ICS CIO Profile – Colm Gartlan

ICS Fellow Colm Gartlan

IT director, Norbrook Laboratories, Chair of the ICS CIO Advisory Board



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5 July 2019 | 0

This month we take a look at one of the CIOs who volunteers at ICS to helps us find out what’s really going on for IT professionals on the ground.

Gartlan is a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society and is currently Chair of the ICS CIO Advisory Board.

Name: Colm Gartlan, IT Director, Norbrook Laboratories Limited
Bio: Gartlan joined Norbrook in April 2017 as IT Director.
Prior to joining Norbrook. Gartlan was Group CIO at Greencore Group plc.

He held a number of senior IT management positions with Xerox including CIO of European and Developing Markets businesses and IT Director of European Manufacturing and Supply Chain operations.

Gartlan started his career as a management consultant with Andersen Consulting and also worked with Motorola in a variety of IT and business management roles.

Gartlan holds a B. Eng in Electronic Engineering from Dublin City University, a Certificate in Production and Inventory Control from APICs and is a qualified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

“What drives me, what motivates me is leveraging technology effectively to sustain and drive business growth. That can be really satisfying”, began Gartlan.




“I think, collectively – as an IT profession – we need to be much more business orientated in the way we approach our roles and project ourselves within the businesses we support.”

“Some organisations tend to see IT as a cost centre, I don’t believe that is true. And perhaps if you’re at an organisation that thinks like that you’re probably facing an uphill struggle. But it is possible to change that view.”

“The IT profession has a bit of an inferiority complex but we need to help the business to see us as a contributor not a cost overhead’, said Gartlan .

Digital transformation
With digital transformation at the heart of so many business strategies at the moment the time seems ripe for those perceptions to change. IT is now providing the capability to automate business processes that were once a staff overhead and can now provide the infrastructure to enable remote working enabling employers to draw talent from around the country.

“Our IT strategy is focused on establishing digital capabilities within the IT function, leveraging cloud to modernise our IT infrastructure and driving business efficiency through the implementation of an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform,” continued Gartlan.

The value of an ERP system is that it allows the organisation to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and HR.

“The regulatory obligations associated with operating IT in the pharmaceutical sector, and the federated and legacy nature of our business systems environment are our biggest challenges. These can also be seen as an advantage because they force the rest of the C-suite to get involved in the solution and to value the reassurance given by systems that monitor quality and compliancy.”

Professional development
But at the heart of everything Gartlan does is people, which is probably why he understands the need for an organisation like ICS to support his teams’ IT professional development.

“It’s really import to recruit, develop and retain the right staff. We have established a Job Family Framework that guides our ‘grow’ vs ‘buy’ decisions. We use this to create career and professional development opportunities for internal IT staff. It’s based on the eCF – the European eCompetence standard for IT professionals which integrates with the ICS CareerPlus CPD system (a benefit of Norbrook’s Corporate ICS membership) to capture staff CPD.

“Our Job Family Framework is based on six job families: Business Engagement & Analysis, IT Architecture, Solutions Development / Engineering, Project Management, Service Delivery Management and IT Quality. The CPD approach means that staff have a pathway not only for their development within their current job family but they also know the skills and competencies they need to develop if they want move into a different job family.

“I am a big supporter of outsourcing commodity activities. Traditionally IT activities have been entirely in-house in Norbrook. We recently outsourced our service desk and are actively exploring other outsource opportunities but that doesn’t mean outsource everything, I don’t think that works either. In fact, I work closely with local colleges and will be taking on a number of IT apprenticeships in September 2019,” said Gartlan.

Value and impact
Any last advice for those aspiring to be a CIO?

“Look for a CIO role in a company that understands the value and impact that technology can have on business performance and you really can make things happen,” he recommends.

Sounds like good advice to us.

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