Job Title : IT director

Organization : John Lewis

Having already taken the top spot in the CIO50 list in 2007, Paul Coby has long been well respected by fellow IT leaders.

Coby is a recent arrival at John Lewis, having joined the company in March after almost 10 years as British Airways CIO.

While at the airline, Coby played a vital role in helping the company survive a global slump in the airline industry, reducing the cost of running BA’s IT operation by 54 per cent and cutting back what would have been one of the largest ERP implementations in Europe.

That’s not to say Coby’s legacy is as a cost-cutter. During his time at BA he oversaw the implementation of self-service kiosks at Terminal 5 and helped build the website into a portal for customers to buy tickets and holidays.

On Coby’s appointment at John Lewis, the firm’s managing director Andy Street described Coby as a “heavyweight in the IT industry” who would “help us realise our ambition to become a leader in technology”.

Before BA, Coby was in the civil service, which he joined in the 1970s, rising to private secretary to the Secretary of State for Transport. His oft-quoted business mantra is, “There are no IT projects, only business projects”.

Coby influences both aviation technology and IT skills training through his position as chairman of the Sita Board and chairman of the e-skills UK CIO board.