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An improvised path to CEO

An improvised path to CEO

A former CIO talks about his current job, and in the way he considers the path his career has taken to get there

Adrian Bagg is one of a rare breed, a CIO who has moved along the top table to become a chief executive. Full of passion about his work he is, however, quick to point out that his becoming the CEO was the happy outcome of an unplanned career full of business management as well as IT.

His passion, and the fact that he is willing to take a risk shows in the way he talks about his current job, and in the way he considers the path his career has taken to get there. "Nothing in my career has been planned, and I don't belong to that group who think that all CIOs should want to be CEOs," he says. "I am just excited by successful customer outcomes that occur when commercial projects are completed and delivered. I am not your perfect example of someone who moved from IT to business management."

His current role, which he has been in for more than a year, is CEO of the Papworth Trust. Every year the trust supports more than 10,000 people gaining equality, choice and independence by helping them with housing, employment, rehabilitation, progression and advice. As Bagg puts it, "We give them their life back."

When he saw the job advertised he was working on a global function as vice president, process excellence at AP Moller-Maersk, and he was waiting for a plane at Copenhagen airport. "I was a global traveller, but was waiting for a plane when I saw the Papworth Trust job advertised in a newspaper," he says. "I thought it was such an exciting sounding job I ripped the advert out of the paper, and that was 17 months ago. I have had a ball, although it has been really challenging. The Papworth Trust was 90 years old and had sort of run out of steam. It needed to look at what was next."

Bagg's career path has been filled with chance and opportunities. Having mucked up his final year of school, he says he decided to work at college and got a first class business studies degree from Thames Polytechnic in the UK, with honors in finance and accounting. As part of the four-year sandwich course he spent his year in industry with ICL, working in finance. With his degree complete he joined ICL's graduate scheme in a sales support role in the telecommunications and retail sector, moving on to become a salesman in the retail sector, dealing with customers like Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer which were all in the midst of the E-POS revolution.

He says he had nice cars and more money on his mind when he moved to sales, but he got bored of it quite quickly. "As a salesman you listen to customers and what they need, and then you either can or can't meet those needs."

Following ICL he moved to Honeywell Bull, at first working in marketing for the retail sector, but then taking on the whole of the program director role for large customer developments and implementations. "The program director left, and I was completely in charge. They just said 'how about doing it', it wasn't planned at all," says Bagg. At this point -- the end of the 1980s -- the retail sector was moving into a recession, and although he had been enjoying the role and had already learnt a lot, his customers ran out of money.

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