• Articles
  • February 17, 2021
  • Gareth Morris

The Top Challenges Tech Leadership Faces in 2020


The Key Challenges Tech Leaders Face in 2020

At the start of the year your Linkedin feed may have been awash with prediction posts on the challenges that lie ahead in the technology space. COVID-19, presenting it’s own brand of problems and set-backs, has no doubt thrown a proverbial spanner in the works. 

Read on for a rundown of challenges tech leaders are currently facing and how these forward-thinking executives are addressing them.


David Lush – CTO – Mind Gym

David Lush is the CTO at Mind Gym, a business consultancy that uses the latest psychology and behavioural science to transform how people think, feel and behave and so improve the performance of companies and the lives of people who work in them.

With a technical career spanning 16 years, David started as a junior java engineer at PowerTec Systems, a small healthcare business that built HR and rostering software for clients including the NHS. From there he spent 9 years at VISA before moving to ONZO as Head of Engineering. 

David is quite new to his CTO role at Mind Gym, where he’s been tasked with building their entire tech ecosphere, from the team to the tech stack. 

Here are his top challenges.


Breadth of company knowledge  

Being a CTO is being more than just a technologist – it's being the glue between technical teams and the rest of the business. To be effective in this position you need to have a presence across your business.

David’s first few weeks were taken up almost entirely with interviewing people across the organisation, asking consistent questions to get a lay of the land and build internal stakeholder relationships. 

“I asked 4 questions that solicited good feedback from anyone in the business. You can ask them to anyone from chief exec to sysadmin and you’ll get really good feedback.” 

  • What are the most important things we need to do in the next 3, 6 and 12 months?

  • What’s going to get in the way of us doing that?

  • What’s going well? What shouldn’t we change?

  • What are your expectations of me as CTO?

Make Sense of that Feedback

The next challenge was then to make sense of all that feedback. Figuring out which of this should form part of David’s plan and which parts are just noise. 

“The filter is about what’s most important for the business and the team I’m building. They can often be two quite different things.” 


Azad Brepotra, CIO, Mizuno

Azad Brepotra is the CIO of Japanese Sports Brand Mizuno for EMEA. Azad is responsible for strategic leadership, management and direction of Business Transformation and Digital Services (IT) department. Delivering modern, cost effective, high quality-based technology and services through organisational change management initiatives to meet and exceed business goals and objectives.

Here are the key challenges he faces as CIO of Mizuno:


Business Transformation

The speed at which industries are reshaping and having to adopt transformational change with technology has never been greater. The Covid situation has seen the Sports retail landscape change overnight and the demand for quality on-line services explode. 

As we live through uncertain and difficult periods of change, the importance of having an agile business transformation and technology strategy with means to deploy rapidly across an ever mobile workforce to support our current and future business model is critical for the success of our supply chain partners, retail partners and staff.     


Board level communication

As we come to terms with unprecedented social and economic changes, the board are having to quickly revise business strategies and make decisions without the usual tools and qualitative data at hand. To meet these challenges, CIO’s need to be intune with today's operational and commercial realities across their business supply & demand chain, and work with trusted partners / stakeholders to develop and deliver agile solutions that enable business to move forward with confidence.

CIO’s must continue to ensure they invest just as much time improving their commercial skills if they are to maintain / grow the trust from their management board, and to translate and communicate business strategy into effective technical solutions.


Munawar Valiji, (Former) CISO, Sainsburys 

Nowadays you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the TV without seeing something about a data or privacy breach. That’s just the world we live in. The positive? Munawar, and those in similar positions, don’t have to try as hard as they used to to convince leadership why they’re doing what we’re doing. 

Here are the top challenges that Munawar faces as CISO.


Low Risk Appetite

“There is a great divide between people’s perception around security and an organisations ability to protect themselves. That’s where organisations have to get the right leaders in place, get the right culture in place and ensure the risk appetite is right.”

For Munawar, It’s not a case of if you’ll experience a breach, it’s when. With criminals becoming far more sophisticated in their approach, solutions can’t keep up with bypasses. 

“What was being landed as tools and techniques just 2 years ago have been bypassed incredibly quickly. You’re dealing with rapid change mixed with organisations reducing cost.” 


Gaynor Rich, Global Director Cyber Security Strategy & Transformation, Unilever

Gaynor Rich is the Global Director Of Cyber Security Strategy & Transformation at FMCG giant Unilever. Here are her top challenges as the Global Director of Cyber Security Strategy & Transformation at Unilever. 


Pressures on Budget

Right now, people are trying to manage the situation and there is naturally going to be a lot of pressure on budgets due to COVID-19.

“Business leaders have been investing in security for a long time and they’re wondering why it isn’t done yet.” 

The solution? Look at the makeup of your security teams. By having a lot of technical people in that space you’ll have a hard time articulating where the risks are and where you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. 


Recruiting for Cyber Security

One of the major challenges in recruiting is that cybersecurity skills are at a premium at the moment. Most companies see them as technical skills but it’s much broader than that. There’s always a shortage of instant response capability but the real shortage is on well-rounded individuals in the cybersecurity space. 

“We need a much more integrated view of cybersecurity. Currently, we’re sometimes seen as the black box in the corner of the IT department. If done properly we should be so fair ingrained into the DNA of the organisation or tech team that we don’t need a dedicated team and we can look at evolving threats rather than doing day-to-day security activities.” 


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