A conversation with Lee James – CTO, EMEA at Rackspace
Before becoming Rackspace EMEA CTO, Lee gathered his experience on the user side developing and delivering industry leading cloud, analytics and SAP services for global organisations. This led to an innovation award for building BP’s first multi-cloud platform. Having been in the industry for over 20 years, Lee understands the benefits of working in a multi-cloud environment and enjoys sharing his expertise.
BRW: How did you get into the industry?
When I left university, I contracted at a number of IT companies, I’ve come up through support and worked my way through. I’ve always had an eye for spotting new technologies, new capabilities coming through that enable the business and then looked to take advantage of those and present them back to the business for us to exploit.
The big move I made was into GSK which took me into my first architecture role working across the whole business in all business units, and then moved into virtualisation and cloud technology.
My largest role was at BP to build their complete cloud management platform globally and was asked to run strategy and architecture across the whole of BP.
I made a personal choice after Uni to go into contracting rather than taking a graduate scheme to get the variety which I thrive on. I always wanted to get the variety on different industries and how they work and what they do. I moved down to London with some friends and contracting gave me the chance to move between oil and gas industries, financial services, trading floors, media, banking and utilities so it was fantastic. As you move through each one you build up knowledge and you apply that knowledge everywhere you go
BRW: Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
I come from Hull and I have travelled the world, I’ve been in helicopters in Colombia and on the beach in Rio, and the dock yards in South Korea for example. But my favourite place is where my home is. I love nothing more than going back to my home town where you walk the streets and those streets give you memories. When I go back to a place I’ve been on holiday, it fills me with happiness because I remember the good times I had, but you don’t remember the conversations you had walking down the street, or something silly that happened there, or the way you used to ride a bike, or the smells. In Hull there is Aunt Bessies – if anybody eats Yorkshire puddings, Aunt Bessies are actually made in Hull and so is a large degree of hot chocolate in the UK. When I go back now, different parts of the city will give you different smells, but smelling Yorkshire puddings being made and hot chocolate everything floods back and you remember that’s where you came from.
BRW: What do you like most about your role?
The variety. I meet so many different customers in different industries, I meet so many different people. But what I like the most, is I like helping people. People who are trying to do their job and trying to do it better and trying to improve all the time. Being a part of that is amazing. Today I have worked on a start up in Financial Services, I have then spoken to the leading furniture company, I had a conversation with a sports retailer this morning and then a bank this afternoon, and I’ve done all that in my meetings today. That variety is fantastic.
BRW: What do you hope the audience will learn from this webinar?
I think the audience will learn 2 things. The first being the progression others have already made in this area and the jump into multi cloud and where multi cloud is going. Its not daunting, its being undertaken by many different companies in many different ways, but it’s the help and guidance we need to take them on in that journey.
The second thing is expertise. The voice of the customer in terms of what they are seeing. This is about giving comfort in this webinar, so one will be around don’t be scared, the second is, if you are going to make that jump, there are lots of choices for you so don’t think your hemmed in or you’re making a 5 year choice, you have the opportunity to move and try and test and go for different providers.
BRW: What discussions do you look forward to having with the audience?
Talking about the different industries. We don’t know who signs up for these webinars so firstly I’m really interested in who’s on the webinar, but then the questions could come from anywhere, public sector, not for profit, financial services, retail, telecommunications, so I always look forward to ‘what does this mean to me’ and ‘can you help me understand this’. I think that’s really important.
Join Lee James on 25th January for a webinar entitled Multi cloud: How can your business benefit? at 11AM London/6AM New York.