These 25 people have all demonstrated both a proven track record in the world of technology and a keen insight into how it is set to evolve in the next year.
In our Five-Minute CIO series this year, we heard from some of the C-suite professionals on the front lines of digital transformation, data security, product development and more. The series provided an excellent overview of how these areas are evolving and how they may look in the future.
These 25 people, with roles such as chief information officer, chief technology officer, chief information security officer and more helped us to gain a clear picture of how the industry currently stands, and their insights are worth following as we enter a new decade.
As the managing director for Accenture Security, Jacky Fox works across what she has deemed the three pillars of cybersecurity: strategy, implementation and operation.
Speaking to editor of Siliconrepublic.com Elaine Burke in November 2019, Fox detailed her lengthy career spanning more than 20 years, her recent move from Deloitte and the most important security trends for the coming year.
Fox explained that for her, the human element of cybersecurity is going to continue to be a top priority, as is the ongoing risk third-parties pose to organisations. “I think we’re going to see a lot more emphasis on managing third-party risk in the security space – more emphasis than we have to date.”
Ian Hood is chief technologist at Red Hat, which is one of the world’s foremost providers of open source solutions such as Linux, cloud, Kubernetes and containers.
He has more than 30 years’ experience and has served at companies such as Motorola, Nortel and Cisco, and joined Red Hat in his current capacity in 2015.
In September, Hood detailed his growing fascination with AI and machine learning, particularly in terms of how they could be applied to data streams and telemetry. “These developments will unlock new capabilities and use cases for communications service providers that will challenge what we imagine is possible.”
Dr Helen Sun is the chief technology officer of STATS, a leader in sports data and intelligence. She gained her PhD in ed-tech and information systems from the University of Toledo in 2001 and had roles at Oracle, Salesforce and JP Morgan Chase before taking up her current position in 2018.
STATS opened up a Limerick office in 2018 and said at the time that it planned to have 150 roles in place by 2020. “Limerick is one of our key production centres,” Sun explained when speaking to Siliconrepublic.com in June 2019. “We collect the deepest data in soccer and football.”
In May 2019, Didier Clavero was appointed as the CTO of Vodafone Ireland following decades working at various global hubs for the telecoms giant, beginning in Spain, in a number of senior technology roles.
Clavero has overseen the roll-out of Vodafone’s 5G network, which went live in five cities in Ireland in August 2019. He said: “5G is going to be the big change or important step change that we will make in the industry. 5G will enable us to transform nearly everything.”
Deirdre Lee is co-founder and CEO of Derilinx, a provider of linked and open data solutions that promises improved use of business intelligence. Prior to this, she served as a research associate at IBM and with the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway, which is now part of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.
She has always expressed a keen interest in releasing the potential of data that is currently sitting in government agencies, feeling that it could be channelled towards insightful public sector decision-making.
Derilinx is responsible for the management of the Irish Government’s Open Data Portal, which provides access to 9,000 datasets from more than 100 publishers. Through this, Ireland has been ranked as the top country for open data maturity across 32 European countries in a study by the European Commission.
San Francisco-based Mark Risher serves as senior director of product development for Google, and so oversees company strategy for email security and passwords. He was the CEO and founder of hosted security service Impermium, and led the company for almost four years before it was acquired by Google.
Spam and phishing are his wheelhouse, and Risher doesn’t anticipate that this will ever change. The vast majority of these messages tend to get filtered out by automated systems and so never truly reach users. However, Risher has noted that the tailored phishing messages – the ones borne of careful research about the intended target, and so look quite convincing – are still a persistent threat.
Liz Joyce is senior vice-president and CISO at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She gained her bachelor’s degree in computer science from University College Dublin (UCD) before going on to gain a PhD in information security from the University of Plymouth.
She has frequently highlighted the impending risk of a cybersecurity skills gap and how not having enough people could negatively impact the ability of a security team to anticipate and block potential breaches.
‘Chief innovation officer’ may, as a title, sound vague, but in the case of EY’s executive of that title, Frank O’Dea, it really boils down to leading the application of advanced and emerging technologies at the major Big Four firm. His lengthy CV also includes roles with Eircom, Accenture and a two-year stint at the helm of an independent consultancy firm.
