CIO Spotlight: Nigel Beighton, ATCORE
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CIO Spotlight: Nigel Beighton, ATCORE

Name: Nigel Beighton

Company: ATCORE

Job title: Chief Information Officer

Time in current role: 5 months

Location: Twickenham, UK

Nigel Beighton is the Chief Information Officer of market-leading travel technology group ATCORE, responsible for technology strategy and leadership. In his 30 years of working in technology, he has built up expertise within the travel industry, including as Chief Technology Officer for both industry pioneers LastMinute.com and Teletext Holidays. In recent years, he has worked with a number of Private Equity companies, Photobox, Symantec and as the International CTO at Rackspace.


What was your first job? It was a summer school job at Sheffield Steel Works as a mainframe operator. Where I grew up in Yorkshire, you were either steel or coal - we were a steel family, but I was the nerd who had found computers so stayed ‘clean' in the office (I was the soft one!).

Did you always want to work in IT? Not initially, I wanted to be a vet, but failed the entrance (a fact that still riles me). I then switched to maths and computing and, being a geek, it is what I have wanted to do ever since.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? School was in Yorkshire, and playing rugby came first, before being accepted into Leeds University, where I obtained a degree in Computing and Operational Research (and played lots more rugby).

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. Up to the age of 30 there was no career path as such, I just had fun. I'll never be quite sure what happened at 30, but all of sudden I took it seriously and still do. I have done most tech roles, from developer, consultant, ops support, project manager, to architect, which has been great grounding for the CTO/CIO roles I have held. Summary: geek all the way.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organization in the coming year? Building a full cloud service. Increasing the sophistication of our search capability and close integration with the new and emerging web and app frameworks. We can now store all of the world's information, and there is so much more we can do for travel using that information.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Ensuring we evolve and expand our products and services, without disrupting our culture and capability. Challenging the market to be better, more effective, with travel technology.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? It may be controversial, but I think many CIOs (not just in the travel sector) are not keeping pace with technology and innovation right now - it is tough to track everything with so much changing, but now more than ever, it is an essential part of the role to understand what companies can and cannot do.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasize customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? No - sorry for the brevity. We, like all of our customers, are already digital.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Our maturity is rock solid; we have been digital from the start.

What does good culture fit look like in your organization? How do you cultivate it? Graham Weston got it absolutely right with "What we all want from work, is to be valued members of a winning team on an inspiring mission". Get that right and then every company will develop, with a bit of good guidance and its own strong culture. Right now, being new, I am in the midst of understanding Atcore's culture, so that I can be effective and part of that inspiring mission.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Good, experienced, motivated people, who will fit right into your culture, are always hard to find. People who I prize the most, in any role, are those that are inquisitive and up for learning new things - we are in a huge technology change period and it needs everyone to be motivated and ready to learn new things.

What's the best career advice you ever received?

  • If you don't know it - learn.
  • People trust integrity.
  • Enjoy it; if you don't, do something else.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Being new, not yet; but I don't see it as a tough challenge - there are good people, I just need to work out the best way to help develop them into the role.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Never go stale, always keep learning. Have integrity and gain trust - people will fight and make remarkable changes for people they trust.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Helping two individuals (at different times and circumstances) turn around their lives from very dark difficult places, to becoming now very happy and successful in their careers and lives.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Not commuted to work on a motorbike (it came to a painful end). Spent more time motivating people and less time telling. Not hesitating to make change when things are not right.

What are you reading now? Besides all the usual tech blogs and Medium articles, Product Leadership (O'Reilly), and just about to start Andrew Ng's Machine Learning Yearning (www.mlyearning.org).

Most people don't know that I… Still skateboard.

In my spare time, I like to…Skateboard; explore deep-water wrecks (mainly in the UK); fly infrared-cameras off kites (old tech drones!) and play Pokémon with my kids.

Ask me to do anything but… Compromise my integrity (and no, this is not a challenge folks).

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