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Barclays European CIO wants to be the Google of banks

Mark Chillingworth | July 19, 2012
"When people think of music, they think Apple, when they think search they think Google."

"Lets be honest, call centre work is a pretty tough job, so by using technology to help our people and our customers we win on lots of fronts," he says. Barclays has a global footprint of call centres. While Watson believes the location of call centre is critical, its less important for a mature organisation if they are outsourced or not, it is the technology that supports the call centre worker and therefore the customer, if that's not done right lets everything down.

Watson deployed SatMap, for his previous employer Wells Fargo, where he was Senior Vice President & Global Head of Technology Services for the Bank.

At Barclays Watson reports to the COO of Europe at Barclays, Matt Chung. Watson has twelve direct reports, each of the European countries has a CIO reporting in to him, while Watson also has within his department a COO, CFO, a Chief Digital Officer, a Chief Architect, a head of projects & programmes as well as head of strategy and planning. Watson sits on the European Operating Committee for Barclays and is also an advisor to the boards of several companies outside of Barclays.

Watson has spent the bulk of his career in the banking sector and sees no reason for that to change, but quips "For me its important that I have impact, I want to change things for the better -- for customers, employees and shareholders -- I'll work in whatever industry allows me to do that. I need to feel I make a difference on a daily basis and add demonstrable value where I work". There are observers that constantly question why so few CIOs have become CEOs of organisations. It's not a debate this title cares much for, but Watson is one of the few CIOs I felt compelled to ask whether he believes CIOs could become CEOs and in particular in the banking sector. Unsurprisingly, he believes they can and reminds me that once Bob Diamond had an IT career. With a tech focused COO and banks rivalling the IT industry for pushing the boundaries of technology potential, he just might be right and he may well be the one that makes the grade.

Bankers and banking employees have long held a reputation for being hollow chested and dull. They sit up there with accountants and actuaries for greyness. Anthony Watson is a passionate and animated character and tells a very different story of life at Barclays bank.

Watson is openly gay and was recently voted in the Guardian newspaper 56th most influential gay person in the world alongside Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium and Lord Browne the former CEO of BP. Diversity is important to Watson.


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