O’Dea was at the helm of EY’s recent landmark digital transformation partnership with SAP, which he noted is “one of the biggest alliances that EY has in the world”. He is also a great advocate of having accountants upskill so that they can grasp basic programming languages, such as Python II, to create apps and build small robots. He said: “Some people will be really good at that but everybody needs to have a level of knowledge.”
Wendy Pfeiffer’s educational background is delightfully varied: according to her, it took her more than eight years to get her bachelor’s degree due to indecisiveness about what she wanted to do. She meandered between accounting, astrophysics and journalism, ultimately landing on business administration with a focus on financial accounting.
Currently, she leads the information technology team at cloud computing software firm Nutanix, a San Jose-based cloud computing firm. Prior to that she led teams at GoPro, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and more.
One trend she has highlighted is the extent to which the role of the CIO and IT leader is shifting to become more focused on business strategy. She explained: “IT is changing dramatically, and today’s IT workers need more strategic thinking skills in order to achieve their desired end result and make a greater impact in driving customer success.”
Three Ireland appointed Graham Murphy as its head of data in February 2019, meaning that he leads the company’s centralised data function. He joined the company after years at Deutsche Bank, where he headed up data protection advisory for four years.
He sees 5G and digitalisation as the two major modern tech trends for his industry, with IoT at the centre of the former. “With all of these devices and applications comes a lot more data. The evolution here for our data function will be around how we create the platforms, infrastructure and capability needed to capture and use this data to offer better products and services for our customers.”
Esri Global Network is a $1bn privately held software company that employs 10,000 people worldwide. Its Irish hub, Esri Ireland, specialises in the application of geographic information systems (GIS), a function overseen by its CTO, Eamonn Doyle.
Eamonn has previously worked as a principal consultant with Fujitsu Consulting where he headed up a number of GIS projects. To him, technologies such as big data, IoT and mobile devices are creating “a new era in digital mapping”, allowing for systems to be built that can sense and collect more data than ever before.
Aisling Keegan was appointed vice-president and general manager of Dell EMC Ireland in December 2016, the culmination of a decades-long career at Dell in which she has garnered massive acclaim in her field.
She warned at the beginning of the year that infosec spending would have to increase among organisations as hackers increasingly refine their already sophisticated attacks.
“Security is a serious inhibitor but also an opportunity that is exacerbated by the fact that the adversaries out there that are trying to create business for themselves through ransomware attacks, are actually leveraging the same technologies that every organisation is looking to leverage to create value.”
As global chief digital officer at Lenovo, Paul Walsh focuses on improving the customer experience at all strata of the business, from channels to operating models. He has overseen Lenovo’s ‘intelligent transformation’ journey in 2019, which included transitioning from being a computer reseller to a PC-maker in China and shepherding in changes associated with the company’s acquisition of IBM’s PC business.
Walsh has expressed optimism about how Lenovo is positioned to transition into the 5G future, which he has termed the “next step change improvement”.
Belfast native Catherine Gardiner has worked in both the energy and technology sector for almost 20 years. She got a bachelor’s in information management in Queen’s University Belfast before moving onto Ulster University for her MBA.
Much of her role comprises ensuring that the company is ready for the fast-approaching future of energy, which will involve processing massive swathes of data and incorporating emerging technologies such as smart meters, which she explained will be introduced to the Republic of Ireland in 2020. “I need to work with the team to ensure our systems can handle the additional information and data so that it can be utilised effectively.”
In the four years that Tim Hynes has served as AIB’s chief information officer, the banking landscape has been totally transformed by the rise of fintech and the increasing digitisation of our world. As of 2019, 95pc of all AIB customer engagement is digital – but that isn’t actually the change he is proudest of.
Speaking at Inspirefest (the precursor to 2020’s Future Human), he noted that the most significant obstacle, and thus the most significant transformation, is enabling a culture shift within organisations. Central to that transformation is getting the workforce to understand that a leader constantly putting out fires isn’t one that is going to encourage long-term prosperity. This is a mode of thinking he believes could do with being emulated in other sectors, such as government.
Ravi Singh has been working in the area of mobile development for almost 30 years and has shaped mobile strategy for a number of firms, ranging from small start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. As CTO and co-founder of Catalytic, he also spends a lot of his time considering how AI-powered cloud automation can help make digital transformation easier for businesses.
