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ollowing the Overall Winner for Most Successful Cultural Transformation at The DevOps Industry Awards 2017 on 18 October 2017, Vice-President of Cloud Technology at Barclays Investment Bank, Nick Funnell, explains to TEST Magazine Journalist, Leah Alger, the importance of creating a significant culture within the work place
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR JOURNEY TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE? My background is as a financial software developer – my most recent role before I joined Barclays was within Credit Risk Analytics. I joined Barclays with a background in high-performance computing and analytics, but I quickly transitioned into cloud technology and infrastructure. In my current role I spend most of my time enabling others, and working out how we can most effectively engage with the rest of the bank. Partly, I spend time guiding our development methodology and the tools we employ, and work around how we’re organised and structured, and the ‘cultural’ aspects. We have many very smart technologists, and it’s essential that we ensure the needs of the organisation are met while letting them concentrate on what they’re best at. WHY DO YOU THINK BARCLAYS DESERVED TO WIN THE ‘MOST CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AWARD?’ Our team of 70 or so people is part of Barclays GTIS (Global Technology Infrastructure Services). We have moved from a functionally-silo’d infrastructure organisation to a flat, cross-functional cloud delivery team. We have – in effect – gone from ‘racks and cables’ to near the cutting edge of softwaredriven infrastructure. While we’ve employed many of the latest techniques and tools that help to enable ‘DevOps’, fundamentally, this has been about the people: How we work as an organisation, how we communicate with each other, how we’ve challenged accepted conventions. Top-down transformation rarely works, and our success has been due to the efforts of every single person at every level within our team.
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DO YOU PREFER TO WORK INDEPENDENTLY OR AS A TEAM? Personally, a mixture of both. I don’t have as much dedicated time as I did in my previous role to focus on writing code, although there are others in the team that are far better at that than me, these days. Ultimately, everything we deliver is, in some way, a team effort, so I take satisfaction from that. WHAT TYPE OF WORK ENVIRONMENT DO YOU PREFER?
I joined Barclays with a background in high-performance computing and analytics, but I quickly transitioned into cloud technology and infrastructure
This is a tricky one. There’s a lot been written about context switching, and how hard it is to focus in an open-plan office, yet we also have many useful face-to-face conversations, and there’s huge benefit in teams spending time together. Ideally, I think you’d want a mixture of open-plan desks collaboration spaces, breakout areas, but with small rooms available for focused work. We do our best with what’s available, and we have many collaboration tools, and extensive video conferencing in order to ensure we can work effectively across our locations. It gives a great sense of camaraderie and team work in all of our offices, and helps us feel like one team – it works really well. WHAT PROBLEMS HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED WHILST AT WORK, AND HOW DID YOU HANDLE THEM? A lot of the challenges we’ve faced have been due to the complexity of the organisation. Infrastructure – as you’d expect – underpins the technology that keep the bank running, and thus the whole bank is waiting for the services we’re delivering. We have a wide array of stakeholders, many with differing priorities. We’re also engaged with many different parts of the organisation, so the main challenges have been around getting everybody to understand the vision of what we’re doing, and thus to push in the same direction – the success around our cultural transformation is partly due to how we’ve formed crossfunctional teams, and I’d like to see that culture spread further across the organisation.
NICK FUNNELL LEAD DEVELOPMENT AND PRACTICES BARCLAYS
Nick lead development and practices within the GTIS Hosting CTO organisation, focusing on the delivery of cloud platforms and services within Barclays. His background is in software development within financial services. Before his role at Barclays, he worked in credit risk analytics and high-performance and distributed computing.
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