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CIO interview: Yiannis Levantis targets at complete quality for Unipart IT

By Brian McKenna, Enterprise Applications Editor Printed: 09 Jun 2022 17: 30 Turning a company’s IT characteristic into an excellent industry in its salvage lawful needs to be the dream of many a CIO. Yiannis Levantis, community CIO at UK logistics company Unipart envisions doing exactly that, drawing on his ride of a prolonged occupation…

CIO interview: Yiannis Levantis targets at complete quality for Unipart IT

Brian McKenna

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Printed: 09 Jun 2022 17: 30

Turning a company’s IT characteristic into an excellent industry in its salvage lawful needs to be the dream of many a CIO. Yiannis Levantis, community CIO at UK logistics company Unipart envisions doing exactly that, drawing on his ride of a prolonged occupation in company IT, which entails periods at Unilever and Rolls-Royce.

Levantis isn’t any longer effortlessly daunted. He grew up in a household in Greece at which industry leaders and politicians sat on the dining desk, among them Antonis Samaras, who was once high minister of the nation from 2012 to 2015, and the leader of the Unique Democracy celebration.

“Was once that of any utilize for me?” he muses. “I deem it was once. Over the years, and especially as a baby, I came all over multimillionaires at dinner, owning football groups, resort chains and newspapers. And I deem that supposed I didn’t beget the mindset that, ‘Oh, issues are too gigantic and too overwhelming. And the scheme in which would I get there? How would I execute that?’. I constantly belief, ‘Properly, except it’s a jog over 100 metres, at which I’d be fully rubbish, if it’s doable, it’s doable by anybody. And, subsequently, by me’.”

Because the CIO of Unipart, whose origins are in the auto alternate, Levantis has led the sequence of the Upward push with SAP cloud-basically basically based enterprise resource planning (ERP) and associated technologies carrier because it seeks to bolster the programs integration facet of its salvage industry. Amazon Web Products and companies (AWS) is the cloud provider it has chosen for the Upward push carrier.

The worldwide logistics, consulting and manufacturing organisation, which has been an SAP buyer for 21 years, announced in March 2022 that it’s adopting Upward push, which is constructed on the vendor’s excessive-velocity, columnar database, Hana, and which puts managed cloud infrastructure and managed products and companies into one contract.

Oxford-basically basically based Unipart emerged from British Leyland in the mid-1970s, specialising in the develop of gear for the automotive alternate. It emerged as a standalone company in 1987, as a logistics products and companies industry, and is now having a glimpse to present a boost to its capability as an SAP programs integrator.

The corporate has a heritage summed up in the phrase the Unipart Scheme, consciously modelled on the Toyota Scheme philosophy of continuing enchancment and recognize for of us, and so inserting a huge emphasis on quality, lean manufacturing, the elimination of raze, and the delight in.

Levantis is attempting to rating to form Unipart’s industry in this recognize, with IT more to the fore than it has been hitherto under the rubric of logistics.

He came to the corporate in March 2021, at present from Britvic, the set he had been IT approach and shipping director. However his two gigantic formative experiences had been at Unilever, which he joined from college in 1999, and at Rolls-Royce, the set he was once global IT director.

“I had a certain ambition to get to the head of the [IT] characteristic. No longer for reasons of ego or shallowness, but because I had seen a form of issues that had been carried out either badly or no longer very successfully, and I could well also watch that they are normally carried out seriously greater”

Yiannis Levantis, Unipart

Levantis has two levels in mechanical engineering from the University of Manchester, and to that added a Masters in monetary management and regulate from Aston Enterprise Faculty.

He says he’s terribly grateful to Unilever for giving him a grounding in industry expertise, starting as a management trainee in present chain IT. “I started getting my bearings, they salvage me in broader roles, to designate the broader industry and the broader expertise. They had been extraordinarily form to me – they salvage me on the desk of a indubitably senior management crew and they handled me as an equal. I didn’t know one thing else about one thing else.

