Tom Rees is the assistant director of information services at children's charity Barnardo's. The organisation works with vulnerable children across the UK, dealing with pressing social issues including poverty, sexual exploitation, disabilities and domestic violence.
As part the information services team, Rees makes the connection between IT and the charity's end users, ensuring that their needs are being met.
In a recent interview with V3, he explained how his organisation's use of Huddle Note enables hundreds of volunteers to keep track of the charity's activities using Huddle's secure cloud platform.
Rees' Hot Seat follows on from other IT leaders such as Infiniti Red Bull Racing CIO Matt Cadieux and Conservation International vice president of IT Scott Mills.
V3: What does a typical day involve?
Rees: The one thing I can safely say is that there is no typical day. One day can be spent meeting with other departments looking at current and future needs, another can see me working with colleagues in information services to help support the business. The next I could be stuck behind a screen catching up on emails and managing my team.
If I had to summarise it into a few key headings I would say relationship management, people management, problem solving, customer experience and advice giving. Or as my wife once neatly summarised after I spent 10 minutes explaining my job to her: "You are like a translator but for people that speak IT or business rather than English or French."
What would be your dream job?
Anything that allowed me to spend more time outdoors. If I had the ability, I would be a professional surfer, snowboarder or mountain biker. It is probably a bit late for me now and I lack the talent so I will have to stick to pretending at the weekends instead.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I have an iPhone 5 for personal use and a BlackBerry for work. While I understand the security benefits that BlackBerry gives, I much prefer my iPhone. Between the iPhone and iPad, my personal laptop rarely gets switched on.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
Given the answer to my last question then it is probably obvious that I am going to say Steve Jobs. The simplicity and consistency around design, focus on the user experience and attempts by other companies to match Apple speaks volumes about the difference he made.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
For me it's smartphones and wireless technologies. The ability to access the information I need when away from the office is important for my job. It also makes travelling around a lot easier; whether it is a tube map app to help me navigate around London or using Google Maps to get me to some remote part of the country.
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
It would probably have to be the work I have done to develop the way that information services works within the charity, using my team of business relationship managers. There is always more to be done but the framework is in place to ensure that we continue to understand the business's needs.
Spending time listening to the children and young people that Barnardo's works with is always a very positive experience. When you're having a challenging day there is no better reminder that it is all worth it.
What was your first job?
I spent my gap year working as a lifeguard and swimming teacher in our local swimming pool.
What's your favourite thing about working in the IT industry?
Seeing the difference IT can make to people and businesses when done correctly. However, the negative of this is the impact IT can have on people when the wrong solution is used.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
I think there are some obvious ones around, like wearable devices and 3D printing. Once we have got over the ‘thing to have' phase, I can see these having some really useful long-term benefits.
One area that will drive innovation for a number of years is the Internet of Things and the big data that it generates. We are in the infancy of really understanding and finding uses for a lot of it.
What keeps you awake at night?
I would like to say something deep and meaningful like ‘world peace' but the only thing keeping me awake is my kids. That said, a lack of sleep can make dealing with arguments over toys feel as hard as trying to resolve world peace.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
I have started going through the Jack Reacher collection by Lee Child. It is easy to read but not the most intellectually stimulating read.
Who is your favourite band or musician?
This would have been easy as a teenager given access to music was a lot harder. But, with an iPhone full of music constantly on shuffle, I have a different favourite every week. The main ones I keep going back to are probably Maximo Park, Jonny Cash and The Killers.
Where's your favourite place for escape?
Luckily, I don't have to travel far to get there as it is the place I live: Newport in Pembrokeshire. Once I managed to forget about the jobs that need doing around the house, the mountain or beach are both a short walk from the house.
E-readers or real books?
I owned a Kindle for a number of years but couldn't get on with it, so thought I would always be a real book reader. But over the past few years this has changed and it is now a rarity to read a real book. As my iPhone is always with me, I tend to use it to read books. I still prefer real books, though, and can't bring myself to give away any that I read.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
For me, it's The Beatles.
I can't decide between Full Metal Jacket and Shawshank Redemption.
Windows or Mac OS?
Windows at work, and both at home. Although I tend to rarely turn on the Mac or Windows laptop and do the majority of things on my iPhone or iPad.
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