The Royal Household
KELLY GOODWIN – CIO Interview Series
Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself
I recently started my role as the Chief Information Officer for The Royal Household, my focus is to lead business change and transformation in all areas of digital, data and technology to help support organizational objectives and ensuring that our investments are delivering value.
I pride myself on being a technology leader who has led many successful transformations in challenging environments. I enjoy introducing change that has a lasting impact and enhances organizational capability and promotes diversity in the work environment.
What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?
A very interesting journey indeed, I never thought when I was in my teens and early twenties I would end up choosing a career in technology. My passion was to be a high profile lawyer dealing with Mergers and Acquisitions. Having completed my Law degree and post graduate education I secured a training contract with a local law firm. Life had something else in store, I got married and soon my oldest came along. I needed a job that paid better and moved into a role in a local authority.
That lead to a number of opportunities in the roads and transport sector and was going to be the foundation on which I would build and grow my career. A key milestone was when I became director for a joint venture company, reporting into the board. This unknowingly at that time was my main exposure to running a business and leading all aspects of technology.
Has it always been your vision to reach the position you’re at? Was your current role part of your vision to become a tech leader?
I’ve always been focused and committed but never really considered a career in technology, it always came across unless your origins started in the tech industry you couldn’t be successful. One of the roles I say to everyone which was a career defining moment was the role in leading the maintenance and operations of the London underground. This was a high profile role and there was no where to hide from a delivery perspective. Not only did I have to transform the organization, I had to improve delivery and understand the complex technology landscape through which services were maintained.
My main motivation has been driven by interest in making a difference rather than achieve a status. I soon found myself going into organizations leading business and technology transformations, bringing about change in people, process and technology. These roles developed and broadened my understanding of what is needed to be a technology leader.
Although things are getting better, there are many obstacles for women wanting to reach board level roles, the one piece of advice I can give is be true to yourself, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You must be hopeful, resilient. I think it’s important you understand where you can add value and when you need to ask for help.
Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?
I’ve not had mentors as such however, I am grateful to one or two people who supported me by giving the right opportunities at the right time. They took a leap of faith in what I could bring the table and it certainly has paid off. The important point I have learnt is build credibility quickly and become known for getting things done.
As I matured my career there is a recognition that a mentor is important as having a network of friends who are always there as a sounding board and keep you grounded. You can’t go through life’s journey on your own.
How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?
The role of technology leader has already moved to being more strategic and multidimensional. They need to play the role of a business differentiator bringing about change to create value and have an elevated business sense. They need the ability to shape and support the organization to adapt as a result of the economic climate. Having good foresight becomes a valuable skill.
Overall they will become the business consultants and corporate leaders.
What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?
Technology leaders need to illustrate a fair amount of leadership, ownership and decision-making abilities to support and guide senior stakeholders and the teams working under them. They need to be good partners to the business who influence, negotiate, are good listeners and empathetic. Being visionary is always going to be key, as the world of technology changes leaders need to support the organization to adapt.
How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?
Having been fortunate to have worked in a number of good companies provided the opportunity to look at technology and how it supports a business through different lenses. This has matured my approach to how I deal with thing s as one size definitely doesn’t fit all. When you reach a certain point in your career people come to you and participate in thought leadership and round table forums, I think these are a great opportunity to collaborate, ask open questions and learn from each other.
The technology landscape changes daily, its good to keep up with what’s happening around the world, observing and thinking through impact for your organization. To help with that I read blogs on a variety of topics. Most importantly we forget that we can learn from each other, I’ve never been one who is afraid to reach out to peers and colleagues in other organizations and sectors to discuss a particular issue. I think we shy away from cross sector collaboration.
What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?
This depends on your organization and where it is. Like many it will be continue to support the hybrid work environment, making sure that employees continue to receive a good experience through use of video technologies as well as access to collaboration tools, providing the same experience as if they were at work.
There will be focus around value creation through the use of data, this could be increasing productivity to leaner operations through the introduction of ERP and CRM systems. Data will play a key role, it’s an area some organizations are just starting to understand the value it holds as a corporate asset.
If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?
Be true to yourself, keep faith as it wont be a straightforward. Always remain focused there will be things that could derail you from your journey. Always remind yourself why you started in the first place. Above all remain grounded and be humble.
Is there anything in particular that you would still like to achieve in your career or what is the next step on your journey?
I’m at a point now where you can influence many changes, I find it very rewarding to be able to give back, share my knowledge and experience to allow others to develop and grow and if it makes their journey smoother than mine that is the reward.
It gives me great pleasure when I see people who work for me or with me develop and grow into bigger and better things and when you speak to them they say you inspired me and you were never aware. Humility.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Politics, the people who lead these are more obsessed about their personal gain rather than greater good. It creates disparity amongst society.
A big thank you to Kelly Goodwin from The Royal Household for sharing his journey to date.
If you would like to gain more perspective from Tech Leaders and CIOs you can read some of our other interviews here.