Marks and Spencer searches for business-savvy IT recruits

Marks and Spencer searches for business-savvy IT recruits

The retail chain is looking to build links between its IT department and its business

Marks and Spencer is restructuring its IT department to embed technology staff in the company’s business units.

The technology function is no longer one entity located at the company’s Stockley Park headquarters, but has individual teams working in different areas such as buying, merchandising, retail and back office.

The firm is also taking on five times as many technology graduates, but with an emphasis on general business skills rather than pure computer science qualifications.

Instead of out-and-out technical people, M&S wants recruits who can talk productively to non-IT staff, IT director Darrell Stein told Computing.

“We want people who are more business-savvy, rather than people who would just start tinkering with code,” he said.

“It is time to focus on business people because technology is becoming more componentised.

“As an employer, you no longer need people to build systems, you need people who know how to apply packages to the company and get the best out of them,” he said.

The new direction is changing the nature of the M&S IT department.

“Now we have one strategy where technology and business colleagues are working on the same agenda,” said Stein.

“So the IT department will evolve into a service function, not a separate entity.”

Increasing the IT graduate intake from two to 10 in the 2008 recruitment drive
is part of the same strategy and is designed to improve succession planning and save money.

“It is better to get good people at the start of their career rather than have to hire more expensive people at middle-management level,” said Stein.