Our friend and colleague Richard Sykes died suddenly at home on Tuesday 24th September 2019. I know that all of his colleagues at Bloor and the Cloud Industry Forum were shocked at the news. Dr. Richard Sykes was a chemist at ICI before he was asked to be their CIO, eventually ending his time there as Global VP of IT. A scientist who applied his considerable intellect to the business of technology, with a clarity of thought and expression, and ideas that were ahead of the curve. You might know him as a judge for the CIO100, the UK Cloud Awards, the Global Legal Hackathon and more. He always promoted the concept of story telling and was a great storyteller himself. As well as his life in business, with his wife he was a great supporter of the arts in many forms. He cast a big shadow, a great presence, and we will all miss him greatly.
When you look around this website you will get a flavour of his considerable contribution to the information technology sector.
A private family funeral is being held, and a memorial service is being planned for Spring 2020.
In my personal practice 'Dr Richard Sykes' I work as a Board-level strategic analyst, assurer & and advisor in the management, exploitation & sourcing of contemporary information & communications technology (ICT). My particular focus is the transformation of business models and enterprise, public sector and vendor operations through the agency of 'the Cloud' – and through exploitation of the new business capabilities consequentially developing, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), Big Data and Machine Learning.
I work with both vendors and customers at Board level to scope and articulate the strategic impact of these developments on their businesses.
I draw on my role as a Strategic Advisor at the independent research house Bloor, with its experienced team of leading expert industry technical and business analysts: my work as Chair of the Cloud Industry Forum, with its extensive vendor community: and in delivering strategic change management and the development of effective sourcing partnerships with Sue Tompkins & Jessica Long, joint Directors of EQ Partnering. My work as a judge for the annual UK Cloud Awards, and CIO 100 Awards, also serves to keep me alert and well briefed on the rapid business innovation being enabled by the Cloud.
I also draw on my experience as a businessman in a variety of roles & responsibilities held in my ICI plc years (1973-1999) including six years as its Global CIO, and my experience since gained in delivering a number of NED (Non-Executive Directorship) appointments over the almost twenty years since leaving ICI. Two specific examples: six years (2002-2008) as Chair of the Trustees of the De La Warr Pavillion rescuing a failing local government run arts institution and re-launching it as a now successful not-for-profit social enterprise: five years (1999-2004) as Chairman of Morgan Chambers plc, a leading European outsourcing consultancy, through a period of major growth and development. [Morgan Chambers has since been acquired by Equaterra Inc, which in turn has been acquired by KPMG.]
Dr Richard Sykes is a businessman with a breadth of involvement & experience that spans the chemical industry, the IT industry - and the world of the visual arts. He has held senior executive roles in a major global multinational [ICI plc] and non-executive chairmanships in a number of smaller ventures. He has lived and operated internationally, including in Japan.
His focus is in coaching the development and practical implementation of business strategies that will deliver quality, sustainable stakeholder returns in today’s very competitive markets. He works at Board level with both the Vendor and the Enterprise aspects of the market place - and is developing a particular expertise in critically guiding the enterprise's transformational journey 'into the Cloud'.
Richard's educational background and initial career development
Richard holds an MA (Natural Sciences Tripos, Cambridge, UK 1967) and a PhD in the field of biosynthetic chemistry (Yale, USA 1972). After two years working with the American consumer advocate Ralph Nader he joined the former international chemical major ICI plc in 1973.
Richard's background and experience in the Business World
During the 1990's Richard was Group Vice President IT & Global CIO at ICI, where he lead a major restructuring of ICI's corporate ICT based on an extensive programme of outsourcing and delegation back into the businesses of ICI. In earlier years he held senior commercial and business leadership roles in ICI's chemicals & plastics businesses, including in Asia, where he lived and worked in Japan as Regional General Manager of ICI's speciality plastic film business 'Melinex' and a board director of ICI Japan, implementing a £55m investment in ICI's first 100% owned manufacturing facility in Japan.
Between 1999 & 2014 Richard was non-executive Chairman of Solcom Ltd, the software engineering, consultancy and project implementation business specialised in control systems & the Oil, Gas, Pharmaceutical and Nuclear sectors. Solcom is the home of the start-up Whzan that offers flexible, open, internet cloud based services for the connection and monitoring of remote and dynamic devices - most particularly in telehealth.
Between 1999 & 2004 Richard was chairman of Morgan Chambers plc, Europe's then leading independent strategic consultancy in ICT service and business process (BPO) sourcing & outsourcing [acquired by Equaterra Inc,, subsequently by KPMG.]
Between 2000 and 2004 he was also non-executive chairman of SiteConfidence Ltd, the UK's leading web-site performance monitoring company, since acquired by the NCC Group. Between 2005 and 2011 Richard was a member of the Advisory Board of Quickstart Global (now Questers Ltd) whose 'In-House Anywhere' offering allows companies to rapidly & economically establish captive operations around the world
More recently Richard served a three year term (2008-2011) as an elected member of the Main Board of Intellect, the UK trade association for the IT, Telecoms and Electronic industries [now TechUK]. He played an active role in the joint Intellect/Cabinet Office initiative 2010/2011 that developed the G-Cloud. Between 2010 and 2014 Richard was Chairman of the TMMi Foundation, dedicated to improving software testing processes and practice.
Today Richard is Chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum and serves on the board of FAST (Federation Against Software Theft). He was until 2016 a Director of Eurocloud UK, now merged with the Cloud Industry Forum. He served a term as the UK Vice-Chairman of EuroCloud Europe, a focus for national EuroClouds.
A Wider Role in the ICT Industry
Richard plays a wider role in the ICT industry as observer, critical commentator - and awards' judge. Between 2008 and 2015 he wrote a regular opinion column (/blog) in IDG's CIO Magazine, and contributes actively to IDG's initiatives for its community of leading UK CIO's. He is a regular judge for the UK Cloud Awards, and for IDG’s CIO100. He now writes a monthly column for Horizon Business Innovation. He was co-author, with Mark Kobayashi-Hilary, of the business book 'Global Services - Moving to a Level Playing Field' (BCS 2007).
He is a regular public speaker at ICT industry events. He takes a critical, informed and sceptical approach to the apparent bounty that the industry professes to offer. His particular emphasis is on the need for the industry to mature from an overly technology-focused youngster into a maturer, high reliability supplier of services that are shaped by & tightly align to end user needs: and on the non-technical roots of business value-add and competitive 'edge' in the industry.
Richard is a former Trustee of the charity HumanITy, which supported work devoted to tackling the issues of the digital divide and social exclusion.
Richard's involvement in the Arts World
Richard and his wife Penny Mason are small scale collectors of contemporary, active in the arts world through membership of ArtAngel. As architectural enthusiasts they worked with architect Niall McLaughlin on a major refurbishment of their home, a Georgian Terrace house dating from 1793 at the Angel, Islington area of London.
Between 2002 and 2008, Richard was Chairman of the De La Warr Pavilion Charitable Trust at the UK south coast resort of Bexhill on Sea. Here he led the development of the premier centre for the visual & performing arts on the UK south east coast, with a £10.0m refurbishment program. Between 2010 & 2016 Richard was Chairman of the Trustees of Cubitt, an artist lead artists' cooperative: He is now a Trustee of the Dartington International Summer School Foundation.