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Interim security leaders head up huge teams, babysit massive budgets and are (for a time) responsible for some of the most well known brands in the world. In this episode we talk to Alex Clixby and Ian Golding experienced interim and fractional CIOs to find out more about the role. What challenges are unique to an interim? What sort of skills are needed to hold such a crucial role for a short period of time. Is Interim a way to avoid burnout or is it more prone to the issues?

For companies who want the strategic vision, the board advice, the technical horsepower and some high level I.T. leadership but can’t afford it or just just can’t really justify it full time, that’s where a fractional role comes in and I think is a very useful tool for these organizations.

—Alex Clixby, Fractional CIO
Alex Clixby

 

Timestamps

*(0:01): Introductions*(12:44): How do you measure success?
*(1:44): What is a Fractional CIO?*(16:14): What led you into these careers?
*(2:12): What is an Interim CIO?*(20:06): Is there a particular amount of experience you need before you can offer your services, as an interim or a fractional CEO?
*(3:15): What sort of size organizations would have an interim CIO and Fractional CIO role?*(22:07): Does this kind of work ever get lonely?
*(5:00): What is it that makes them realize they need this kind of role?*(25:14): Is it ever your role to find your replacement? And if it is, how do you go about doing that?
*(7:18): How do you, as an external pair of eyes, really get in and make any changes to culture?*(27:15): How do you go about finding business?
*(9:42): Are there any recurring themes at the moment to the sorts of projects that you're both being brought into?*(31:04): Closing

 

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On this episode

Ian Golding
Interim CIO

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Ian Golding

Ian Golding has been a Chief Information Officer, Chief Technical Officer, and Data Privacy Officer, leading global commercial technology programmes for over 20 years. He has recently been Interim CIO at real estate FTSE100 firms Landsec and Unite Students. As Interim Group CIO at Anthesis Group, the world’s largest group of dedicated sustainability professionals, Ian developed the suite of ‘Anthesis Digital;’ products now used to provide sustainability solutions to clients, and he has also provided fractional CIO advisory support to best-in-class privately held companies.

Ian was Interim CIO at the Natural History Museum. At the NHM he created the organization’s Technology Strategy and Vision to support its dual role as a center of excellence in leading scientific research and a world-leading museum. He has also worked in interim leadership roles at the leading global STEM skills provider SThree Plc, the RNLI world leading maritime rescue and drowning prevention organization, and Southern Housing Group.

Ian has a passion for fostering collaboration and innovation to exploit the benefits of technology and data in permanent, interim, fractional, and private consulting roles. He is a Fellow of The Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the IET and a Chartered Professional Fellow of The BCS. He is also an investor who mentors digital startups. By devoting time to helping emerging businesses, his aim is to help grow the digital ecosystem.

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Alex Clixby
Fractional CIO

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Alex Clixby

Starting his career as a Commissioned Officer in the British Army and then working in several IT leadership roles, Alex established One IT Consulting in 2020. He specializes as a fractional CIO, offering leadership, board advice, strategic guidance, and services to transform, modernize and improve IT. He currently works as a fractional CIO for several businesses across multiple sectors.

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Emily Wearmouth
Director of International Communications and Content at Netskope

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Emily Wearmouth

Emily Wearmouth runs Netskope’s communications across EMEA, LATAM, and APAC. Working across public relations, social media, customer references and content creation, Emily keeps busy unearthing stories and telling them in a way that helps customers and prospects understand what Netskope can do for them.

LinkedIn logo

Ian Golding

Ian Golding has been a Chief Information Officer, Chief Technical Officer, and Data Privacy Officer, leading global commercial technology programmes for over 20 years. He has recently been Interim CIO at real estate FTSE100 firms Landsec and Unite Students. As Interim Group CIO at Anthesis Group, the world’s largest group of dedicated sustainability professionals, Ian developed the suite of ‘Anthesis Digital;’ products now used to provide sustainability solutions to clients, and he has also provided fractional CIO advisory support to best-in-class privately held companies.

