CIO Jury: Techies put computers before Cupid

Three-quarters admit they'd ditch Valentine's dinner for work

Three-quarters of IT bosses say they would put business before romance - and risk having their best suits cut into shreds by cancelling a Valentine's Day dinner if a crisis came up in the office.

Nine of's 12-man CIO Jury IT user panel said "yes" when asked if they would stand-up their partner on Valentine's Day if called on to attend to IT problems at work.

Phil Young, head of IT operations at Amtrak Express Parcels, said: "Yes, although I probably would find my best shirts and suits cut-up lying in a pile on the lawn on my return from work, and the locks changed to my house."

"Absolutely," said Frank Coyle, IT director, John Menzies Distribution. "I've cancelled more important personal things than that. If the business doesn't function then we will not be able to afford a Valentine's Day dinner."

IT suppliers can be the ones to feel the pain when CIOs are forced to be out of the office on 14 February. Manpower CTO Kevin Fitzpatrick, who will be in the US on Valentine's Day to meet BT, joked: "I will be putting BT under extra pressure on service and costs to make up for my personal 'grief'."

Meanwhile Sean Powley, head of IS strategy at the London Borough of Barnet, can look forward to a romantic night at a meeting of the cabinet ICT committee. "Such is our dedication to taking technology forward for the benefit of our residents," he said.

Others weary of the over-commercialisation of Valentine's Day said they would welcome a chance to ditch a pricey romantic dinner.

Nick Masterson-Jones, IT programmes director at Voca, said: "In fact, to get out of an over-priced Hallmark holiday 'celebration', I might be tempted to invent an excuse."

But not everyone is prepared to risk the wrath of their 'other half'. Luke Mellors, IT director, The Dorchester Hotel, said: "Significant others (in my case my wife) are like IT problems – in that there are times when they require more attention, often are hard to figure out, break down now and again, need huge bandwidth in order to communicate and aren't nearly as redundant as you would like them to be."

Meanwhile Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at Hachette Filipacchi UK, simply warned: "Dedication to duty is one thing. The cost of divorce is another entirely."

Today's CIO Jury was...

Paul Allen, head of technology solutions, Squaregain
Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi
Frank Coyle, IT director, John Menzies Distribution
Michael Elliot, IT director, Hasbro
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Victor Kemeny, IT director, William Hill
Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Vans
Nick Masterson-Jones, IT programmes director, Voca
Luke Mellors, IT director, The Dorchester Hotel
Simon Norbury, head of ICT, Westminster City Council
Sean Powley, head of IS strategy, London Borough of Barnet
Phil Young, head of IT operations, Amtrak Express Parcels

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