Meet the Client; Karl Hoods from Save the Children

John Smith

CIO Karl Hoods has been instrumental in our work with Save the Children and we now have Consultants embedded in various teams across the organisation, Karl has been telling us about his role, digital transformation in the charity sector and the benefits of including FDM Consultants on his team.

Tell us a bit about you, your career journey and your role and company now

I’m currently CIO at Save the Children where I am responsible for setting and delivering the strategy for technology and digital across the UK. This covers all our core activity across, marketing, fundraising, advocacy, campaigning and global programmes.

I started my career as a web developer in 1996, working for an online sports company. I was part of the team which developed an online game and race management system for what was then the Whitbread round the world yacht race. From there I moved to another start-up in a development role and progressed into project and programme management, overseeing a number of large scale digital projects.

I then had a period working as a management consultant specialising in digital delivery across a range of public and private sector clients. This gave me the opportunity to build on skills  I’d learnt in previous organisations and exposure to the public sector through the range of clients worked for.

I then had the opportunity to move from supplier to client and took up a role within a government agency leading the technology function to support a £45bn initiative. Although being part of central government the culture was very much like the start-ups I’d worked for, which despite perceptions, many areas of government are alike. The remit was broad and varied, much like the role I have now and a great opportunity to innovate and add value to the business. This role offered up an opportunity to join the technology leadership team at the Department for Education where I led the service delivery function, moving away from a single systems integrator to a SIAM model and was also the Department’s CTO.

What made you pick technology as a career path?

From a young age I was interested in computing, having played games on consoles like I moved on to a ZX81 and a Commodore 64 and the interest just grew from there.

Give us an overview of your job at Save the Children on a day-to-day basis

Day to day I spend a lot of time in meetings of various sorts, whether that be one to ones with my leadership team, to project boards as sponsor or managing and negotiating with suppliers. A lot of my role is stakeholder management which is an important skill all people involved in technology should seek to develop. I always try and spend some time looking at developments in new technology and how we might exploit that for our organisation and encourage the team to do the same.

How has technology in the workplace/public sector changed during your career?

Technology has changed a huge amount since I started work in 1996. Aside from the changes in the way technology is managed and delivered with the shift to cloud and PaaS/SaaS the biggest changes have been in the way people work. We now have the ability to pretty much work from anywhere at any time which poses challenges for organisations with culture and building team dynamics. This is going to continue to change as well, there’s a great quote I heard from Mark Chillingworth after a hackathon event he hosted which was about graduates not wanting jobs but wanting work. The premise being they didn’t want to be tied down to working for one organisation in one place for the next x years.

When did you begin working with FDM and how have you found the experience?

I first started working with FDM back in 2000 whilst at a startup. We used some of the graduates on their ‘Mounties’ programme and Sheila delivered some training on our standard development approach as the organisation grew. It’s been great to see how FDM has continued to grow from strength to strength and supplement the graduate programme with the ex-Forces scheme. Aside from the calibre of people at FDM what I’ve really liked about working with them is their desire to get to know the customer and really understand what’s needed.

Updated 1 December, 2016