Ian was Interim CIO at the Natural History Museum. At the NHM he created the organization’s Technology Strategy and Vision to support its dual role as a center of excellence in leading scientific research and a world-leading museum. He has also worked in interim leadership roles at the leading global STEM skills provider SThree Plc, the RNLI world leading maritime rescue and drowning prevention organization, and Southern Housing Group.

Ian has a passion for fostering collaboration and innovation to exploit the benefits of technology and data in permanent, interim, fractional, and private consulting roles. He is a Fellow of The Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the IET and a Chartered Professional Fellow of The BCS. He is also an investor who mentors digital startups. By devoting time to helping emerging businesses, his aim is to help grow the digital ecosystem.

LinkedIn logo

Alex Clixby

Starting his career as a Commissioned Officer in the British Army and then working in several IT leadership roles, Alex established One IT Consulting in 2020. He specializes as a fractional CIO, offering leadership, board advice, strategic guidance, and services to transform, modernize and improve IT. He currently works as a fractional CIO for several businesses across multiple sectors.

LinkedIn logo

Emily Wearmouth

Emily Wearmouth runs Netskope’s communications across EMEA, LATAM, and APAC. Working across public relations, social media, customer references and content creation, Emily keeps busy unearthing stories and telling them in a way that helps customers and prospects understand what Netskope can do for them.

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Episode transcript

Open for transcript

Emily Wearmouth [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Security Visionaries podcast. I am Emily Wearmouth and this week is my turn to be your host again. So I'm battling through a cold, which you may be able to hear because I'm really looking forward to this conversation. I'm joined today by two guests and I'm going to start by introducing them to see if you can guess what we're going to be talking about. So first up, Alex Clixby has been working as a fractional CIO since 2021 following a long career, which first saw him as a commissioned officer in the British Army and then led on to a range of full time I.T. leadership positions for Footsie 100 type organizations. Then he set up his own business and is now offering his services as a contractor. Welcome, Alex.

Alex Clixby [00:00:39] Hi. Good morning.

Emily Wearmouth [00:00:41] Ian Golding is an interim CIO, is an executive director and then a board advisor and an investor. I guess that's pretty much the definition of a portfolio career. And through his career as an interim, Ian has worked with a number of private equity backed firms across a whole load of industries, including sustainability, real estate. I might forget one here housing, telecoms. And he's also worked for a number of great British institutions, including the RNLI, lifeboats. For those of you not in the UK and the Natural History Museum. In these roles, he's been accountable for overseeing cybersecurity, among other things. So can you guess what we're going to be talking about today? We are going to be talking about alternatives to a full time CIO or CISO or tech leader. I'm going to be asking what is a fractional or interim CIO? I'm going to be asking, how does it work? What's good about it? And I might even coax them to tell me some of the downsides, too. So let's start with some definitions so that we all know what we're talking about. Alex, can you kick us off with a definition of a fractional CIO?

Alex Clixby [00:01:44] Yeah, sure. Emily. So a fractional CIO or indeed a fractional anything it just means part time ,it's a partial aside part time. So in this respect, it is somebody who works part time for an organization. As a as a CIO, it's a contract role. Generally, for myself, I work anything from from two to maybe eight or ten days per month for for each client, which, which is great because it means I can have a number of clients at any one time.

Emily Wearmouth [00:02:12] Yeah. And. And Ian what about an interim CIO? What's an interim?

Ian Golding [00:02:16] Yes, I probably fit the mold more of an interim. But yeah, know the difference between an interim and a fraction, I would say is that fraction is a brilliant way of getting CIO type thinking without having to bite the bullet and actually fund a full role. So it can be incredibly valuable to help an organization with that thought, leadership, planning and oversight, etc.. I think an interim role is probably more akin to like a full time role for a certain period of time. So therefore, it's not so easy to have other clients, although there might be not exec type engagements around that, which actually can be helpful in the interim role to make sure you're well grounded and connected to what's going on. But I think, yeah, an interim role will probably focus on solving a particular problem or maybe a cluster of problems where an organization just knows something can be better or different somehow. It just needs help to to turn a corner and walk through those changes. Yeah.

