Caffeine Conversations with Russell Gilbert - CTO @ Coal LSL - James MacDonald
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Caffeine Conversations with Russell Gilbert – CTO @ Coal LSL

Caffeine Conversations with Russell Gilbert – CTO @ Coal LSL

I’ve worked a number of technology and digital recruitment projects over the past few years, from short-term contract roles to c-level executives. They all have elements that make them interesting but from time-to-time, you work a project that you’re genuinely thrilled to work. Right now, I’m working one of them!The project I’m speaking of is recruiting a team to enable to Digital Transformation Program at Coal LSL.

Digital Transformation Programs don’t come about every day, especially in Newcastle, and I wanted to share some more information on what’s happening and why I’m so keen on these opportunities. For a better insight, I sat down with fellow caffeine connoisseur, Russell Gilbert, Coal LSL’s CTO. Interview below.

James: Can you provide an overview of the technology journey to date? I remember talking to you when you were purchasing your laptop to kick things off. 

Russell: The journey for Coal LSL has been a true representation of how public cloud services can be leveraged to launch a business’s technology infrastructure from start-up environment into a highly mature operating environment within a very short time period.

We started insourcing the Coal LSL technology environment on 3 January 2017, from literally one laptop to successfully moving to a stand-alone operating environment by 29 May 2017. The use of progressive vendors such as CMD Solutions and public cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft were the significant factors which made this possible.

Our approach to technology at Coal LSL has provided a strong foundation for us to execute on our strategic objectives. This has led to the evolution of its digital transformation strategy and program of works.

That brings us to today, given the significant achievements of the past 12 months you must be excited for what’s ahead?

The theme for 2017 was transitioning, planning and establishing the future for the Coal LSL technology and digital strategies. Our focus for 2018 is executing on these strategies and putting words into action.

I am personally excited by what 2018 holds to deliver on unique opportunities and a progressive approach to technology, which has received a warm welcome and strong endorsement from the Board and Executive team.

You mentioned the technology and digital strategies. From a technology perspective, this is one of the biggest and most exciting programs I’ve seen around Newcastle in some time. Can you provide an overview of the technologies you envisage using, how you see the evolution of the technology stack?

Our technology environment is largely based on AWS and Microsoft cloud platforms and services with an aim to leverage ‘on tap’ services (where possible) that provide us the ability to quickly ramp up (and down), test, fail and continue with, depending on where we see value. This approach allows us to execute in a manner which is closely aligned to Agile and ‘fail fast’ methodologies and reduce delivery risk.

I personally promote and encourage my team to operate in a manner that constantly challenges the status quo and to be open to adopting new ideas, approaches and leverage the diverse range of services available through our preferred cloud providers.

At Coal LSL, we remain committed to improving our technology capability by investing in solutions which improve service delivery and experience. We will focus on the introduction of enhanced digital services that integrate seamlessly and elevate the service and experience we provide our clients and stakeholders.

It all sounds very progressive and obviously doesn’t happen without a solid team. Being a recruiter I have obvious interests in people and how they facilitate these projects. From a culture perspective, what should people expect working with the technology team at Coal LSL?

Technology continues to be a developing and enabling capability for us. We are looking for candidates that are passionate, self-starters who are energised by the opportunity to push the boundaries of traditional approaches (or completely reinvent them!).

Ultimately, we are looking to not only build a strong technical team but a team that understands how technology is best aligned to tangible business outcomes and can deliver in a manner that supports collaboration, continuous improvement and regular delivery.

Thanks for your time Russell. 

If the sounds of Coal LSL sounds like an environment you’d like to work feel free to check out the four opportunities currently being recruited.

Thanks for taking the time for reading our interview, I look forward to providing insights into other companies in the near future.