We’ll conquer the mountain – Chris Saunders

April 26, 2017 Our People

It didn’t take long for new ICS Programme Director, Chris Saunders, to pick up on the two key elements of the drive to image processing when he arrived fresh to the company last month. “I didn’t know about iPSL before I came, but the sheer scale of the challenge our people face was quickly apparent,” says the IT and finance project assurance and delivery expert.

“What is equally obvious is that the success of the programme hinges on the quality and innovation of our people here. My role is to provide the leadership to help them change an entire industry.” Chris joined PA Consulting Group as an insurance IT expert ten years ago and has spent the past decade in a series of project delivery and programme assurance roles across the financial sector, including the major banks and regulators.

He comes to us from supporting a major life assurance group with the delivery of two huge projects, after helping a central bank to transform its operational risk. But the iPSL challenge probably tops the lot, he says. “For a start, the minute you engage with more than one organisation in project delivery the pressure rises exponentially for each extra body that you add. Here, we have the banks, subcontractors, the parent company… and the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC) in the middle. Each of the organisations has a different view about the order, pace and priority of our programme activities.

“On top of that, iPSL is trying to achieve something that is far bigger than anything it has ever done before. We have a large number of people here from a large number of organisations, all working hard to deliver in the context of an industry at odds… and with a deadline in our sights.”

But iPSL people have the innate ability to conquer the mountain, says Chris who, just two Mondays in when we talked, was already relishing his role and applauding the teams. “They know we haven’t got the luxury of waiting until we know everything,” he says. “We have to mitigate the fact that there are missing pieces of the jigsaw and trust that our solution will come together as a whole. But these are exciting times too, because what we are doing is truly ground-breaking.”

Orchestrating an instrumental project is fitting for cellist Chris. The chamber ensemble player has just polished off his first gig as part of a cello quartet and when he’s not making, or listening to, music he’s

at the theatre or walking in the Lake District. “I’m trying to do all the 214 Wainwright peaks – just 73 to go,” smiles Chris, who warns colleagues that there’s nothing behind that blank look when they talk to him about sport or cars. “I drive a Ford Mondeo…”

Married to retired teacher Ange, Chris reports that elder daughter Dr Emily is off studying primates in Borneo and Cameroon to work out why humans decided to walk upright on two legs. Youngest Lucy is an actor with her own theatre company. “As you can see, we are not sure we have been great work role models. They’ve watched their parents and gone in completely different directions!”