CIO50

CIO 50 2008: Neil Cameron

CIO 50

Job Title : Unilever

Organization : Global CIO

At Unilever Neil Cameron is responsible for a 4,000-strong global IT department responsible for 85,000 desktops and an annual IT budget of around €800m. A key priority during his time there has been the 'One Unilever' programme to streamline and simplify the organisation, with Cameron declaring "complexity is the enemy".

Cost cutting remains a key focus for Cameron, who has set aggressive efficiency targets for his department over the next year. Some of this will be achieved through outsourcing and Unilever recently signed a $675m services deal with HP for the next seven years - something Cameron says will provide "world class technology at substantially lower costs".

Cameron was brought in as Unilever's first ever dedicated CIO in 2003 from drinks giant Diageo and was one of the company's most senior external appointments for years.

Cameron had harboured more artistic ambitions but as a self-confessed art college dropout he opted instead to start on the IT career ladder at RHM Management Services in 1973.

Following a series of management roles at Dixons, AerLingus and IBM, Cameron joined Marks & Spencer in 1987 and rose up the ladder to become CIO for the retailer's US business where he led a major change programme, replacing all their core systems.

In 1999 Cameron became global IS director at Guinness and was appointed CIO for Diageo the following year.

Externally Cameron is also a member of the board of IT industry skills body e-Skills UK, the Research Board and he has recently joined HP's global advisory board.

Cameron plays golf and swims and is also a keen woodworker with his own state-of-the-art workshop equipped with all the power tools known to man - tools, he jokes, that he does intend to one day actually use.

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