Senior Spotlight: October 22
Crimson’s Head of Customer Engagement, Chris O’Brien, interviews senior technologists across the UK. Discover what drives these individuals as we delve into their careers, most exciting projects, and tech predictions for 2022 and beyond. Be inspired by their stories and connect with your IT peers.
David Pacey | Release and Environments Manager at Innocent Drinks
Tell us about your role and the company you work for?
"I work for Innocent Drinks, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, but we operate independently from them. Innocent is the weirdest, wackiest, most exciting, and most rewarding place I've ever worked. Innocent is driven by its purpose to make natural, delicious food and drink that helps people live well and die old. The vision is to make Innocent the earth's favourite little food and drinks company. We say little, but we've got a billion-dollar turnover in US terms.
The office here in London is called Fruit Towers. The base of the building is known as the Chill Out, where you've got picnic tables and open-plan kitchens. We have windows that look into the product kitchens where all the Innocent smoothies and juices are designed and developed. It is such a friendly, warm and collaborative atmosphere.
I joined Innocent in August 2021 last year. I head up release management and environment management, and support change management across Innocent. I’m also building a test practice with a newly created team. So, a broad remit around service transition, working across the delivery mechanisms on a brand-new ERP system.
Innocent decided that they would like to re-platform the entire business, and we went live with that on November 1st last year. We also opened a brand-new factory in Rotterdam, known as the Blender, which is a new venture for innocent. This is our first manufacturing site that can create millions of litres of delicious smoothies and juices every week.
Prior to the big transformation project Innocent used quite a lot of legacy systems; so, it’s been a case of seeing where we can improve things and learning new approaches.
Dynamics 365 is our core ERP system, but we also have several applications to support our supply chain, accounting, and manufacturing engineering systems (MES). For example, Azure and Logic apps help us interface our MES systems at the Blender with our core central office ERP system. We've done over 20 releases. Also, being on the Dynamics D365 platform, we do regular platform updates.
So yeah, fascinating job, interaction with different people right through the supply chain and working with various third parties, such as service integrators and third-party independent service vendors to help deliver the entire ecosystem for our drinks.”
How did you get to where you are today?
“After university, I worked for Ford Motor Company for nearly 13 years. It was the noughties; it was a hedonistic time. But it was the making of me; at Ford, I spent time in different departments. I worked as a Business Analyst, in Marketing, and Securitisation within corporate finance.
I spent time in America, and Germany, and gained lots of experience working with IT people, business leaders, and consumers. It gave me a great understanding of blue-chip companies, and I grew as a person and learnt how to communicate; it gave me confidence. I then moved on to Volkswagen, did a similar job, and then General Motors.
At this point, I'd been in corporate finance with automotive for 16 years. Then, a great opportunity arose to work for Fiserv, (banking software for banks). I was part of an incubator, or a tech start-up called Agility. Banking was deregulated so new entrants could come into the market, like Monzo and Revolut. I set up their release management and change management processes from a very much brownfield base. It was rewarding, but I had a young family, so the balance wasn't there. So, I moved to a small boutique bank in London called Masthaven.
I then moved to Dentsu to head up implementation management and delivery and release management, a massive company with 44,000 employees worldwide. Dentsu was my first real exposure to D365. Dentsu had an enormous implementation of D365 across 18 markets and 5000 users. I travelled across India, working with the offshore team. I also met Mark Dunning, the CTO at Innocent; after he left Dentsu, he told me about the culture at Innocent.
Every move I've made in my career has been because of someone contacting me through LinkedIn, apart from Innocent which I applied for.”
What’s it like working at Innocent?
“Brilliant, unique, and inspiring.
Innocent has a hybrid working model; family and well-being are important to Innocent. Most of my cohort here are between 20 and 40, so that hybrid model really benefits them. There's a team called the culture team they make sure we're all happy and fed. They work tirelessly to ensure we have everything we need, little touches like complimentary breakfast, and coming around with a biscuit trolley. It sounds old-school, but it has a big impact!
Interestingly at Innocent, one of the models they have here is called desk communities. It seems odd that you wouldn't sit with your team, but we mix with people from different parts of the business. It's overhearing those conversations that help you understand the other things that are happening in the organisation. There are no separate offices for the leadership team; we all sit together.
In June this year, we had an offsite meeting in Spain. The whole company travelled there, and we had an evening meal on the Saturday night where they sat us with different people from around the Innocent world.”
What's been the most challenging moment of your career?
“Working in regulated environments. I had an incident in a previous job where a data centre went down, and it caused a painful outage to several banking clients. I learnt so much about myself and my capabilities, resilience, and knowledge during those 72 hours of no sleep. In the most stressful times, you find out more about people and how connected you are as a team. We worked through the problems and kept communications flowing with the customer.
The root cause was a once in a millennium event, so it was a real unknown failure in some core infrastructure. We had the regulator wanting to know what our mitigations were. It felt a jumbo jet had landed on the data centre!”
What's the most interesting project you've worked?
“Working in securitisation and asset-backed finance, back in 2008-2009, around the time of the financial crash; there was a film out a few years ago called The Big Short. Also, what I’m doing at Innocent right now.”
What’s your dream job?
“When I was younger, I bought a set of turntables, a mixer, and some vinyl. My hobby grew into a job. I had a residency at Uni and spent time in Ibiza DJing in the mid 90's. I still stream on different platforms; I've even DJ'd at an Innocent event with nearly 1000 of my colleagues. It helps me zone out and relax; I'd love to do a big gig somewhere.”
What trends do you see impacting IT in the next 3-5 years?
“Yeah, I think IT is continually evolving. Think of Moore's model, where performance and capability double every year. In my industry, manufacturing, implementation of machine learning and AI to make decisions in a more automated way. A lot of our production lines are automated, and they've got powerful systems managing those production lines. These bottles are coming off the production lines, hundreds of bottles every minute in a safe, food-compliant way.
I think the ITL sort of framework which is used extensively across everyone who works in IT works well, and you can pick and choose the part of the framework that you want to use. ITL V4 is very much around the product and customer at the core, and moving away from that service transition, service delivery kind of model.
Sustainability is also a significant trend and central to what Innocent does. For example, the Blender. We are the world's first FMCG manufacturing company with electric trucks delivering our juice ingredients from the ports. The factory is based in Rotterdam because all our fruit comes into there from around the world. We've also got photovoltaic solar arrays and wind turbines at the factory shortly, which will further mean carbon neutrality.”
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