Emily Wearmouth [00:03:15] And what sort of size organizations would have an interim CIO role Ian?

Ian Golding [00:03:19] I think it probably suggests a certain size or certain critical mass of a a few hundred people or a certain level of revenues, because otherwise it's a very heavyweight role. I mean, you kind of, I would think, probably an interim CIO role. It becomes more important where there is more complexity in an organization and a more business units, more branches, more products and services, etc., more teams. So probably helping to achieve scale and be more clear about, you know, how to fund initiatives and products and services, etc.. Yeah. So I think I think probably sort of, you know, a level of a few hundred people and upwards, but it can be very varied and some of the engage was done will be helping these interim CIO type thinking to help smaller start ups to grow as well because it's a rich extra, isn't it?

Emily Wearmouth [00:04:06] Alex When you're working with your clients, do they tend to be a certain size within that? Do they tend to have anybody who is already responsible for technology?

Alex Clixby [00:04:17] Yeah. So I think generally small to medium businesses, most of my clients are anywhere between 50 and 500 staff. I think the point Ian made a minute or two ago about it generally is for companies who can't afford to have a full time CIO, whether that's a permanent CIO or whether it's an interim CIO. But [00:04:36]for companies who want the the strategic vision, the board advice, the technical horsepower and some some high level I.T. leadership but can't afford it or just just can't really justify it full time, that's where a fractional role comes in and I think is a very useful tool for these organizations. [17.9s]

Emily Wearmouth [00:04:57] A question for both of you. When these organizations are in. Engaging with you. What is it that makes them realize they need you? Are they aware of the problems that they need you to fix? Or is that a big part of your job of revealing the challenges to them?

Alex Clixby [00:05:10] Yeah, I think I think generally for me, it tends to be for businesses who know they've got a problem, they know something's wrong, but they're not quite sure how to put a finger on it. Or even if they do know how to fix it, they probably don't have the wherewithal to do so. I'm sorry, Emily, you asked me a question in the earlier question, and I didn't quite answer it because you asked whether these organizations tend to have an i.t person in already. Again, i tend to have a little bit of a mixture there. Some of the companies I work with do already have an i.t leader, maybe just a singleton post. Some actually have an i.t team. Generally not very large teams, some have nobody from IT at all and maybe just have a an external managed service provider. So I think it depends a little bit what they've got in there already. If they have got IT leadership in there, I think generally they have a better idea of what's wrong. They maybe just need help prioritizing that and a little bit more experience than they've got in how to fix it for a company. You have nobody in it then, then generally they haven't got a clue. They, they just, they just realize something's not quite working right. You know, it maybe it just doesn't seem very effective. It's not very efficient. Maybe they're paying a lot for IT and not not feeling they're getting a lot of return of investment. So I think that's just generally when someone like myself can come in and help to, to decide and advise.

Ian Golding [00:06:35] I think Alex would probably, we probably have people describe a lot of symptoms that they see don't they get you gave some of those you know another symptom might be in slightly larger organizations might be that it's hard for a head of IT or an IT director or CIO to stay in the organization for a while. And and it may be that it's not entirely the perfect fit for those that previous role or sometimes many roles that come and go. But actually the underlying problem is probably one of culture prioritization and what the organization itself decides it needs. So, you know, I think the experience that we can provide is I'm thinking that in going to the root cause can be quite hard because everyone has a complex areas of functional work to be focused on domain.

Emily Wearmouth [00:07:18] That's an interesting point around culture, how do you as an external pair of eyes really get in and make any different make changes to culture?

