Two-thirds of IT bosses admit they’ll be interrupting the turkey dinner, mince pies and festivities on Christmas day to check their BlackBerry for email messages and keep tabs on the company’s IT operations.

Eight of’s 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel said even Christmas day will not provide complete respite from work.

For some it is a case of using the time when the office is empty to carry out IT maintenance and upgrades. Les Boggia, head of IT at Carole Nash Insurance, said the Christmas holidays provide a four-day window to do a major upgrade to the company’s core quote and administration system.

He said: “In a business where we operate six days a week, this is the only opportunity we have to do this other than closing the business.”

Christmas day working also depends on whether people will be using the organisation’s IT systems then. John Hemingway, CIO at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We are a multi-cultural institution and have a number of students who wish to access our learning environment on Xmas day. We typically average around 500 logins that day.”

For some the temptation to use their BlackBerry to send the odd sneaky email is just too much to resist.

Luke Mellors, IT director at The Dorchester Hotel in London, said: “I admit I am a CrackBerry Addict. I tell all my staff personal time is personal time but never follow my own rules.

“Perhaps it is an excuse to make a quick getaway from my mother-in-law or maybe I suffer from Christmas fear that our IT systems will also enjoy too much festive spirit.”

Rob Neil, head of ICT at Ashford Borough Council, said: “It will give me a break from the festivities and pretending to enjoy seeing the various family members who only pop out of the woodwork on 25 December.”

But others dismissed the idea of checking emails in between the mince pies and mulled wine. Nick Masterson-Jones, IT programmes director at Voca, said: “No, I won’t be – unless I want to see my BlackBerry crackling away on the fire along with the Yule log, this is one day when I won’t be provoking my wife.”

Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, said: “Not likely. One of the great things about my local government career, unlike my previous one in banking, is that, although we operate throughout the holiday period, I have never yet found it necessary to work myself. Just as well, really, as staff might find it hard getting any sense out of me.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Stuart Aitken, CIO, Medical Research Council
Paul Allen, CTO, Square Gain
Ian Auger, IT director, ITN
Les Boggia, head of IT, Carole Nash Insurance
James Findlay, head of ICT, Maritime and Coastguard Agency
John Hemingway, CIO, Sheffield Hallam University
Nick Masterson-Jones, IT programmes director, Voca
Luke Mellors, IT director, The Dorchester Hotel
Rob Neil, head of ICT, Ashford Borough Council
Peter Pedersen, CTO, Blue Square
Duncan Scott, CIO, Sea Containers
Richard Steel, head of ICT, London Borough of Newham

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at