“And pretty early on in my occupation there, no doubt one of my managers on the time acknowledged to me, ‘Let’s execute an exact job now. Would you delight in to switch into an SAP mission?’ And I acknowledged, ‘What’s SAP?’.”

He soon chanced on out – and he says it has given him “a total backbone” to his occupation. “That’s extensive industry, global industry transformation all over multifunctional industry transformation, with SAP at its heart. That’s the total denominator sooner or later of my occupation, up except and along with GSK”.

Levantis was once global IT director for industrial ERP at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for three-and-a-half of years, after which he joined Rolls-Royce, spending lawful over 5 years there, from 2011 to 2016.

Chrysalis 2nd at Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce was once a “pivotal 2nd” for Levantis, for a pair of reasons. “One is, I broke out of my SAP field that had served me extraordinarily successfully up except then. And I had a certain ambition to get to the head of the characteristic. No longer a lot for reasons of ego or shallowness, but because, via the years, I had seen a form of issues that had been carried out either badly or no longer very successfully, and I could well also watch that they are normally carried out a lot, seriously greater – and not utilizing a spectacularly modern technique,” he says.

“It is more about readability, discipline, honesty, stable values, consistency, the fundamentals – and the fundamentals are no longer on the entire there. The IT alternate beset by confusion and suboptimal practices.”

Why does he imagine this to be the case?

“Money. There’s a form of cash to be made in consulting. And we’re no longer talking about an entire bunch of hundreds of pounds. We’re talking an entire bunch of hundreds and hundreds and billions. That’s gigantic money. That shows without extend to people. There are a form of oldsters in gross sales and in management positions in these organisations [consultancies and systems integrators] for whom landing the sale makes difference to their pocket, their households, their younger people. Here’s a indubitably non-public thing – it’s now not an arbitrary or ethereal thing,” says Levantis.

“The assorted motive is IT being represented [in user organisations] by the fellows who spoke Klingon, locked up in a terrible room, knocking away at their keyboards. There came a time, doubtlessly around the unhurried 1990s, early 2000s, when the IT guys acknowledged, ‘We resolve more friends. We can no longer be so lonely. Now we settle on to be more identical outdated’.”

Therefore IT professionals bulked up on their social talents and bought more inquisitive in regards to the industry, “no longer lawful asserting, ‘I don’t care what you execute for a dwelling – lawful describe me what you settle on me to present for you and I’ll produce it”.

Don’t flip your back on tech

Levantis argues that, as IT professionals beget solid aside their headphones and hoodies to be taught more in regards to the industry of the companies and organisations that pay their salaries, some could well need long gone too some distance, and allowed their expertise knowledge to rust to the extent that they are at a disadvantage when negotiating with desirable and advanced suppliers, with their deeply educated technical workers and their lawyers.

“From the very high, the entire technique via the IT organisation, expertise needs to be your ardour, no matter what it is crucial to execute for a dwelling. If it’s no longer, you then’d greater survey one thing else”
Yiannis Levantis, Unipart

“Many beget forgotten or grew to change into a blind see to the extraordinarily crucial settle on to be a expertise educated,” he says. “It’s doubtless you’ll well no longer be educated at the entire lot, but occupy your areas – be educated at one thing and be a qualified about one thing else. It’s doubtless you’ll well no longer lawful rob that expertise doesn’t matter, that this is able to possibly also fair pick care of itself.

“I deem from the very high, the entire technique via the IT organisation, expertise needs to be your ardour, no matter what it is crucial to execute for a dwelling. If it’s no longer, you then’d greater survey one thing else. We ended up with a form of amateurs who had been good at identical outdated management, people management and management behaviours,” he provides.

