Ian Alderton, Associate Partner – Technology Strategy & Innovation, FS Advisory at EY, was ready for a new challenge when he was approached by EY to become a contractor
“For me it was a phenomenal opportunity to join EY as part of their technology and innovation practice,” he says.
Ian describes himself as a technologist by trade, and during his career as a Chief Information Officer (CIO) has held leadership roles with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Wachovia Bank and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.
More recently, he moved into consulting and was working with private equity firms to help develop their portfolio companies. “It was really interesting watching these companies go from adolescence to adulthood and working with more of a commercial angle,” he says.
Ian explains that he has always enjoyed working on what he describes as the “knotty, gnarly challenges” organisations face as they go through transformations, whether those relate to geographical growth or technological advancements. It was for this reason working with EY was so appealing to him.
“As an industry CIO you might face one or two of those transformations in your career, but at EY you have many more opportunities to advise, guide, and work with clients through that transformation and turnaround,” he says.
“For me it is just the sheer variety of challenges that is really exciting.”
Part of his role involves helping EY build out their CIO agenda. He explains: “EY is doing some really great stuff around emerging disruptive technology, but they haven’t really shared that with the market.
“The interest for me was helping them shape that journey and establish their technology credentials in the wider marketplace.”
He also assists clients with large-scale technology turnarounds or transformations, bringing in industry expertise and helping the leadership team execute their plan to deliver benefits.
At the same time, he also feels he is developing his own consulting experience, learning the frameworks, toolkits and capabilities of organisations like EY.
He says: “Being able to marry those three things up: my deep technology experience, significant industry expertise and the consulting experience means I am continuing to learn and develop, which for me is really exciting.”
Ian was immediately impressed by the way EY treated its contractors. “Coming in, you are treated no differently as a contractor to a permanent member of staff. You are immediately part of the team. It is a very inclusive, collegiate environment, and people are very supportive,” he says.
He was also struck by how flexible EY was in the way it engaged with him, including setting him up with the tools so that he could work either onsite or remotely.
“They were very open to meeting my needs and aspirations by being flexible around how that was packaged up, in terms of the contract and the number of days of the week I worked,” he says.
One aspect of the experience Ian has particularly enjoyed is connecting with different industry experts within EY, such as the cloud expert or the robotics experts.
“The breadth and depth of expertise within EY is just phenomenal. People are more than willing to help and make that connection. It is a very collaborative environment, which is reflected in the values, beliefs and culture of EY as an organisation,” he says.
He has met contractors who have similar journeys to himself, coming from career finance and banking backgrounds, while others are from sectors as diverse as marketing and law.
Ian advises anyone who wants to make the move into contracting to do their research and make sure they really understand the marketplace, the current challenges and pinch points, and where the opportunities lie.
He suggests contractors should also look at where EY is today and where it wants to go. “As an individual, you should really focus on your key strengths and how you can add value to both EY as an organisation and their clients as well,” he says.
But he adds that in order to thrive, contractors need to have some ‘get up and go’. “You have to be a self-starter; you have to be very driven and very focused,” he says.
“But there are significant opportunities for the right individuals that are passionate and engaged to make a significant and sizeable contribution to both EY and EY’s clients, and also their own ongoing professional development.”