Holding a degree in electronic engineering and an MBA in strategy, international operations and technology, Philip Clayson, Chief Information Officer, has expertise and skill in his field that is apparent from an impressive resume, including executive-level positions at Oracle, BT, News Corp and TalkTalk, among others. One thing that has characterised his approach in each role has been fast-paced, visionary leadership: “I'm not a steady-state CIO; I'm a transformational CIO.” It is with this attitude that Clayson has been spearheading SSE Energy Services’ digital evolution since mid-2019.
“I've always been in technology,” he says. “I started as an engineer, wrote software and developed infrastructure and security.” From there, Clayson became adept at running large-scale technology teams at Oracle in the UK, Europe and the US, and worked world-wide whilst at News Corp. It was this grounding of 10 to 15 years’ experience early in his career that allowed him to develop a diverse range of skills that would serve him well later on. “I felt I needed a broad range of engineering skills on my path to creating and leading the high-performing teams I now have.”
A customer-centric executive, Clayson identifies the ability of SSE Energy Services’ technology teams to exceed in transforming itself and its capabilities as his personal favourite of his various successes. “We've got a huge customer service reputation,” he says. “ I think, most recently in the time I've been there, the business has accelerated and become more strategic, more commercially aware, and certainly more transformative.” He has been following through on this by driving system transformations that encourage online engagement and digital self-service platforms that place control squarely in the customer’s hands.
Considering the enablement and empowerment of staff to be the hallmark of a true leader in today’s challenging business environment, Clayson states that this was the first element he sought to address upon joining the company. “We looked at our maturity with cloud, cybersecurity, automation and other cornerstones of a modern technology environment, and we decided to put the UK technology team through a massive skills acceleration programme.” Certain that the large-scale investment being made would ultimately pay off (approximately £250,000 in three months) many employees spent almost 50% of their working week in training for many weeks. Clayson confirms that encouragingly positive results are starting to show. “Motivation has never been higher; peoples’ morale has improved and their ability to understand our latest developments in the tech space have matured too,” he stated.
The road to a properly implemented digital transformation can be difficult, but, if he can lead the company through data transformation, cyber transformation, initiate a culture shift and establish better working relationships with partners like Infosys, Clayson states that he will consider the result well worth the effort. “If COVID-19 has taught us anything,” he states, “it’s that IT can find solutions for problems thought unsolvable previously. Culture change, industry change and definitely technology change will shape SSE Energy Services’ future.” With the company’s new-found agility and innovative, forward-thinking approach augmented by the latest digital tech, SSE Energy Services looks set to deliver solutions to customers at a new, unprecedented pace. “I like pace: people understand it. Delivering at pace is what it’s all about.”
“It's very different recruiting people for something you're building from scratch, compared to recruiting for something that is already running.”