Ian Golding [00:07:29] For me, I would say the changes in the culture have to come from the people within the organization wanting that change. Therefore understanding that there are there is a different way or different ways. And the reason I say not just a different way, but there may be different options is I think is really important, like the listening that goes on to understand what's really going on from different perspectives so that people can actually think about what's going on and want something to change and see some benefits to them. And it can be a bit like lining up Swiss cheese. I'll be honest. Sometimes, you know, Swiss cheese and the holes to to line up where you're trying to find a path forwards. There is always a path forwards, I think is very important. It comes from the people in the organization themselves. Let's face it, Alex and I will be metaphorically here today, gone tomorrow. We're trying to help an organization turn a corner so that it can run itself in a way perhaps with a different sense of direction or different priorities. So I think, you know, that's that's the approach that I tend to use is by sort of studying what other people's perceptions are working with them, probably a strong elements of mentoring and coaching that goes into that as well.

Emily Wearmouth [00:08:41] Alex, do you have any thoughts? I love that Swiss cheese analogy, by the way. I've never heard it and I'm determined to use it this week. Any thoughts from you Alex?

Alex Clixby [00:08:47] I agree with everything Ian said. I think we're there as advisors. We're there to guide the business. We will often make a decision in our mind of where we need to go, but ultimately we're recommending the permanent members of staff, the senior management team, the board on the way to go. And really it's for them to accept that and to move forward on that. But having that culture of change is really key to our roles because I have been into a few businesses where whatever I say, whatever I recommend, it's not always necessarily something they want to do because they just don't have that culture of change or wanting to accept change. And I think that's really important. So if anyone does want to hire people like myself, and Ian they can make our life a lot easier by by wanting to accept the change that we're that we're often recommending.

Emily Wearmouth [00:09:42] That's a good point. And are there any recurring themes at the moment to the sorts of projects that you're both being brought into? You know, we've we're seeing some big shifts in trends, macroeconomic conditions, you know, are risk management or consolidation projects, particularly prevalent or is it a real mixed bag still? Alex, one for you.

Alex Clixby [00:10:03] Yeah, it's a bit of a mixed bag. And I think I think that's one of the reasons I love I love the fractional role because, you know, no day is the same, no business is the same. But there are definitely themes that run through each of them. I think everybody at the moment is is worried about their cybersecurity and whether they have sufficient defenses in their organization to prevent a cyber attack. So I think I think that's something I tend to spend a lot of time on initially when I go into a company checking what their security is like and making recommendations to improve it. Cloud is another thing that gets mentioned a lot of the time, but probably not always how you think. Some companies I'm discussing with them about moving more to the cloud, but some companies who have moved to the cloud haven't found it necessarily to be the the panacea we once thought it was. So often I do look at, you know, not necessarily moving everything back from the cloud, but possibly having more of that hybrid between cloud and on premise.

Ian Golding [00:11:05] And actually, some organizations are very different stages, aren't they? I mean, mentioned cloud, Alex, but I mean, some organizations, some organizations legitimately do have some on premise equipment and services in their data centers, but generally quite a lot just haven't got around to making the changes. I think, you know, that's where we can help with understanding kind of the overall architecture and what everything is there for. Therefore, the legacy systems, how to remove some of those, to remove the costs, the complexity, and therefore, all the foundational tech stuff to be kind of, you know, working well like all the day to day desktop solutions that we provide, video conferencing things or whatever it might be. But I think increasingly on what people find heavy going to see it. Yeah, I think cyber and privacy is incredibly, incredibly high priority. It's hard for organizations to know what to do about it. And I think this is where the senior leadership with tech experience can help to shine a light on what are all these, what are these areas of risk, and then understanding the assets to protect, therefore deciding what to do about it. It's an organization wide topic, having the right tools, but also the capabilities and the people and that's across the organization is not the I.T or the InfoSec team that fixes this stuff. They might take the lead on certain elements, but I also think there's also another area which is where increasingly organizations pride provide digital type products or services. It it requires a way of working that brings different value streams or different teams together in a way that they perhaps didn't need to work together so closely in the past. And the other thing is orchestration to bring people together is is a pretty important area that we can help with to again, not just I.T, is it?

