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Johnson Matthey CIO Paul Coby says IT needs to stand up to sustainability commitments

Johnson Matthey CIO Paul Coby said his IT function needs to stand up to the 200-year-old company’s sustainability goals, in particular contributing significantly to its reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

Speaking at the CIO Town Hall Live, a gathering of technology executives by NS Tech and sister title CBR, Coby said that over 85 per cent of the FTSE 100 company’s products had a “measurable, positive impact on the planet – directly linked to UN Sustainable Development Goals” and that its mission was to use its science to make the world a cleaner and healthier place.

Dating back to 1817, the company started out as a gold assayer measuring the impurities in metals, was commissioned to manufacture the kilogram reference standard in 1874, and now manufactures auto and industrial catalysts, and provides the key ingredients behind some relief drugs and cancer treatments.

[Johnson Matthey CIO Paul Coby interview at CIO Town Hall Live]

“Johnson Matthey is all about sustainability, and we have to stand up to that as the IT function,” Coby said.

The former British Airways and John Lewis Partnership CIO, who joined Johnson Matthey in April 2018, described the company’s annual CO2 reduction targets as “the energy consumption of 374 million smartphones”.

“It’s a non-trivial amount of CO2 savings, and we’ve committed to that,” Coby said, explaining that 45 per cent of that target would be reached by the deployment of new IT infrastructure, including consolidating on three co-located data centres in the US, the UK and Singapore. Another 30 per cent would come from that reducing travel across the organisation, enabled by technology collaboration tools, while updating the legacy desktop estate would also help.

“Taking out the legacy tech consuming relatively large amounts of amount of energy is something everybody now understands in the IT industry,” he said.

“Our legacy desktop estate is a big energy consumer; putting in energy optimisation software is key. Sustainability is something we track, and something that as part of a sustainable organisation we are expected to be able to stand up for.”

Coby also discussed the wider digital transformation and innovation agenda taking place at Johnson Matthey, as well as his thoughts on the CIO role and experience of responding to crises in his 20 years as a CIO.

[Full video interview with Johnson Matthey CIO Paul Coby from the CIO Town Hall Live]