Tiffany Hall

Tiffany Hall joined Cancer Research UK as Chief Information Officer in July 2017 – the first person to hold the role and one of the first technology board positions in the charity sector.

CRUK is the UK’s largest charity, encompassing ground-breaking research and lobbying on government health policies, all supported by fundraising initiatives and over 600 retail outlets.  Tiffany is responsible for setting and delivering the overall CRUK technology strategy to maximise the value that technology can bring to the Charity in support of its aims. Since joining CRUK, she has steered the organisation through its largest ever reconfiguring of their digital and IT teams, triggering wholesale culture change across the organisation.

Prior to joining CRUK, Tiffany worked at the BBC for over 20 years in a range of technology leadership roles across the enterprise IT and broadcast engineering spectrum, including that of CIO. Her earlier career was spent in IT roles with Shell UK. She has been very much engaged in the UK digital skills agenda, in an advisory capacity with the Tech Partnership, as a STEM ambassador, and by working with DCMS on the Tech Talent Charter to help employers tackle the challenges of diversity in UK tech roles.

In January 2019 Tiffany was awarded CIO of the Year at the UK’s Women in IT Awards – the world’s largest technology diversity event.  And in May 2019 she was ranked number 9 in the UK CIO top 100.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I did a degree in Maths with Computing – a long time ago! – and worked briefly editing primary school maths books.  I then joined Shell UK as an IT graduate trainee, starting with coding.  I worked up and through various roles at Shell for seven years before joining the BBC as an IT project manager.  I was 20 years at the BBC and my career there took me into the broadcast engineering part of the technology function, so delivering hardware tech solutions as well as software ones, which was hugely enjoyable, particularly my time working with BBC News.

I joined Cancer Research UK (CRUK) as its Chief Information Officer in July 2017 to bring together two disparate technical teams into a single Technology department with a common culture, and to deliver more value to the organisation more efficiently.  It’s an inspiring and rewarding place to work, full of amazing and impressive people, passionate about our belief that together we will beat cancer.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

There were a couple of deliberate interventions I made to get some specific experience that I realised was missing from my career to date, that would stop me from making the next move.  And before I left the BBC, I had a very deliberate long hard think about next steps Other than that, not really!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Oh yes.  There was one role at the BBC where I was really stretched outside of my comfort zone, and really didn’t do very well which led to some difficult conversations with my boss and with our HR business partner.  We all concluded that I was a square peg in a round hole, and to cut a long story short, I moved instead into a different role.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am very proud of my part in taking the BBC newsroom off video tape onto desktop and server-based video editing.  This seems very straightforward now, but back in the late ‘90s, for full broadcast-quality high definition video, it was ground-breaking and difficult.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Always thinking across organisational boundaries, looking at what is needed from an org-wide perspective, rather than a narrow and parochial one, and creating and using the connections and networks to help make that happen.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think mentoring can be incredibly powerful, and I have informally mentored and supported many colleagues.  I have also been mentored, and the HR team at Cancer Research UK (my employer) are currently seeking a mentor for me.  I’m also currently sponsoring three of our high potential leaders at CRUK, at our “Head of” level in the charity, with a view to their development to become candidates as Directors.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

I would run a targeted programme of training and development for primary school teachers – also open to parents – to show them the huge range of professions and roles that are out there for all children to consider themselves candidates for, and ensure that these teachers (85 per cent female in the UK) are stretching the aspirations of the girls as well as the boys.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Work a ski season!  That is the real answer, however, on a more career-focussed note I would have liked to have worked in an IT role outside the UK at some point.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m new enough in my current role for my next challenge to be right here at CRUK, as the culture-change journey I mentioned earlier is still very much underway and is hard.  In future, I’d really like to become involved again in the UK education sector in some way, which – other than my early publishing work – I’ve only done on a voluntary and fairly occasional basis.