Emily Wearmouth [00:12:44] Yeah, it's a very good point. And I'm just wondering as you're talking, how do you measure the success of what you do if you're in a role where it's a full time role and it's ongoing. Of course we know we need to measure, but you can get away with it a little bit more If you're coming in and you're sending an invoice each month or you've got a limited time period of of operation, how are you capturing the value and reporting that back in some sort of metric to the organizations that you're working with? And I'll start with you. Alex.

Alex Clixby [00:13:13] Yes, it's a really good question, Emily. I always start off with a review of the IT service for the business. So look, looking across everything, people process, technology, security, governance, the list sort of goes on a real sort of drains up review. Look at absolutely everything off the back of that. I tend to get a number of problem statements and each of those problems needs to be remediated. I put them into a priority order and I put in an IT service improvement plan. I think the best way to judge how successful we are is by how many of those problem statements we can remove and how quickly and how quickly we get through the service improvement plan. So I tend to stay with an organization from between 6 and 12 months, depending on how long they want to keep me and how long it takes to get through those improvements. I think generally at about the six month point, I've normally got about 70%, maybe 75% through that service improvement plan. So I think generally it shows it shows some good achievements. Again, it goes back to that point around culture and change and acceptance of change. And clearly a lot of these changes do require the businesses buy in. If they require financial investment, then that's obviously a it can become a difficult conversation for some companies because I them to watch their pennies, especially at the moment in the current climate. But obviously a lot of improvement will need some sort of investment.

Emily Wearmouth [00:14:47] Ian, what about you.

Ian Golding [00:14:48] Yeah I think I think they're very good examples and you know, and you could also say in a way it's for others to judge after we've done our work. I mean, I think another interesting way to look at it is like, does the organization feel it can continue down a path which may change of course, is not going to be that path forever, but continue down the journey. So that I mean, this is where I think our skill in working with others to bring about the change to that culture that others want to bring about. Change is important because otherwise, you know, there's a danger that we we just kind of we leave and then others just regress and everything goes back. So I think that's one thing that we probably saw a bit of a worse fear. But I think, you know, it can be very helpful after oiur terms to see that there's visibility of risk and an organization knows their position on risks. Therefore, what to do about cyber. Just that clarity is important, I think providing greater progress around projects. Maybe there are some PM related sponsors, PMO related sponsorship, so there is more clarity on what can be delivered when and avoid the drag of long running costly projects. I think less noise. That's perhaps a bit subjective, but less noise and chatter and objections around things that people are more clear on what's doing transparency of costs. Alex, you mentioned that's a brilliant one. Just to know know what it is that the organization is spending on and how that lines up with the priorities and ultimately, the ability of the executive teams and the organization to advance and meet its goals.

Emily Wearmouth [00:16:14] Now we've talk a little bit about what you do for the organizations that you work for. And I'm thinking we've probably got some listeners who are interested in a career like this for themselves. So I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about it as a career fractional and interim CIO as a career. So my first question would be really, what led you into these careers? You both come from backgrounds in in more full time permanent roles. How did you end up doing this? Should we start with you this time Ian?

Ian Golding [00:16:40] Yeah, sure. So I think it probably tells you something about yourself, what you're like between these roles, particularly as I do less fractional and more interim roles. So it can be very full on. I probably learned that in my retirement it's probably not good to expect that I'll be happy just sitting reading a book for a day or two. But then there's a the flip side positive side of that is opportunity in between. So to keep fresh, engaged with the community, understand what's going on, obviously attend some events, you know, maybe undertake some training or whatever it might be. But I think I think that sort of a little resilience, mental resilience is needed between the roles because there'll be periods of some weeks or sometimes some months where I have to flip into a different mode of thinking and not feel too worried about what might come. Something always comes along. I've been fortunate, blessed with some incredibly great questing class organizations, But until you know what's coming next, yeah, it can be a little mental resilience needed to work through that.

