Episode #5: Pivot to Purpose





About This Podcast:

To be honest, we went into today’s podcast knowing we’d be wowed by our guest, Rachel Higham, Managing Director of IT at the communications colossus BT. After all, Neil consistently regales us with stories that paint her as one the most inspirational leaders he’s ever worked with. But truth be told, we were expecting dirt; David and Goliath stories about her fight with the corporate machine, epic battles of her efforts to wrestle BT kicking and screaming into a modern world. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Rachel was still brilliant, of course, but the story she shared gave real insight into how organisations can embrace massive change whatever their size.
The conversation became a rich case study of how to place your purpose at the heart of change in order to remain relevant to customers, talent and stakeholders whilst simultaneously harnessing the organisation’s energy to positively impact society.

This podcast is a frank discussion between host Neil Almond and Rachel about the importance of a socially-rooted purpose and how to avoid the platitudes of green-washing so many organisations resort to. Together, they explored how to attract and keep the best talent and how vital this is becoming, given the changing employment landscape. Rachel gives templates for energising and inspiring change projects within organisations, and explains how Human-Centred Design is driving innovation and allowing her tech teams to place people at the heart of development.

As usual, Neil also asks Rachel to also consider the workplace skills that will be needed to thrive in the years ahead. As someone at the very heart of technological advances in Artificial Intelligence, chat-bots and automation, her answers have a heightened poignancy.

More About This Guest:

“I am a technologist at heart and love to find practical applications for the latest innovations that have the potential to revolutionise a customer experience, simplify a business process or lead to brand new products and services. We live in a world of ever increasing consumer expectations and cross-discipline convergence that is disrupting virtually every business model – I believe there has never been a more exciting time to have a career in technology.

I have spent the past 20 years in various technology leadership roles within Financial Services and Telecoms working for great companies such as Vodafone, ACE Group, HSBC, Marks & Spencer, ABN Amro and now BT. I have been lucky enough to live and work on 4 of our 5 continents and through that have experienced an incredibly valuable and broad range of cultures and working environments.

I am committed to building more diverse and inclusive working environments and have led a number of initiatives to encourage more girls to choose technology subjects in education, guide graduates and talented young managers taking critical steps in their career, help mums return to the workplace and continue their careers, and mentor executives on how to build and embed a supportive and diverse culture. I am the Executive Sponsor for BT’s TechWomen programme helping BT’s female technologists achieve their full potential.

I am passionate about the transformative effect that both sports and the arts can have on all aspects of society and so I am a trustee of the Creative Foundation, an arts charity dedicated to enabling the regeneration of Folkestone through creative activity.

Specialties: Enterprise Architecture, technology/digital strategy definition, IT governance, software development, portfolio management, M&A due diligence and integration, BPO and ADM outsourcing, vendor management, systems integration, application rationalisation, datacentre management & operations, cloud transition”

Useful References:

Human-Centred Design

BT TechWomen

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