CIO Spotlight: Devin Blewitt, ITonlinelearning

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? “Aspiring IT leaders need to understand that success in the field comes from taking a holistic view of technology and its impact on daily operations.”

Headshot of Devin Blewitt, CIO at ITonlinelearning

Name: Devin Blewitt

Company: ITonlinelearning

Job title: Chief Information Officer

Date started current role: June 2020

Location: Sittingbourne, Kent

Hailing from Durban in South Africa, Devin Blewitt has spent the last decade working his way up through the ranks at the project management and IT training provider ITonlinelearning. Joining as an IT Technician, he progressed to become their CIO and Commercial Director, from where he helps direct the organisation’s growth strategies and use of technology.

What was your first job? IT Technician. As an entry-level technician, my role was limited to the on-site workshop.

Did you always want to work in IT? Yes! My mother purchased a Pentium 2, Windows 95 system when I was 11, since then, I’ve been hooked!

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? National Diploma in Information Technology – University of South Africa

A+ Computer Technician - Advanced Concepts

N+ Network Technician - Advanced Concepts

Business Analysis Foundation - BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

Certified Digital Marketing Professional - Digital Marketing Institute

Certified Digital Marketing Specialist - Digital Marketing Institute

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. The initial plan was always to flow within the IT industry until I found the perfect fit. IT offers great career choice due to its variety of job roles, competitive salaries, potential for growth and advancement, and the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology. For a long time, it was web technologies that interested me, and I wanted to pursue that further. My only real detour was sales, this was mainly because I needed a higher income quickly, to pay for my Diploma studies which was not something I was about to give up on. In hindsight, I think this was a valuable silent lesson that has been beneficial to my career. Through passion, I continue to develop myself, and along the way learnt that I love technology and there is always a role for that.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? The biggest business initiative which will influence the rest of the organisation is brand and process improvement, refining what we have and filling the gaps is the goal. Most of the actual investment this year will be directed towards aligning the customer journey and making sure the brand presents itself professionally at all touchpoints.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? I think we already have some answers to big questions, so addressing those gaps in the business is the goal.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? From my experience, and as business grows, new responsibilities seem to have a habit of finding you whether you want them to or not. I do believe you should always embrace new perspectives, which new responsibilities can offer. However, we all only have so much time in the day, so be smart about what you spend it on.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Customer experience will be the focus. Although, improving customer experience is an essential element of business efficiency. By offering customers speedy, seamless service and tailored solutions to their needs, we can reduce time spent on individual activities and activities overall. This in turn leads to greater efficiency, allowing the business to accomplish more with less effort or resources.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? The essential KPI’s for IT are our uptime, security compliance and response time.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Our culture includes respect, trust, shared values, collaboration and open communication. It creates an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their unique skills.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Professional design skills that work with the brand.

What's the best career advice you ever received? If you're going to fail, fail fast.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. We have a very talented and driven team who are self-managing and capable of supporting any role. We are lucky that as an online learning provider, our team has access to industry leading training opportunities.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Aspiring IT leaders need to understand that success in the field comes from taking a holistic view of technology and its impact on daily operations. They must be able to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement, have a strong sense of initiative, and know how to effectively collaborate with other team members.

What has been your greatest career achievement? For me, nothing stands out, it’s the small wins that keep you moving.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Invested more time networking and building relationships.

What are you reading now? The Ultimate LinkedIn Sales Guide by Daniel Disney.

Most people don't know that I… It took 6 years of late nights to complete a 3-year Diploma while working a full-time job.

In my spare time, I like to…Surf the web.

Ask me to do anything but… I painted a house once, never again.