Emily Wearmouth [00:17:42] So good for people who are resilient and get bored easily. In summary.

Ian Golding [00:17:48] As long as your next role keeps coming. Yeah, that's part of the working in between, isn't it, to look for that.

Emily Wearmouth [00:17:54] Alex, what are your thoughts?

Alex Clixby [00:17:56] I agree with everything Ian said. I mean, I actually started off when I went to set my business up four years ago. I actually started off as a full time interim CIO. And I did I did that for for a year. I got to the end of that year and and quite frankly, we'd made some huge steps within that company, made some huge improvements and bought in ahead of IT. I was doing a very good job and it sort of left the business still wanting to keep me, but not really needing a full time service. They sort of just, just just got me thinking and just thought, well, what if I had a couple of businesses like this and then just just out of nowhere, quite, quite. Luckily I got contacted via LinkedIn to see whether I wanted to go and work as a CTO, part time for a healthcare company, and I took that one on and before I knew it, I sort of I fell into fractional work and at times I've had up to six different CIO roles. I think generally I prefer to have about four or five, but it's just it's just sort of found me. But, but I do really enjoy I really enjoy the variety of it. I like the ever changing challenge like Ian I get bored very easily and just want I want something a little bit different in my life, but I'm also knocking on a little bit and I sort of I'm looking toward the future and thinking I wouldn't want to retire in five years, but I wouldn't want to reduce my days. And and having a number of part time roles is quite a good way to do that. And it sort of fits into my my time of life. And if I want to go down to work at a three or four day week, then I can because I can just sort of reduce the number of clients I have. But but I absolutely do agree with Ian about peaks and troughs, and I think any any type of contract work, you sort of take the rough with the smooth face and firm in. I hear a lot and it can be it can be full on, it can be really, really busy, which is, which is great when you're self-employed, but also you can have a few weeks or months where it's not quite so busy. So you have got to be pretty resilient and you've got to walk into it eyes wide open, accepting that fact, because if you expect it to be like a permanent role where it's all just steady state, I think you'll be a little bit shocked.

Emily Wearmouth [00:20:06] I'm going to phrase this question very carefully because I don't want to offend anybody, but nobody on this call is in their twenties. I'm going to leave it at that. And so I wonder whether is there a particular amount of experience you need to get under your belt before you can offer your services, as an interim or a fractional CEO? And if there is, how much? How much do you need to clerk before you can do this?

Alex Clixby [00:20:25] I think I think you absolutely need to. And if you're going to be a CIO of any type, whether it's fractional, interim, permanent, you need to have chalked up enough years of experience. I mean, I think I don't I don't know of any CIOs who have got less than 20 years working in I.T. leadership. So that's probably why we're on the slightly more mature end of the spectrum. But but I think I think you need that experience. And I'll talk about a fractional role. You've got to go into each of these businesses very quickly, figure out what's going on, hit the ground running. And you need you need to be able to bring in a huge level of experience and scales very, very quickly. And I think for that, I wouldn't feel comfortable going in and doing this with anything less than that 25, 26 years of experience that I've got in.

Emily Wearmouth [00:21:13] Ian any thoughts from you?

Ian Golding [00:21:14] Yeah, So I think that's right. I mean, when I mentor people that are much earlier in the stages of their career, I kind of joke with them about how you don't suddenly become an actual CIO on a particular date. And there are stages, but I think the more you've done more seen more different types of activity problems, fix things or been involved over a number of years, of course, it's part of the toolkit, isn't it, to understanding how to read a situation. So I think more experience can be very advantageous, you have to have been in these sorts of environments a few times that said, there's a bit of a catch 22, isn't there? If you've been in one role like I have been for 15 years and four times backed firm, you have to start somewhere, so maybe start somewhere. You're a little bit rough around the edges and you just have to gain your experience and hopefully hone your skill over time.

