread” –  the excellent food, along with the convivial, friendly atmosphere made for a relaxed evening.

 

There were three guest speakers:  Professor Marianne Lewis from the Cass Business School; Sarah Wrench, AI expert from Ernst Young; and Aline Hayes, who is leading the development of big data and AI at Lloyds Banking Group as Head of Systems.
In a funny and engaging hands on presentation Sarah covered all manner of topics:  boxing, the importance of positive and negative data sets in machine learning, and using magic tricks at interview.  Aline, who many of us know from her previous roles in higher education spoke about her role at Lloyds and about employment practices, such as flexible working, to support diversity.
We concluded with a fascinating talk from Marianne who explained polarity mapping in organisations, using  the changing fortunes of Lego as a case study.   In short, in trying to reinvent itself twenty years ago, Lego moved too far away from its core values and central business (creating too many new product lines, not listening to retailers, ignoring the strength of the heritage brand it had built up).   When falling sales led the company re-examine its culture, it realised that it had “over adjusted” (or to put it another way the pendulum had swung too far).  This realisation led to a return to Lego’s core values.  And from that new position of equilibrium the company went on the success it now enjoys by innovating but always paying heed to its history.

You can find out more about the CIO + 1 initiative from Twitter and the CIO + 1 page on LinkedIn.  The next event takes place on Tuesday 31 July and it is being sponsored by the UCISA London Group , which is supported by the London Metropolitan Network. 

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