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The V3 Hot Seat: Government chief operating officer Stephen Kelly

19 Feb 2013

Government Chief Operating Officer Stephen Kelly

Stephen Kelly, the former chief executive of Cobol tools software vendor Micro Focus, joined the government in July 2011 as the crown commercial representative. In this role he was responsible for negotiating new contracts with IT suppliers such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, driving down public sector costs by £800m over the course of a year and increasing transparency within government.

In September 2012, Kelly was appointed the government's first chief operating officer, replacing Ian Watmore in in leading the Cabinet Office's efficiency and reform team.

Since his appointment, Kelly has overseen a number of restructuring changes within the government's IT leadership team. Recently he promoted deputy chief information officer Liam Maxwell to the role of government chief technology officer.

Kelly started his career at Oracle shortly after its initial public offering in 1987. From 1987 to 1998, Kelly worked in various sales and marketing roles at the firm in the UK, finishing off as the European director and financial services director.

After Oracle, Kelly joined Chordiant and saw it grow from a small start-up to a US Nasdaq company. From 2002 to 2006, Kelly served as Chordiant's chief executive. Kelly then joined Microfocus, which under his leadership performed well on the UK stock market.

Kelly follows other IT leaders in the V3 Hot Seat, including Myspace chief technology officer Fabrizio Blanco and Newham and Havering IT director Geoff Connell.

What's your favourite part of your current job?

The most exciting thing about my job is having the privilege to be part of initiatives that are helping the British government shine on the global platform as the civil service to emulate across the world.

Our Open Standards policy for example, which sets the standard for more open, cheaper and better connected IT, is just one example of where we are leading the way for countries across Europe, and even further afield, to follow so that all governments can deliver more innovative new world technology enabled services at a fraction of the old world IT cost.

Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?

The late Steve Jobs.

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

My cell phone.

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

Leading some great companies and seeing teams exceed their potentials.

What was your first job?

I did the local paper rounds.

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

The goverment leading the way - in technology innovation - and placing users at the heart of technology.

What do you do enjoy doing when you finish work?

Being with the family and my three amazing daughters. I also enjoy playing hockey.

Do you prefer e-readers or real books?

I like both, but only on holidays.

Twitter, Facebook or Google+?


How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?

We need inspirational teachers.

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

The Stones.

On-premise or cloud computing?

Cloud computing.

If you want to volunteer for V3's Hot Seat, or want to suggest an IT leader you think should take part, please email for more details.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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