Emily Wearmouth [00:22:07] Yeah. Now I've dodged I managed to not offend anybody by talking about age, so I'm now going to get personal and just ask, does it ever get lonely? You know, your you're moving from business to business. Yes. You're borrowing other people's teams or you're supporting other people's teams. But in a lot of ways, you're a team of one. Does it get lonely? And if it does, what do you do to try and combat that? I'll start with you, Ian.

Ian Golding [00:22:33] It can be because I think there's a lot of pressure for us to deliver something in our roles. And it's not always clear, always what the you know, what that something is. Something new develops. Often when we're fixing more foundational issues, I think engaging with our tech communities can be incredibly rewarding and seeing how other people's evolving, hear other people's stories of what they're doing and frankly, sometimes engaging with others at events and and hearing how people have some of the similar issues kind of makes you feel like you're not alone. It can be lonely, but I think actually within within the roles themselves, while they're full on. I think if that sets up with a kind of writing that with sponsorship or engagement at the senior levels, that can also provide some cover and a little understanding of what we're actually engaging to do for the organization is actually what the organization wants and needs. And so it feels a little bit lonely in that situation when you feel that there are supporters for you on that journey.

Emily Wearmouth [00:23:27] Alex, any thoughts from you?

Alex Clixby [00:23:29] Yeah, I think probably doing less days per month for an organization probably makes it feel even more lonely. So whilst Ian is an interim, Ian's working full time, so it probably feels most days like a permanent role. For myself, it it doesn't always feel like that. Some of my my clients that I've had for over a year, I tend to just work maybe one two days a month. So therefore I have a fairly limited contact with them. So I'll often go on a call and you know, everyone's everyone's got an in-joke that they're sharing. And I'm sat there thinking, Well, I don't know this in-joke because I wasn't on the call with them at the start of the week. So I think from that perspective it can be, but it's like anything, isn't it? If you want to do it, even though there are maybe negatives to doing it, you've just got to get on with it. And, you know, not not that affect, you know, not, not get upset if you feel lonely. I think initially a lot of the loneliness was because I started this during COVID and during lockdown. So I literally did all of my work because, as a lot of people did in the country and across the world, and they did it working from home. So I think my first my first interim role, I met the board in real life nine months into the job. I'd spoken to most of them on teams calls many times a week. But to finally meet people nine months in was a very strange situation to be in. But, you know, up until that point, just talking to people on teams was great, but you don't quite get to know people properly and you don't quite get that sort of bonding. So I guess that led to loneliness a little bit.

Emily Wearmouth [00:25:14] Yeah. And now thinking as you're coming to the end of a contract with a client, is it ever your role to find your replacement? And if it is, how do you go about doing that?

Ian Golding [00:25:24] Yes. So a few things connected with that, both setting the scene in terms of what an organization could or should expect from a future person in that role and how to how to curate the role itself. And that's incredibly important. So, yes, in terms of scene setting and actually working through that, because having got a lot of deep cultural insights into how an organization works, how decisions really get made and yeah, and where the priorities lie and in some cases actually directly being involved with others to help them to explore the possibilities and find the right person, I think that could be incredibly impactful to set a scene for the next role to be successful, especially in the multiple organizations where I've been after many people have gone before and, I wouldn't say it's the fault of the people that have gone before. It was probably a combination, a mixture of factors that are not being set up right.

Emily Wearmouth [00:26:21] Alex, how about you?

Alex Clixby [00:26:22] I think for me, generally, if I'm finding a replacement for me as a fractional CCIO, it's probably cause I have not done a very good job because, because generally all I'll say for as long as they need me and when they don't need me, it's because they don't need a fractional CIO. So generally I haven't I haven't had to do that. What would I have had to do though is as part of my people review of maybe recommended that we do need media a singleton IT post maybe an IT manager or a head of IT or something. So what i what i have often done as part of my role is to is to recruit for that role. So again, if you're in an organization who doesn't really understand IT they don't really understand an IT person's CV and all the peculiarities within that. So I have spent quite a lot of my time as a fractional, you know, sifting through CVs, interviewing people and trying to get the right person for that business.

