by CIO UK staff

How UK CIOs recruit top tech talent

Jul 29, 2019
IT LeadershipIT Strategy

Credit: IDG CTO Thierry Bedos

“There’s lots of evidence that teams that are more balanced and more diverse in nature perform much better.” CTO of, Thierry Bedos, told CIO UK. “They bring better innovation to the customers out there.” is working with schools in the UK and abroad to raise awareness of science and technology careers among girls, using apprenticeship schemes to develop talent from other sectors, and attending conferences such as Women of Silicon Roundabout to find new recruits.

“There will be a shortfall of talent in the next few years,” says Bedos. “And we are tapping into only half of the population when there is another half that’s all women that are great and have lots of talent. And so, the question is, how can we bring more women to this industry.”

Global Director of Technology & Operations David Henderson

Global Director of Technology & Operations David Henderson

Image by David Henderson

Writing exclusively for CIO UK in May this year, Director of Technology and Operations at Global, David Henderson, noted that “one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry is a talent shortage, coupled with a lack of diversity.”

Henderson believes that although the industry is aware of current recruitment challenges, not enough is being done to address it. This led him to set up the ‘Global Academy’ in West London where students can develop a number of vocational skills.

“My belief is that CIOs and CTOs who put technology at the core of the business, choose the right tools for the job and build a long-term talent pipeline are the ones who’ll build better teams with better results and help close the perception gap in IT,” says Henderson.

Bloomberg CTO Shawn Edwards

Bloomberg CTO Shawn Edwards

Image by © Bloomberg

Bloomberg conducts an intense recruiting effort on university campuses and collaborates with taps into their talent pipelines by collaborating with academia to supplement the work done by permanent staff.

The company also offers a fellowship programme that funds PhD research by students who then intern at Bloomberg offices for a summer and may receive a job offer if they can prove their value.

“Bloomberg is not a place for everybody,” admits CTO Shawn Edwards. “We have to be careful in who we hire. It’s very important to have people come to visit us and do the interviews here. We show them how we work.”

Read next: Bloomberg CTO Shawn Edwards explains how data science is guiding the finance industry

ANS Group CTO Andy Barrow

ANS Group CTO Andy Barrow

ANS Group CTO Andy Barrow discussed the skills shortage in tech with CIO UK at the 2018 CIO UK Summit.

“The biggest challenges for CIOs in 2019: keeping and retaining talent is always a main one for any CIO,” Barrow told CIO UK. “I think that when tech gets faster and faster, the talent pool that you have access to is smaller and smaller, because there’s not as many people aware of that tech.”

Barrow pointed to the ways that the 2018 CIO Summit had offered potential solutions to the problem: “I think that’s always been an issue but it’s even more of an issue now, so I think that finding new ways to grow talent, whether that be through apprentice schemes, graduate schemes or incubator startups that we heard about today, to actually get access to talent and new ways of thinking is an interesting one for many organisations.”

Read next: ANS CTO Andy Barrow video interview – Data and skills are the biggest challenges for CIOs in 2019

JLL’s EMEA CIO Chris Zissis

JLL's EMEA CIO Chris Zissis

JLL’s EMEA CIO Chris Zissis noted the challenges of attracting and retaining technology talent in a buoyant market, however he attributed this to being a growing business rather than a skills shortage or crisis.

“We have been a growing business, and continue to be a growing business,” Zissis said. “You will always have a shortfall of skills, because we have business leaders who are very hungry to support their clients and their people.

“I wouldn’t be able to say we had a skills shortage in a particular area; we’re constantly looking for good people, all the time.”

Zissis said that the company’s “geographically agnostic” approach allowed them to hire talent from across the globe.

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Trainline CTO Mark Holt spoke to CIO UK aboutthe search for talent predominantly in terms of gender diversity.

“Tackling gender imbalance and championing talent within the technology industry is at the absolute core of our culture and values,” he said.

“An increase in female programmers, developers and engineers will have profound benefits to the UK’s tech economy, its businesses and its customers.”

He has made it his mission to improve this, through initiatives such as a partnership with the Code First: Girls social enterprise to help teach 20,000 girls to code by 2020.

Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts

Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts

The 2017 CIO 100 member told CIO UK that his department had also seen significant growth and been reorganised so technology could help scale the business.

“We’ve doubled in size over the last few years, but also within that period we’ve tripled the size of the IT team as well,” Roberts said. “We went through a reorganisation of the group to make way for innovation.”

These requirements prompted the company to make some important decisions.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to scale the team as we wanted to purely from Crewe alone which is why we opened our technology centre in the middle of Manchester,” Roberts said.

“That was a key strategic initiative for us; Manchester over the last five years has gone through dramatic changes. I think the start of that probably came with Media City.”

Charles Taylor CIO Jason Sahota

Charles Taylor CIO Jason Sahota

Charles Taylor CIO Jason Sahota told CIO UK that it’s imperative to find the right skills in the workforce.

“I’ve been a firm believer in my career that one of the best ways to do that is to grow talent,” says Sahota.

“And now I’ve taken the business to a certain size over the last two and a half years, this year was the first year that we’ve reached a particular size where I want to start bringing in new talent and building and training up that talent moving forward.”

To do this, Charles Taylor InsureTech has launched a three-year graduate programme that offers successful applicants the opportunity to work across a variety of disciplines to develop their skills, with support, mentoring, and training available at every stage

“We’ve pretty much had a 100% acceptance rate on the offers that we’ve sent out, which also gives me confidence that as a new startup business – although we fall within the Charles Taylor family – after two and a half years, we’re now seen as a business that is able to attract new talent that’s coming through,” said Sahota.

