One of my new colleagues recently asked me what my greatest achievement had been through my career. It was a very simple question, and with a tech career spanning more than 30 years, you’d expect it should have been easy to answer, but I have to admit that I found it quite difficult.
I could have said it was achieving my career ambition of being part of the executive team of the third largest business management software company in the world, and a FTSE 100 tech company that I have always admired.
I could have said it was leading the team that built one of the very first, if not the first, NHS digital services to be delivered over the internet (Electronic PACT) way back in 1996. A service that went on to be recognised in 1997 by the British Computer Society for IT innovation, and which supported General Practitioners for the next 22 years.
I could have said it was having the privilege to lead many great teams that have built hundreds of innovative, and award winning, new products and services that were used by 6 million customers and generated more than £30 billion in revenue.
I could have said it was travelling the world and working at the very highest level with major partners such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Bank of America to deliver highly innovative solutions, which helped our business achieve its strategic and commercial goals, by allowing customers all around the world to benefit from the best of what we had to offer with the best of what our partners had to offer.
I could have said it was how much I enjoyed the challenge of leading a tech function comprising 2600 colleagues across 13 countries, whilst successfully learning how to work with the cultural and regional differences to deliver highly effective global and country specific products and services.
I could have said it was building Accounts and Payroll solutions that went on to become the defacto standards across the UK & Ireland, processing nearly half of UK GDP and allowing more than half of UK businesses to pay their people.
I could have said it was having the opportunity to learn about, and work with, many emergent technologies, new platforms, development methodologies, supporting ecosystems, and new skillsets to continually enhance organisational capability and operational effectiveness.
I could have said it was successfully revitalising the commercial fortunes of a large-scale traditional ERP solution by transforming it into a cloud-based solution. After the same had previously been attempted and aborted twice by a previous team, and all with a team of 20 people in less than one year from start to finish.
I could have said it was championing customer experience through the introduction of data science and experience design teams to make our products and services more user friendly and easier to use.
I could have said it was how much I enjoyed being the exco sponsor of a multi-million pound global digital transformation programme that involved many different parts of the business coming together to transition hundreds of country specific websites and e-commerce capabilities into a single highly scalable, multi-country, multi-lingual, digital content and e-commerce platform.
I could have said it was the pride of being asked to become a Visiting Professor, and chair of the industrial advisory board, at the University of Sunderland.
However, I didn’t say any of that, I said my proudest achievement was having the privilege to lead, and work with, thousands of great people. Having the opportunity to play a part in their career development and taking great pride in watching them grow & fulfil their own potential, and for us to share success together.
I’m not entirely sure that’s what they were expecting to hear !!