For our Five-Minute CIO series, Singh detailed how challenging it can be to make complex technologies user-friendly enough that they can be applied at all levels of business.
As Microsoft’s chief security officer in the UK, Siân John helps clients develop their cybersecurity strategy and advises on security best practices for hybrid cloud. Effectively, she has an outside-facing role. For her services to cybersecurity, she was awarded an MBE in 2018 on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.
In her more than 25 years working in this field, one thing she has noticed is how the application of technology is far more broad than it was when she began in the industry, and how this necessitates a change in the demography of the cybersecurity professional pool. “If we all come from the same background and did the same training, then we are not really as well equipped as we could be to protect against the very different ways of thinking and attacking.”
Gerhard Köstler leads the tech strategy for Berlin-based fintech firm Raisin, which covers everything from the engineering team to the technical operations of the company’s systems. He has also overseen the company’s migration of its systems to public cloud, in order to align with changes to regulation.
Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, he elaborated: “One of the big trends in our industry is the disintermediation of financial services and the rise of marketplaces. In other words, the rise of companies offering specialised, superior services and products while cutting out intermediaries.”
Robert McArdle is the director of the forward-looking threat research team at Tokyo-headquartered global cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. He also lectures in malware analysis and cybercrime investigations at Cork IT and UCD.
A major part of his role involves being keenly aware of how the cybersecurity threat landscape is evolving and also keeping pace with the best ways to anticipate those threats. He sees emerging technologies such as IoT and machine learning as a mixed blessing.
While IoT will obviously make devices ‘smarter’, it will also increase the attack surface and open up “whole new avenues of attack” for cybercriminals. Similarly, while machine learning can be a great boon to cutting-edge threat intelligence teams, McArdle anticipates that it could also be weaponised by threat actors against organisations in the future.
“I’m a technologist at heart” as Rachel Higham, chartered accountant-turned managing director of IT at BT, puts it. Prior to taking up her current role, she served as head of cloud and infrastructure at Vodafone.
At the beginning of 2019, she mused that it was definitely going to be an “exciting year”, highlighting in particular the incredible potential of quantum, AI and 5G, and noting BT’s ambitions to roll the technology out during the year. Indeed, she saw her UK 5G forecast come true with BT-owned EE becoming the first UK network provider to launch its 5G network in May 2019.
Mike Loughran has worked at Rockwell Automation for 13 years and was appointed the company’s UK and Ireland CTO in 2017. In this capacity, he has been instrumental in shepherding in the company’s digital transformation – a complex task in the world of manufacturing.
He believes that in order to make this possible, leaders need to utilise “people, process and technology” in equal measure. “Then you have a very powerful combination. Technology for technology’s sake is never a great thing, especially in manufacturing, but by bringing together the new with old, it provides some real benefits,” he said.
Eaton is a US multinational power company that employs nearly 100,000 globally. Ciarán Forde is the company’s segment leader for its data centre and IT operations in the EMEA area.
In his Five-Minute CIO interview, Forde outlined how IT strategy and data centre strategy are inextricably linked and should be seen as “parallel networks”.
Before joining Thales as its CISO, Bridget Kenyon worked in IT and information security roles for a number of esteemed third-level institutions in the UK such as University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, University of Birmingham and Aston University.
She has a knack for using her insights into human nature to inform her cybersecurity practice, as she has previously explained: “People like to trust things. People like to optimise … There’s this gap between what you believe and what is the case, and people don’t understand or don’t engage with technology in such a way that there is a gap.”
Ashwath Nagaraj is the CTO of Aryaka, a company that provides SD-WAN services to globally distributed enterprises. Prior to this, he spent almost seven years working at Cisco in various engineering capacities.
He is a huge proponent of cloud technology and champions how it can be central to helping organisations bring about digital transformation by adopting public cloud and engaging in a “cloud-first security approach”.
Russian cloud services provider Mandarin Solutions is a relative young company formed in 2015 by a group of IT specialists. It promotes the as-a-service model of business, as the company’s CIO Dmitry Shimanskiy recently explained.
To his mind, often enterprise leaders don’t necessarily want “a burden of property requiring constant maintenance”, and so more flexible offerings will soon become a staple of all businesses.
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