Nicholas Hodder

Tom Allen
clock • 5 min read
Nicholas Hodder

Nicholas Hodder

Part of the IT Leaders 100 - a list of the most influential IT leaders in the UK

Nick has worked in the tech sector for more than 20 years, with brands including Panasonic, KLM, Hilton, BA, Microsoft and Google. His real passion, though, is in technology disruption - especially in the non-profit sector. That comes in useful in his role as Director of Digital Transformation at the Imperial War Museums, where most of his time is dedicated to understanding customers in a fast-moving digital landscape.

How do you ensure diversity is taken into account in your IT recruitment?

(Answers by a colleague on Nick's behalf)

Since Nick arrived he's paid close attention to the diversity of the team. I think this goes deep into his philosophical approach, which is really focused on growth mindset and learning. He gives us autonomy and the space to learn and develop our skills and knowledge, but I think he really encourages different perspectives. Like many cultural institutions and IT teams we've struggled to find those varied perspectives. We have a good gender balance, but the team was largely white and university educated. Nick has helped us focus on bringing in new talent through apprenticeships, which has resulted in developing a more diverse team. Nick is from a working class background and didn't go to university, so is also keen that we bring in more diversity in terms of class and education. If it costs £30k to go to university, does that mean all our graduates will now be from a limited pool of people who can afford that education? What do we do about that? We still have a way to go, but we're making really positive steps. This also carries through to user experience and service design, where we've made significant efforts to survey and engage with a much broader community.

Which technology are you currently most excited by?

Nick is excited by AI but seems most interested in blockchain. He has run several workshops internally as well as presenting externally on the subject of the exponential age with a particular focus on blockchain and its impact on society, our customers, and the way we conduct business in the future. That includes concepts around Web 3.0, NFTs, gaming and the metaverse. He points out that there are some real, practical and immediate applications for some of this technology, but also other opportunities and risks that are likely to play out over the next ten years. Nick has a really fun and engaging way of talking about these subjects that makes the easy to understand and has a real impact. He also sends you off to think about your own ideas and figure out future applications, which is really liberating.

What do you to unwind?

Nick seems to be interested in everything. He's told us he has ADHD, which seems to explain a lot (including why he's also so interested in neurodiversity), but also why he can't stop discovering and trying new things. His interests include music, cinema, making short films, comedy writing, being an amateur barista, playing football, coaching his daughter's football team, snowboarding and probably a hundred other things he hasn't accidentally let slip yet.

If you were an animal (other than human), which animal would you be and why?

I think Nick is probably a monkey. He's curious and is always interested in new things. He'll play with new things and isn't afraid to break them (that could be considered bad - but he hasn't destroyed anything too important yet). He's also social, caring and looks after his team. He protects us but also lets us make our own mistakes. He's always there when we need him. He's the leader of our group of monkeys. I think it's a 'troop' of monkeys? But it might a barrel?

What makes you laugh?

There are a lot of things that make Nick laugh. Normally it's the stuff that might otherwise make us cry, which is useful. If something is hard, difficult or stressful Nick will always find some joke to make that adds levity to the situation and reduces its importance or pressure. It gives us the breathing room we need to figure out a productive answer without stressing. He laughs a lot at anything around the concept of perfection. He thinks perfection is a sort of ridiculous and unhelpful concept. He's taught me that when you let perfection go it liberates you, and it's not something I'd thought about much before until I met him.

How did you get into IT?

Nick left school at 16 and went on to found a video production business with the help of a grant and mentorship from The Prince's Trust. This was at the nascent point of the web, and various universities were experimenting with very early video streaming. Nick's company was hired by a team to help the team with the streaming project, which resulted in Nick getting really into the detail of compression, decompression and something called chroma sub-sampling. Nick ended up working on video streaming projects full time and eventually gained more senior roles in the technology sector at companies like Sun Microsystems and Google. Having worked in several non-profit initiatives at Google he was keen to see how he could apply his experience to digital transformation in the non-profit world, so left in 2014 to start a new chapter in his career in the non-profit sector in organisations such as Guide Dogs, EY Foundation and Imperial War Museums.

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