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Save the Children UK CIO on digital transformation and encouraging girls into STEM

Edward Qualtrough | Nov. 8, 2016
Save the Children's Karl Hoods discusses his role as a governor at three schools, and the current CIO challenges in the charity sector

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Save the Children UK's Karl Hoods describes the charity's digital transformation as its biggest programme of work at the moment, but the CIO believes as a larger non-profit it could have a broader role across the sector helping other organisations.

CIO Hoods also feels a duty to promote digital and technology skills in schools, particularly among girls and young women entering the sector and STEM roles.

Hoods has been overseeing technology at Save the Children UK since December 2013 and sees a link between the challenges of digital transformation at a charity that will soon celebrate its 98th birthday, how it embeds digital skills across the organisation, and his role as a Chair of the Governors at Harris Academy Beckenham in south London and desire to introduce technology to children as early as possible.

Digital transformation

"The digital transformation is a big programme of work," Hoods said. "The first phase is very much about support, how do we attract more people to our digital presence and channels?

"How do we engage with Millennials more, do they want to fill out a form or use cardless, Twitter-based payments?"

Crucially for Hoods, digital transformation means a shift from current ways of working which the CIO is keen to embed across the organisation, establishing an internal digital academy to share knowledge and expertise.

Hoods explained setting up IT apprenticeship programme had proven difficult for Save the Children, with the organisation's commitment to the London Living Wage and government schemes and grants paying below this, although he hopes mixing it up with a graduate-style training scheme and working with a partner like FDM where Save the Children could provide their trainees as an external service where they will also gain experience.

With lots of graduates from Oxford and Cambridge University at Save the Children, Hoods has been able to arrange mentoring schemes with some of the students across the Harris Federation who might previously have been put off or not encouraged to apply to university.

STEM leadership

As well as his role as Chair at Harris Beckenham, Hoods also sits on the team of governors at two local primary schools.
"Part of what I am trying to do is open it up," he said. "It is a male-dominated industry that younger girls look at aged 10-14; but I want to open up their horizons and take it beyond the spreadsheet qualifications."

Appreciating that schools are under a lot of pressure, Hoods said that he was keen to do more with diversity schemes to get young women involved in technology earlier, and see whether it was possible to remove the focus on results and see if there was more schools could do with code clubs, opportunities around STEM areas and generally raising awareness around what the technology sector really is.


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