Part of the IT Leaders 100 - a list of the most influential IT leaders in the UK in 2023.
Describing himself as "a proud and pragmatic nerd," Jake is one of the youngest entrants in the IT Leaders 100. His experience ranges from operational technology like cybersecurity, cloud and 'as a service' to strategic decisions around flexible working and business-level communication.
How did you get into IT?
Less than a week after my final A-level exam, I started what at the time was a gap year job as a general support technician. I was asked to turn my hand to basic web development, infrastructure, helpdesk, and reprographics.
I learned very early on in my career the importance of the many components under the IT umbrella that make technology useful for organisations and the people working for them. I was fortunate enough to be offered the chance to progress to IT manager a few years later, and was supported by a great CEO to develop my craft and be constantly challenged in making technology work better for the organisation.
I have many great colleagues to be thankful for and achievements in my career to be proud of, but I will always be grateful for the chance I was given to take on the role of IT manager at such a young age and every opportunity that followed it.
How do you ensure diversity is taken into account in your IT recruitment?
This is a constant challenge that every IT leader has to take responsibility for. It has been a great achievement for me to push my organisation to recognise both the significant variety of routes into IT and many types of people that can often be attracted to a career in IT. This has included creating alternate progression paths for members of my team, offering apprenticeships targeted at career changers, and leading a user group to encourage the organisation to also consider technology challenges from the IT perspective.
There's always more that can be done and I make time to support industry initiatives from CITL, BCS, and other bodies to help address imbalances in the IT workforce.
Which technology are you currently most excited by?
While I'm sure many of my peers will be saying the same, the evidence from what ChatGPT from OpenAI can do is incredible. The potential to automate manual assessment of written content is exceptional, and it could form the basis of a genuinely rewarding customer experience that leapfrogs other chat type technologies in such a significant way.
IT has always been tasked with helping organisations realise the value in technology, and the sheer breadth of potential I see in ChatGPT means IT leaders have one of the greatest opportunities in years to put IT front and centre in their organisation's value proposition.
What would an outsider find the most surprising part of your job?
As an effective leader in IT, you have to be so multi-skilled and multi-lingual. You can't just speak business and not understand the technology to at least some level, and you have to be able to translate fluently between the business and technology worlds.
Many assume IT sits in its own bubble and may not have had an opportunity in their career to get to work with a great IT leader so it can be surprising because not all IT leaders are able to straddle two "worlds" so deftly.
What's your secret talent?
I enjoy being able to flex my technical muscles even as a senior IT leader, and hold fluent conversation about the finer points of practical use of technologies in both a professional and personal context. I'm a bit of an addict for learning and applying new skills and developing/broadening my understanding of technical matters as well as the many managerial principles and skills that IT leaders should be great at.
What makes you laugh?
The same old misconceptions about IT persist year in year out, and outside of the technology workforce the same jokes about IT and what people in IT do roll around again and again. What I love is the embarrassing truth in some of it - turning it off and on again really does help!