As head of Scottish operations for global technology giant CGI, Lindsay McGranaghan has been presented with some unexpected and unique challenges in recent months – but a proactive leadership approach has inspired the creative solutions that have showcased the firm’s adaptive and altruistic strengths


ONE lesson learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that technology is key in being able to respond and continue to be productive during such a crisis.

Whether it has been to enable people to work or learn remotely, technology has provided a way forward.

For many, the benefits have proved revelatory and global tech company, CGI, is finding that many of its clients have started on a journey they very much want to continue.

Those organisations in the private and public sector that CGI was already working with before the lockdown have been better able to deal with during the crisis and the company’s Vice President Lindsay McGranaghan says the collaboration has been “phenomenal”.

In Scotland, the local authorities that the company works with include Scottish Borders, Glasgow and Edinburgh City Councils. When the lockdown was announced, CGI UK worked quickly to help the office-based staff work remotely.

“That included enabling service desks to be able to answer calls from people at home which was a big transition completed in the space of a few weeks,” said McGranaghan. 

“We also had to dial up the remote access capability because a lot of the users were desktop-based in offices. We had to get laptops out to a number of key staff, including health and social care workers, and make sure they had the right levels of connectivity to be able to carry out their very vital roles.

“We have worked very closely and continue to work very closely with the local authorities to make sure that we are mobilising them to be able to work productively from home but also support emergency and critical systems so they can provide life and limb services throughout the pandemic. 

“That has been a significant piece of work but it shows how crises can bring people together.”

Within CGI itself, the company was ahead of the game, moving one third of the workforce out of their offices around three weeks ahead of the lockdown in order to reduce the risk and be able to provide business continuity if there were a bout of illness. HeraldScotland:

CGI’s STEM From Home initiative, created as a virtual version of the firm’s popular STEM camps, has been a major success

“As a consequence of some of the steps we took early on we have been very fortunate in Scotland and across the UK, as we currently are sitting at zero sickness in relation to Covid,” said McGranaghan.

As a technology company, CGI was well-placed to help staff work from home productively but there are also a number of key workers who are out supporting clients.
Now work has begun on how staff can return to offices as the UK starts to come out of lockdown but McGranaghan said both the company and its clients are keen to keep maximising the benefits of technology. 

It will be important to ensure that we don’t automatically default back to a pre-Covid position given some of the gains that have been made from as technology perspective. 

“As much as the current situation has been incredibly difficult, there are a number of good things that have happened as we have been able to move things forward at a pace that you wouldn’t have seen before,” she said.

“The digital transformation that has happened as result of Covid is something that the councils, CGI itself and other clients want to carry forward rather than go back to where we were in February.What this has presented to everybody is an opportunity around remote working, and the opportunities that might present in terms of offices and facilities.

" lot of our client base have started on a journey they want to continue and this has helped them to focus their minds and accelerate that.”

A major part of CGI UK’s work in Scotland are the Empowered and Inspire Learning solutions in Glasgow and the Scottish Borders. 

Originally seen as a way of improving attainment and bridging the education gap as well as increasing efficiency, the importance of the project has been highlighted by the closure of schools and the need for pupils to learn from home.

In both areas, iPads are being supplied to all pupils from Primary 5 upwards.
McGranaghan says: “It is specifically targeted at equity so every child, no matter their socio-economic background, has access to the same facilities for learning.” 

Making sure every child is getting an equal start has been the main driver but the pandemic has emphasised the importance of the programme.
So far, the feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive”, according to McGranaghan. 

“Initially I think there was a bit of hesitancy as you would expect with change but ultimately as people have started to go on the journey they can see the real benefit of it,” she said.

The councils are now trying to accelerate the delivery of the iPads because, although it looks as if schools will reopen after the summer break, it is likely that there will initially be a blend of learning in class and learning at home so that social distancing measures can be practised. 

Normally the CGI teams would provide onsite training for both teachers and pupils but this is now being done virtually. 

“We have had to be reasonably inventive and to quickly come up with solutions to be able to continue to deliver transformation,” said McGranaghan.

For the pupils, the iPads have been adapted so that when they are switched on the security measures are already in place as well as online training videos. CGI teams are on hand to support the children and teachers if they feel challenged by IT at any time.

Another important part of CGI’s work is its community programme which includes its STEM camps designed to encourage children to think about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

As a result of the lockdown, the physical camps were cancelled but CGI members quickly launched an online version which is available to all and has proved to be extremely popular. 

“It is giving support not only to our staff but parents and schools too,” said McGranaghan. 

 

  • This article was brought to you in partnership with CGI as part of The Herald's STEM campaign