Helena Nimmo joined global software company Endava as CIO a year and half ago, having been in the technology industry for 20 years. A native of Finland, she started her career at Finnish technology giant Nokia in the logistics division, before joining Symbian Software and moving to London in 1999. “From there I worked at Fujitsu, then spent a good six or seven years in publishing through both Euromonitor and Thomson Reuters. Working in those different sectors has given me a breadth of understanding that I think has been truly beneficial as I’ve taken on more senior leadership roles.”
Nimmo considers herself fortunate to have inherited an IT estate that was already fairly digital, which greatly helped the organisation pivot to remote working within 48 hours globally due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Making sure that we have got the right types of collaboration tools in place has been absolutely critical, as well as a pivot in cybersecurity as we moved to home working.” With much of the estate being software-as-a-service solutions, that pivot has been made easier, but it brings its own set of challenges around the digital experience. “The challenge is making sure that the data connections are there,” she says. “So you've got that flow of data between the various different systems. That will, for instance, help you if you were to start a new role in an environment where you don't actually get to meet your colleagues, making onboarding much easier and much slicker.”
Another of her inheritances was a culture of openness, creativity and trust, which Nimmo has sought to nurture and protect. “Technology and transformation, technology and change, clearly go hand in hand. If you're introducing new technology, you are changing the way people behave or interact with the system or the data. The way I look at technology and Endava is that we have a good, strong organisational culture and value system. I'm looking at how to use technology to preserve it, rather than change it.”
That strong culture has been especially important through the pandemic. “If I look at my own leadership style, it's collaborative and open. I've always been of the view that you need to be able to challenge me. So I give my team members the space to do that if they don't agree with what I'm saying. That does prompt a better level of conversation, better collaboration and much better results.” The pandemic has created the need for a higher level of sympathy and empathy, which has been necessary to best take advantage of remote working technology. “Working from home, working in isolation suits some better than others, so it’s important to be better listeners. If you think about remote collaboration before the pandemic, if you dialled into a meeting while others were physically present in a meeting room, you were always a bit of a hanger on. That’s definitely changed. Now, people are given the opportunity to talk and encouraged to voice their thoughts and opinions.”
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