Post Office CIO Rob Houghton

Post Office CIO Rob Houghton

Post Office CIO Rob Houghton casts a wide net to catch the top talent from a pool of graduates, apprentices, return-to-workers and military veterans.

“We’re hiring ex-forces personnel into our IT and change team and will be signing the Armed Forces Covenant later this year,” he says. “It’s such a good relationship because the Post Office has been serving our communities for over 300 years and we should be helping the Armed Forces for all the work they do.

“I’m quite proud of the work that we’re doing. We’ve got an ex- forces and reservist network that I sponsor and we’ve hired some really interesting people. We’ve just hired a bomb disposal expert – he’ll be good in a crisis.”

Read next: Post Office CIO Rob Houghton fuses digital and physical customer needs

Tata Steel Europe IT Director Nick Reeks

Tata Steel Europe IT Director Nick Reeks

Tata Steel Europe IT Director Nick Reeks has been recruiting graduates to enhance this company’s tech skills.

“We have opted to increase graduate numbers to improve our pipeline and grow our skills,” he says. “The cloud capabilities are all fine, but when you get to the brass tacks of actually coding, the pool of skills is just too small.

“It has struck me as odd that a number of the larger partners and vendors we work with have been talking to us about their shift to digital and how they have ‘re-shaped their team profile’, but when you stand back, it seems operational or traditional IT skills have been let go and more consulting and advisory skills on-boarded.

“When you then come to shift from concept to production, you’re faced with the “oh, we don’t have those skills” dilemma. Tata Steel outsourced two years ago, but like all companies who go through this process, we will always look at the profile of tasks and skills we need to maintain cost and delivery targets.”

Read next: Tata Steel Europe IT Director Nick Reeks Q&A

Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal

Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal

Image by iStock

Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal draws on the local startup ecosystem to recruit new staff.

“We’re doing a big insourcing drive to build digital capability in London and Manchester through partnerships with local startups to develop young talent with leading digital skills,” he says.

“We’re working with startups who basically are incubators for digital talent. They get digital youth in either from high school or apprentices, and they’ll train them up in the basics, and then we look to offer them employment, and then training in-house with Vodafone.”

Read next: Vodafone Head of IT Delivery on digitising the customer experience

Good Energy CTO David Ivell

Good Energy CTO David Ivell

Good Energy CTO David Ivell attracts talent who may not want to move to the company’s headquarters in Chippenham, Wiltshire by introducing a flexible working culture and collaboration tools including Workplace by Facebook and Office 365.

“We’re putting in the technology to do that, but it’s more about getting the right culture to make that successful,” says Ivell. “

So we’re working really at how we recruit, making sure people understand that that is an option, and that we measure people by their output and quality of the work they do, not the amount of time that they sit at their desk.”

Read next: Good Energy CTO David Ivell plans to create a cleaner, greener future

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey

Image by iStock

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey has introduced a face-to-face cyber security competition that tests the skills untapped British IT talents, with the top performers winning an interview for a role on the bank’s security team.

“Some of our big success stories are people who did mathematics, who hadn’t considered technology and coding before, but actually, as mathematicians, they’re data scientists and they’re analysts,” says Elsey.

“Those types of individuals fit in really well with that kind of inquisitive mindset…Where we have done very well in the bank in trying to attract good, diverse employee base is by trying to look in those pockets of people that wouldn’t normally think about it, but when they’re in it, they love it”.

Read next: Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey sets cyber security challenge

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley is involved in a number of initiatives that aim to encourage diverse talents to consider careers in IT.

She runs an event called CIO+1 where attendees are bring a “plus-one” from a group that is underrepresented in the tech sector, works with schools and STEM initiatives to inspire children and women to work in technology, and invites a diverse range of speakers to give career talks at City.

“I think it was Melinda Gates who described the talent pipeline as being a very long and leaky pipeline in tech,” says Priestley. “I’ve taken that and thought about how can we plug these leaks.”

Read next: City University Director of IT Claire Priestley describes how data can create personalised student experiences

Hovis IS Director Dominic Howson

Hovis IS Director Dominic Howson

Image by © Hovis

Hovis IS Director Dominic Howson has launched a cloud HR employee information hub that the bakery uses to recruit staff through its own website.

The software has boosted the company’s employer brand to the outside world and cut the cost of external recruitment.

“We’ve halved our external recruitment costs where we’ve been doing recruitment marketing straight out the system,” says Howson.

Read next: Hovis IS Director Dominic Howson explains power of apps in the cloud

GoCompare CTO Jackson Hull

GoCompare CTO Jackson Hull

Image by © GoCompare

GoCompare has launched a technology degree apprenticeship with Aston University to cultivate young talent. The price comparison company has further boosted its pull by sponsoring community initiative that allows fintechs to stream consumer financial transaction directly to GoCompare’s API.

“It’s our expression of wanting to take our rightful place back at the table in terms of fintech innovation that was kind of lost in that period between startup and now, and we want to get back to for a number of reasons,” explains CTO Jackson Hull.

“One, it’s key to our strategy. Two, it’s a fun place to work when you’re known as an innovator. And three, we can continue to attract really world-class talent.”

Read next: GoCompare CTO Jackson Hull on business transformation for innovation