From transforming the trading floors of Europe to helping drive and deliver change across our IT department – we caught up with David Hales, Head of IT Service Delivery, to tell us all about the incredible changes he’s made at NFU Mutual in the last year and what his plans are for the future.
Where were you working before you joined NFU Mutual?
For the first 15 years of my career, I worked all over Europe in various IT departments of investment banks. Whether I was solving day-to-day issues or relocating entire trading floors to different offices, during this time it was down to me to ensure that these departments weren’t just operational, but also thinking ahead to the future. From here, I decided to specialise in helping businesses restructure their IT departments, going into roles where I could almost act as a consultant, making improvements and future proofing where possible.
Why did you decide to join NFU Mutual?
I wanted to move into an organisation with a desire to change. I was looking for the sort of challenge that would enable me to use my previous experience as part of the strategic leadership team. NFU Mutual has a great ambition to upgrade and build on their IT infrastructure – they don’t just want to bring everything up to speed, they want to get a lot more structure in place, too. I joined NFU Mutual in October 2016 as Head of IT Service Delivery. Here, my immediate responsibility is the Service Delivery team, making sure that team members are not only focussed on delivering an excellent service but also constantly thinking ahead and looking at service transition and design. My role here is different to previous ones I’ve had, in terms of what I’m expected to deliver – I don’t just look after 6,000 users, it’s all about looking at where we’re going over the next five to ten years which is an incredibly exciting prospect.
What does the IT Service Delivery team do?
We are the face of IT at NFU Mutual. Employees from across the Agency network, Head Office and regional service centres can call the service desk with any IT problems they’re having. From here, our team logs issues and work to fix them as quickly as possible – whether that be themselves or using specialist teams. That’s the operational side; the main thing that the team were doing until I joined. But in the last year I’ve tried to engage teams early to think about what they are delivering and how to change and implement it to meet the business needs of the future. What should we be doing? What new technology do we need? How can we identify issues and improve them before the business asks us to? What do our services look like in five years? Before, we were quite reactive – now the team’s starting to think more proactively. It’s all part of enabling our employees and agents to do their jobs and deliver the very best service to our customers.
What are your future plans for the team?
The whole of IT at NFU Mutual is evolving, not just parts of it. There’s not going to be a body of people working on old systems whilst other colleagues get to work on the more exciting projects. We’re keen to create opportunities in-line with people’s needs – placing people on projects that are suited to their skillset. I want to carry on empowering people to make change by supporting and developing them. I’m always looking for self-starters with get-up-and-go to join us and I want to continue to inspire that excitement and ambition in some of the longer-serving members of the team, too. Our people have a broad range of capabilities that aren’t just technical and we work to put people on different projects depending on their strengths.
What’s the most exciting aspect of your role?
We’re really focused on future technologies. How could we utilise the cloud? What are the risks? How could we deploy this? How do we remove legacy systems while embracing new technologies – across NFU Mutual? The traditional way of delivering IT solutions is being challenged and it’s really exciting. From a technology point of view, it’s all changing and we’re taking NFU Mutual’s whole IT estate on a journey – and I’m delighted to be part of leading that transformation.
We’re always looking for people with bold, fresh ideas to join our IT team. Think you’ve got what it takes? Click here to find out more about our current vacancies.