We sat down with our Chief Operating Officer, Sam Chivers, to talk about one of the major projects the company has been working on recently and how this will benefit our members. We also talked about how his role has developed since transitioning from Head of IT to Chief Operating Officer in February.
Hi Sam, we hear your team has been busy recently! What are the main projects you have been working on?
Whenever we plan large projects, we feel it’s crucial to focus on how our resources can be used most effectively for the benefit of our members. We’re in the fortunate position that we get valuable feedback from our members via a variety of methods including surveys, research forums and our fantastic Member Services team, all of which help us to decide what to work on next.
Our members have expressed a wish to be able to view their plan details safely and securely online so we’ve been hard at work putting everything in place to make that happen. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was no small task with 191 years of data to work with, however we have taken a phased approach to the project and are delighted to announce that our Stocks and Shares ISA members are now able to log-in via our website.
It’s great to know that this has been launched! How will it benefit our members?
I think one of the principal benefits to our members is convenience. Once logged in, our members will be able to view their plan balance, make additional payments into it, and confirm the contact details we hold on record for them at any time, day or night via their computer, tablet or phone.
This is just the beginning though, we’ll be bringing our other products to it shortly, so as to enable all our members to interact with us however and whenever suits them best. I’m incredibly proud of everyone from the IT, Marketing and Member Services teams that have worked so hard to deliver this new capability to our members.
Good news! We know your background is in I.T., how did you get into it originally?
I was interested in computers from a very young age, my grandad was an accomplished engineer and I think I inherited his love of precision and logic, both of which lend themselves well to programming in particular. I studied IT at GCSE and A Level, and maintained a hobbyist interest throughout University, where I gained an MA in Philosophy.
Following on from University, I went to work for Rockstar Games on the Grand Theft Auto game series, which as a video games fan was an unbelievable experience and allowed me to combine my interest in programming with the problem solving and critical thinking skills gained from my degree.
I started working for Shepherds Friendly in 2010, and have held a variety of roles since then with responsibility for data, infrastructure and system architecture.
That takes us nicely on to your new role as Chief Operating Officer – how do you feel your role has changed now?
As Chief Operating Officer, my role comprises of working with each department to ensure we are as efficient and effective as possible in day-to-day operations to meet the needs of our members, whilst also making progress towards the company’s long-term strategic objectives. I think the most noticeable change has come from the challenge of taking the processes that worked well for the IT team, and adapting them to fit projects and initiatives that span multiple departments.
As technology of all shapes and sizes becomes ever more embedded into our lives, I help develop a roadmap for our Executive and Board to ensure we will continue to be able to deliver the service our members want from us in an efficient and cost-effective manner, wherever developments in technology take us next.
Away from the office, if you get time, what do you enjoy doing?
As an archetypal early adopter, I’m usually playing with the latest gadget, or annoying my wife by trying to automate everything in our house. I’m also a big sports fan, particularly Football, American Football and F1.