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David Thorpe

David Thorpe overcame a (slightly) wayward youth and the lack of a maths O level to become a local authority accountant and COO of EDS in the EMEA region.  He made his mark in the IT when he headed the implementation of a new computer system for a London Borough.

He eschewed the opportunity to be employee number three at Capita but moved to Honeywell Information Systems working on large-scale implementations in the public sector. This drew him to the attention of EDS, the outsourcing company, and he rose quickly as the public sector in the UK turned to outsourcing its IT.

For the past 20 years he has chaired or directed 20 companies, often in the IT sector.  David’s fascinating career story covers key issues and developments in the industry, including the role of IT and outsourcing in the public sector, the rise of IT’s role in business transformation and the contrasting cultures of industry leaders. 

Sir Bill Thomas

Sir Bill Thomas spent 25 years working in diverse roles in Systems Designers, SD-Scicon and their acquirer, Electronic Data Systems. The British companies merged into and, some would say, transformed the US giant, EDS, and Bill eventually ran the EMEA operation and then oversaw its transition into Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services.  Bill was determined in his youth to study Mathematics and work in Defence, inspired by his father’s service career.  He combined an active passion for sport with doing enough at school to get started on his career plan and had early roles in mathematical modelling and signal processing, first in Marconi and then SD. 

Within EDS, Bill applied his skills to business management and achieved a notable success in a ground-breaking transformation deal with Rolls Royce.  Building on that success he was involved in developing the EDS business model, then managing a large part of the company, becoming the first British member of the Executive Committee.  Since 2009 Bill has pursued a portfolio career as chair and NED in tech and other businesses and charitable bodies.  He was an advisor to the Labour party in opposition on defence procurement and small businesses.  He was knighted in the 2020 New Year Honours list. 

Dr. A. Michael Noll

Dr Noll has been active in the Internet and Computing industries for over 60 years and a theme of this conversation is that there is nothing new under the sun. Michael is an entertaining speaker and a great communicator: I am indebted for his kind and clear explanation that his birthplace of “Nork, New Jersey” is not be linguistically confused with our town of “New-Ark on Trent.”

He started his career with an incisive paper in 1961 about the opportunities and dangers that computers might bring and has seen much of it come to pass. Michael’s career has spanned a huge range of technologies and it is fascinating to see that many big ideas were conceived in the very early days of commercial computing but had to wait to realise their potential. Michael, for his PhD, built a haptic or force-feedback device (and patented the concept) 50 years ago and still has a vision of how more could (and will) be done with the technology. He can cite at lease two false starts to the realisation of what we now know as the Internet, to which he made his own contributions as well as being an acute observer of its potential and use.

Michael is an outstanding scholar, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, an enthusiast for the Arts, including his own role in them, and a world-renowned pioneer of Digital Computer Art.

Liam Maxwell

Liam Maxwell was the UK’s first National Technology Adviser, from April 2016 to August 2018, having been the UK’s first Chief Technology Officer, as part of the Government Digital Service.

He spent seven years in the heart of central government working to get value for money from government’s massive IT investments.  He had contributed to the Conservative Manifesto advocating better services for lower costs in the 2010 general election.  He served in four posts in the Cameron/Clegg coalition then in the Cameron government.

His achievements included breaking the oligopoly of large vendors and insisting on open standards.