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15 March 2024

Darren Hutton: A career that reflects the company


Technology businesses are presented with opportunity and challenge in equal measure – they are two sides of the same coin. To understand this dynamic, we turn to Darren Hutton, Chief Digital Officer at Hippo. With a diverse portfolio of responsibilities that spans the business, Darren offers valuable perspectives on both the service and human aspects of the company.

In many ways, Darren’s role at Hippo is a reflection of Hippo itself. It would be simple to describe Hippo as an end-to-end digital transformation partner but what differentiates the company is its user-centred approach. Similarly, it would be easy to describe Darren as a multi-disciplinary technologist, but what makes him more is his focus on the human aspect of the role – the people that work for Hippo, the clients and of course, the end users of the products and services that Hippo develops.

To understand their contribution, both Darren and Hippo deserve a wider view.

The role of a Chief Digital Officer

In broad terms, Hippo is a services company. As Chief Digital Officer this means Darren’s responsibilities include understanding and meeting the digital and technology needs of clients. Additionally, the role involves working with Hippo’s valued software partners such as AWS, Microsoft, Splunk, Ping and others. Importantly, Darren’s job also requires bringing those parties together to deliver effective, impactful real-world solutions with the user very much in focus.

However, Darren has a leadership role and in that, his passion for people shines through. As the board sponsor, Darren led on redefining the Hippo core values: Be Human. Be Ambitious. Be Pragmatic. The selection of these terms was carefully curated. Three values that have a direct impact on how Hippos broadly view their work while simultaneously helping the Hippo Herd make day-to-day decisions. They are values that reveal a keen understanding of both the business and the people who make up the business.

New technology, new challenges: Responsible AI

A further prism we can view Hippo and Darren’s similarities through is the recent advances in artificial intelligence. Darren himself is conflicted on the technology. He acknowledges the immense opportunities inherent in AI’s advance, yet is cautious about its application. This is reflected in Hippo’s approach of “Responsible AI” where we support clients in maximising the benefits while ensuring safe implementation, policy and governance – guardrails that promote trust and integrity in organisations of national importance.

One of the reasons that Hippo is such a trusted partner to public sector and central government organisations is because so many Hippos have joined from that world. Darren is an example of that. With past experience in roles such as systems engineer and technical architect – Darren worked on significant products and services across the NHS landscape, particularly around blood and organ donation. Darren and Hippo excel at delivering for the public sector because they understand the public sector.

Darren presents as a confident, assured communicator – if you speak to his colleagues, you learn about his ability to change meetings by cutting through the complex with an easy to understand narrative. That front facing aspect of his role is not something that has always sat well with him however, noting, like many others in leadership roles, that imposter syndrome has been an occasional part of his working life. Darren is pragmatic about the impact this has had on his personal growth emphasising that often leaving his comfort zone has helped him grow into the position he now enjoys.

Hippo is a reflection of its people and its people are a reflection of Hippo. That idea is exemplified in Darren. His story, experience and growth within the company explain why Hippo has a secure future.