Interview with Lisa Perkins

Lisa Perkins vividly remember the difficulties for BT as it transitioned to high speed broadband in the early 2000s. “The technology was moving from 2mbps to 128 mbps and demand was sky high,” she says. “We couldn’t roll it out fast enough.

The experience was one of many challenges during her 27 years at BT.  Despite a technical background, Lisa realised her strengths lay less in IT than in “managing, organising and delivery — making things happen and applying technologies such as Voice over IP.”

Some posts were “quite painful”, such as ensuring NHS contracts were met. “I had to review plans that other people were responsible for, which required lots of diplomacy and negotiation. But it was a good learning role.”

In 2012, Lisa became CIO Director at BT Group where she gained her first experience of overseeing IT transformation in internal functions such as legal, fleet, supply chain and comms. At BT she ran a schools inspiration programme to catch young people early, especially girls, that introduced six-year-olds to technologies such as eco-friendly beach robots, to clean and restore seashores.

Two years later she moved to Openreach. But it was becoming Director of Adastral Park and Research Realisation that really inspired her. She says this role offers “huge potential to influence the next generation of technology, solve the world’s problems, and foster the talent needed to deliver it.”

Lisa’s proudest achievement is creating the £9m DigiTech Centre, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk. “It’s a thriving ecosystem driven by partnerships that will help create home grown businesses.”  

The variety of roles in IT is huge, Lisa says. “There is a myth and a stigma that you have to be stuck in front of a computer coding, but I’ve never done that.” Experiencing bias against women has simply intensified her drive.

Lisa Perkins was interviewed by Jane Bird for Archives of IT and her full interview should be available next month.



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