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The V3 Hot Seat: Newham and Havering IT director Geoff Connell

05 Feb 2013

geoff-connell-newham-havering-IT-directorGeoff Connell is the joint head of ICT at the London boroughs of Newham and Havering. He has held the dual role since 2009, managing a shared IT service for both councils in order to improve cost savings and efficiency.

Connell oversees around 150 staff across the two separate organisations with a combined budget in excess of £13m per annum.

Last summer, Connell's role came under the spotlight as Newham, which is also the home to the government's Tech City initiative, became one of the host boroughs of the Olympic Games. He spoke to V3 about his implementation of a flexible working strategy for council staff, his focus on IT security, and how the event had spurred him to enter talks with BT on providing free Wi-Fi across the borough.

Recently, Connell told V3 about a datacentre consolidation project he is helping manage for London, which could save taxpayers millions by providing a shared service for all 33 London boroughs. A possible location for this datacentre under discussion is the Olympic Park.

Connell follows other IT leaders in the Hot Seat, such as Symantec EMEA security chief technology officer Greg Day and Hotels.com vice president of technology Stuart Silberg.

V3: What's your favourite part of your current job?

Geoff Connell: Managing ICT departments across two organisations as this provides many opportunities to improve efficiency, remove costs and share best practice.

What would be your dream job (apart from your current role, of course)?

Professional sportsman, but as I'm too old and not nearly talented enough, I'd better settle for manager of a well-funded professional sports team - McLaren or Team Sky perhaps.

Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?

The iPhone 5 and iPad 3. I might go with a Samsung Galaxy 3 next though as the iPhone 5 screen didn't grow enough from the iPhone 4 for my liking.

Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?

Well it was Steve Jobs for relentless product innovation, creating technology that you really wanted to own and use. I guess I am on the lookout for a new geeky hero.

Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?

The smartphone. The ability to be productive at any time and in any location has been the most profound technological development in recent years.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

I suppose it was becoming a chief information officer, as that's generally the career ambition for most people in an ICT department. But since then it would be proving to myself and others that I can manage multiple ICT departments and not only make savings, but further improve the effectiveness of the ICT service across the organisations.

What was your first job?

My first job after higher education was as an admin assistant at Midland Bank International working in London, which was pretty dull! My first job in ICT was as a junior developer on about £7,000 a year.

What's your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?

The constant change, particularly where its led by technological invention or innovation.

What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?

The integration of consumer devices like tablets and smartphones with multiple real time information systems to enable delivery of dynamic and intuitive information services.

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