10 minutes with… IT Governance Publishing author Chris Wright

This week, we interview Chris Wright, author of the new book Agile Governance and Audit and talk about how technology has changed, and life on Mars…

ITGP: Hi Chris, thanks for joining us today.  Please tell us a bit about Agile Governance and Audit.

CW: Agile Governance and Audit brings together auditors and project teams so they can achieve good compliance on agile projects.  I have a lot of respect for both groups but their cultures are so different that they often forget they are both working towards the same objective – projects that deliver working safe software to benefit their enterprises.  I have tried to provide practical and pragmatic advice, but in an informal easy to read style – rather than being academic or theoretical.

ITGP: An admirable goal! How did you come to write it?

CW: It started when I went to Infosec 2013 – I visited the ITGP stand and when told they had no books on the subject, I rashly asked if they would like me to write one.  They said yes.  ITGP were very encouraging throughout (even when I missed deadlines!) and fantastic in supporting me because as a new author I had a lot to learn.  It was fun and I have now started on new titles.

ITGP: Thanks very much – that’s nice to hear! A lot of people write their first book and then stop because it can end up being more time-consuming than they first think, but you seem to have really enjoyed it.

ITGP: Let’s talk a bit more about you and your experience. How did you get interested in technology?

CW: I became interested in IT when at school – the very early days of IT.  Can you believe we had mechanical, not electronic, calculators?  We saw a film called “Garbage In Garbage Out” – based on what computers could and could not do and their dependence on people not making mistakes with programs.  I watched the film again recently – much has changed but much has not – for example, we still have the same basic security issues for passwords and lack of business involvement in projects.  Nowadays we can make computers make the same mistakes – only bigger and faster with more impact.

ITGP:  After that early introduction to IT, were you bitten by the technology bug right way, or did it take a bit longer?

CW: It really started when I was a trainee accountant at Leicester City Council.  We used a Commodore Pet computer, as now seen in the Science Museum, locked in its own room, with a spreadsheet package called Visicalc.  It had 20 rows by 20 columns and only basic arithmetic functions, but we thought it was wonderful as it saved us a lot of time. I was seconded to IT for 3 months where my duties included testing a new reporting tool to be rolled out. I managed to create a report of 750,000 pages – instead of a two-page summary.  Luckily the operational controls worked and the operators were able to kill the job before it started printing. I’ve since built my career on trying to break systems and stopping others doing the same.

ITGP: What aspects of your work do you particularly enjoy?

CW: The challenge of a new project, meeting new people and using my experience in a small way to benefit clients.  I then like being able to hand the project over and move on.  But what gives me a real buzz is when I can help the careers of those I am working with.  I like running training courses and sharing my experiences – you learn from mistakes but they don’t have to be your own embarrassments!

ITGP: Do you have an outstanding ambition that you would like to share?

CW: I don’t believe in ambition – it’s more important to grab opportunities that arise – I’ve worked all over the world, often on high profile stuff and met some really interesting people.  I wouldn’t have been able to plan that.  One ambition was to fly on Concorde but did not take the opportunity when it arose.  That’s been a great lesson to me – I believe making and following opportunities is more important than ambition.

My only secret ambition would have been to be selected, with my wife, as the couple to fly to Mars. To achieve something that no one else has done and play a part in history.  The long flight would have been a good chance to complete the three novels I have started to write and to meditate and think – with no interruptions and no worries about meeting daily needs.  Then come home to a good cup of tea and share what we had seen.

ITGP: Wow – I can only describe that as ‘out of this world’! Unless you have anything to add, I believe that we’re out of time now unfortunately. Thanks for speaking to us today Chris.

CW: All the best.

You can buy Chris’s book, Agile Governance and Audit – An overview for auditors and Agile teams, from the IT Governance website.