Levantis says the present expertise scene is too advanced for that generalist technique to be sustainable. “You’ve cloud computing, you beget a form of mobility, and subsequently a proliferation of files advent and the capability to get price out of it. Machine studying is booming,” he says. “It’s doubtless you’ll well no longer be a deep educated on each and each facet, that’s very no longer going. However on the other hand, you execute settle on to beget a vary of proper ride. And it is crucial to withhold this ride, no matter how some distance you progress in your occupation.”

Nonetheless, Levantis counsels IT professionals against then neglecting the non-technical, and no longer lawful in the realm of oldsters talents. “Must you are going to beget a senior role in expertise, you’d greater designate contract law,” he says. “You don’t settle on to beget a stage in it. Sit down along with your lawyer friends. Sit down along with your procurement guys. Realize industrial negotiations that salvage an exact difference.”

Skills technique scars on one’s back

And there could be, says Levantis, no replace for ride. He gives the instance of approach consulting companies. “You survey on the calibre that a McKinsey attracts. They’ve fantastic strategic thinkers that glue properly together into indubitably excellent deem tanks. They’re a blinding organisation,” he says.

“However there is a difference between intellect and training and presentation talents and people talents. However for fair precise execution, you have to well also handiest be good in the occasion you have to well also pick your shirt off and beget a form of scars for your back. There isn’t one of these thing as a polished technique of getting that practitioner ride. There isn’t one of these thing as a pretty technique of getting there. There is handiest the exhausting technique of going via tough initiatives over the years. Taking the effort of the entire mistakes, the errors, the miscommunications, the overspends, the delays, being in the spotlight of that, managing via that, studying via that.”

Levantis says the largest studying point of his occupation has been “making sense of oldsters, bringing them together, because everybody has an attitude, everybody has a technique of thinking, everybody has a background”.

He gives an instance of dealing diplomatically with an Italian manager when at Unilever. “Unilever was once a factual college for me. I was once going via a form of nation implementations for SAP. They once despatched me over to an Italian manufacturing unit that was once jog by a man who was once allegedly no longer so easy to work with,” he says.

“Now, I’m Greek. Now we beget a glass of red wine at lunch, we focus on one thing else but work, after which we come again to it. I had to order, ‘Here is how we’re going to execute this, it’s now not optional. However let’s designate how it impacts you, and let’s salvage the alternate associated and acceptable. You describe me what you wish and what’s precious to you. I’ll describe you what I need, what’s precious for me. Let’s make certain we focal point on getting to an result that’s viable for both of us’.

“Then we could well also perform earlier and trot for one other glass of wine in the evening. However that was once a indubitably special form of technique. The actual person was once a flamboyant Italian and a indubitably good gentleman. He was once easy to motive with, but you had to motive with him in his technique. You had to align to his custom and his technique of thinking and his technique. It’s doubtless you’ll well also no longer technique him delight in a German or a Swiss or a Eastern or a Dutch man.”

Janus role for IT at Unipart

At Unipart, which has sites in Nuneaton and India, as successfully as Oxford, Levantis leads an IT characteristic of around 200 people. It and he beget a dual role, inside and external.

In phrases of the inside IT characteristic, he needs to get it to a jam the set minute or no time, if any, is spent on firefighting. “And so, we can focal point our combined intelligence in constantly being greater. On issues delight in how we salvage greater smarter utilize of cloud capabilities. How we can automate deployment of programs, so in jam of taking three days, it takes three minutes – these are very viable solutions. These are no longer form of dreamy ambitions, they’re very, very viable,” he says.

“The 2nd section is setting up a genuinely excellent IT transformation and implementation associate industry, per what I’ve already chanced on. I’m no longer ranging from scratch,” he provides. “There is a form of goodness in jam already. However indubitably elevate it to a jam the set it’s excellent, when judged in the context of a wider market, and grow that industry. No longer basically explode it, but grow it correctly, so we never lose focal point on high-quality engagement with customers, high-quality buyer ride sooner or later of the implementation of the products and companies, high-quality carrier and result.”

And, on the head of the day, beget glass of red wine for a job successfully carried out.

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