Emily Wearmouth [00:27:15] And then I guess my final question to bring it to a close is how do you go about finding your business? So as you're closing off on a client or reducing your days as a fractional CIO or you're coming to the end of your contract as an interim CIO, is it a business development exercise? Is it a sales exercise to find the organizations that you work with, or is it more of a sort of a traditional job hunting recruitment exercise? And I'm guessing we might have slightly different answers from each of you. So I'm going to start with Ian this time.

Ian Golding [00:27:44] Well, it's not a sales exercise for me because I think my friends and colleagues would find it pretty creepy if I started being a salesperson, I'm just not. Why I'm curious and I really genuinely enjoy really love talking to other people, business leaders more broadly, like chief execs or others that are running a business or are involved in a business in what it is they like to do. Really, really curious about what tech, digital, and data can do for that organization. So sometimes that leads to conversations that lead to further possibilities, that provides it very informally without the clear meant for the pipeline for future work, and just being there to continue the dialog. Very interested in what tech does, not what it is. And I think that helps us to be engaged in the right topics for solving problems. So that's my approach. And yeah, I suppose as long as I know the next role will come at some point from that curiosity, I'm satisfied.

Emily Wearmouth [00:28:41] What about you, Alex?

Alex Clixby [00:28:43] I hate to say that I'm a salesman, but for some, for some weeks or day, or even months of a year, I am. And it's not something I ever thought I would do. But yeah, I guess because I'm changing role more frequently, as I say, the fractional roles, some of them do last over a year, but some some tend to come to a natural end between six and 12 months. So therefore I need to find additional work. So I do go into salesman routine, I do business development. I think having a really strong network is very important and I'm not sure if I should sell LinkedIn on this call, but I'm certainly linked to it helps me a lot. I have my own website as well, so I get a bit through that. But I think having networked pretty hard over the last few years and knowing a lot of people in it, but also in businesses and also getting referrals has helped me a lot. There's nothing there's nothing better than doing a good job for a for a business. And then, I don't know, just probably talking over a beer with a friend of another business who says, Oh yeah, our IT is a right bag of spanners or it's not really doing what it should do. And they say, Oh, you should have a chat with this guy who's just been our CIO. And that tends to open a few doors for me, thankfully.

Ian Golding [00:29:55] And Alex, there's some irony actually, isn't there, that whhen we do our work, it's well received and things progress well that we're no longer required. So it's almost like creating our own end.

Alex Clixby [00:30:07] You know, it is. And when I when I started this job, I used to joke with a few of my friends, not IT friends, because I think IT friends would just tell me to shut up. But my non IT friends thought it was quite funny that, yeah, you almost get rid of your job by doing a good job but at the end of the day, that's that's what, that's what you're there for. Especially for a fractional role, they want to get you in. They want to get you in pretty quickly. They want you to make changes as quickly as possible, and then they want you to go off and do something else generally. So you do sort of become the master of your own downfall in some ways. But then it's good because as I said at the start of the call, the reason I love a fractional role is because I like the the new opportunities and a change in what I'm doing. So actually, if I can get in and fix a business' IT and then move on to the next step. It keeps me keeps me excited. It's brilliant.

Emily Wearmouth [00:31:04] Well, you've sold me. Both of you have sold me. I'm off to find jobs as interim CIOs and fractional CIOs. Thank you both so much for your time today. I found it hugely interesting. I'm increasingly seeing these job titles pop up on LinkedIn, so now I feel I've got a much better understanding of who these people are and exactly what it is they're doing. So thank you very much for your time today.

Ian Golding [00:31:26] Thank you, Emily. Thank you, Alex. Nice to see you both.

Alex Clixby [00:31:29] Yeah, you too.

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