Emphasis on safe and ethical use of ICT and preparing public sector workers for digital change to be themes of presidency
Nicola Graham, head of ICT at Aberdeenshire Council, has been confirmed as the new president of public sector ICT representative body Socitm.
She takes over from Geoff Connell, head of ICT and information management at Norfolk County Council, who has held the post for the past two years.
In her acceptance speech at the President’s Conference in Glasgow, Graham said that she wanted to work with Socitm members and partners to explore how the public sector can develop the use of new technologies in a safe and ethical way that will be of benefit to everyone.
She said: “As we all know from the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal and other widely publicised issues, there is clearly a balance between the benefits of embracing technology and using things such as machine learning and data analytics, and the ethical and privacy risks they pose.
“I believe the public sector needs to start a discussion now on the use of new technologies around AI, data analytics and machine learning, to consider the ethics and ensure public trust.
Preparing for revolution
Graham also stressed the importance of preparing public sector workers for the changes the digital revolution will bring.
“Our responsibility in the public sector is to prepare for these changes, improve our digital capabilities internally and grow our workforce competencies,” she said. “We need to prepare our workforce so that the whole of society can leverage the benefits that new technologies bring.”
Graham has worked in ICT for the past 25 years having graduated from Napier University. Her career spans retail, finance, outsourcing and the public sector.
She joined Aberdeenshire Council as head of ICT in 2011, with a remit to bring about change to the service. She has led it through a transformation programme, implementing new technology, strengthening the skills of the team and the digital skills of the workforce.
Her Socitm involvements prior to becoming president include chairing the Scotland Socitm region, and immediately before becoming president she was one of the society’s three vice presidents.
Socitm also elected a new vice president at the conference: Sam Smith, head of strategy and architecture for shared service provider LGSS, joins the existing vice presidents Sandra Taylor, head of ICT services at Dudley Council, and Chris Riley, ICT manager at Lancaster City Council.