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Juan Villamil to step down as DWP’s chief technology officer

The Department for Work and Pensions’ chief technology officer is to step down this week in order to take on a new role at Imperial College London, NS Tech can reveal.

Juan Villamil joined DWP in May 2015 and has been instrumental in bringing the department’s outsourced technology expertise back in-house, as part of a Whitehall-wide push to break up major legacy contracts.

A former chief technology officer (CTO) of BT Sport, Villamil is due to become Imperial’s chief information officer (CIO), bucking the trend for government technology leaders to enter the private sector.

When Villamil joined DWP in 2015, the department’s technology stack was still managed entirely by outsourcing companies, as it had been for more than 20 years. “This gave us a number of challenges,” he told Computer Weekly last year. “We had black box infrastructure that didn’t perform very well, there was a lot of legacy IT and we had availability and performance issues.”

In a bid to bring technology expertise back in-house and start managing its own IT for the first time in two decades, DWP brought in 400 staff from Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2017.

As part of the initiative, Villamil also launched a so-called Innovation Dojo, a term used in martial arts to describe a space used by students to practice. Speaking at the Government ICT conference in London Villamil said the intention was to provide an environment in which developers and engineers could create new digital services without fear of failure.

In a comment shared via email with NS Tech, Villamil said: “I have been in DWP for almost five years now and I hugely enjoyed my time there. It has been a great privilege working with a wonderful team and an organisation that has an amazing social purpose. I am really proud of everything we have achieved here and I know we have built a strong foundation for providing world class services to our citizens.

“I’ve always admired Imperial for its academic excellence, technological innovations and ability to collaborate with both the private and public sectors to improve science and society.

“Imperial is a deeply complex organisation engaged in a rich array of challenges. I look forward to playing my part in the next stages of Imperial’s growth. As an Imperial alumnus, I am especially thrilled by the opportunity to lead the ICT function of this exceptional organisation of innovative and talented professionals.”