Chris Spackman’s decades of experience within and advising some of the world’s largest corporations has secured major deals across a range of industries. He has operated at the top level of business as a senior level consultant in an impressive career that included managing a $450m IT outsourcing deal for American Express. Since retiring, Chris has devoted his time to mentoring students and academic staff at the University of Southampton and regenerating the local economy of his market town through service as a Town Councillor.
“I get enormous satisfaction out of being a mentor,” he says. “I like the feeling that the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over all these years is being used. If you’re bright and take on board the advice that good mentors give about commitment, communication and inspiring others, then you can be successful wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to take risks.”
Chris was raised in Swindon, Wiltshire, and was interested in becoming a solicitor until an inspirational Mathematics teacher pointed him towards engineering and industry. “I didn’t know these careers existed and it was only by luck that I ended up in software engineering,” he says. Chris studied Mathematics at the University of Southampton and joined a specialist division at Honeywell Information Systems in a first step on the career ladder, developing systems for the UK power industry. “It was a fantastic group and we had some people there that were at the top of their game,” he says. “People were encouraged to think innovatively and come up with new ideas for solving problems. Apparently, there is equipment produced by this group in the mid-80s which is still running to this day. It’s quite remarkable.”
Chris went on to work at American Express Bank in 1989 and travelled the world helping improve the management of its IT. He helped carry out one of the early outsourcing deals of the IT division and ended up managing it in New York. “I had to learn the hard way – it was a very uncomfortable experience,” he reflects. “We made all the mistakes in the book and had to do a lot of work to turn it around. If you’re faced with an opportunity to make a leap like that though, it’s worth doing. It’s a tremendous learning opportunity, even if it is very hard going.”
After most of a decade with American Express, Chris next expanded his experience as a Senior Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He helped set up a group providing outsourcing advice to a number of industries and oversaw deals such as the Government’s Education Maintenance Allowance. Directing as lead practitioner, he helped build a small team of staff. Seven years later, Chris was approached by Barclays Bank to set up and lead a specialist audit team for the bank’s JVs and outsourcing arrangements. His team helped restructure failing deals and introduced improvements in their management.
He joined Information Services Group (formerly TPI) in 2007, one of the leading companies advising on large deals in the world, and worked on large scale outsourcing transactions as a Management Consultant. His high grade advice directly influenced the top levels of management as he helped tender and secure international deals. “I got to know a lot of senior people at very senior levels in a number of companies around the world,” he says. “It was a very good experience and something I would never swap.”
Chris retired in 2014, opting to focus his efforts on voluntary posts as a trustee of Age Concern North Dorset, a member of the Age UK Services Board and a member of the University of Southampton’s Electronics and Computer Science Alumni Board. Since May 2015, he has been leading economic development and neighbourhood planning for Sturminster Newton Town Council.
“I’m not someone to sit still and do nothing,” he says. “My work as a Councillor is searching for similar outcomes to Future Worlds in many ways. We are looking at incubating small businesses and providing services to help get them off the ground.”
Chris can apply his practical experience from many years working in and for international businesses to help startups establish relationships and sell products to large corporations.
“I can advise on how big companies work, how to approach them and what tactics you can use to set up the best relationships,” he says. “I also have a very good understanding of how to set up an organisation from scratch. I know what management structures you need to put in place and what frameworks for governance you will need to take that business to the next step.” You can get in touch with Chris using the contact form on this page.
Chris says he admires the “entrepreneurial rigour” he regularly witnesses from Southampton’s staff and students. “What makes Future Worlds so important is that it provides a safe environment for people to explore how to take an innovation forward,” he adds. “There’s an opportunity here to experiment with your ideas and learn skills which you can then apply for real.”