Industry Interviews

29 posts

Posted July 04, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – Brian Carmichael at TIGERS

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

Part IV of our Tackling the Skills Gap series, we’re talking to TIGERS apprenticeship manager, Brian Carmichael, to find out how they are approaching the issues of the skills gap within the industry. Brian discusses TIGER’s Modern Apprenticeships and plans for the future, the response and engagement levels from businesses, how the technology industry has changed and what he thinks the industry can do to help tackle the skills gap.

BIO: Established in 2001, TIGERS provide training and employment brokering, they are specialists in the training and preparation of young people aged 16-24 for entry into a range of sectors including Business Administration and the Mechanics industries. At the moment, TIGERS run and deliver a variety of Employability and Industry Specific Training Programmes and Modern Apprenticeships funded by Skills Development Scotland in areas presently including Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire.

TIGERS logo


Hi Brian, we know that TIGERS have two Digital Marketing Modern Apprenticeships running at the moment which is brilliant! Can you tell us a bit about these, please? 

“TIGERS currently have 2 Digital Marketing Modern Apprentices, one working for Training Initiatives – our Employability and Modern Apprenticeship delivery; and the other TIGERS STA – our joint venture with FTSE 200 construction business Carillion Plc. We felt both businesses required the support of a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice to showcase the success of our business and also increase user reach to open up our opportunities to more young people – who better to do this than the young people themselves! Both Modern Apprentices, Caitlin and Kirsten are doing fantastic, they have been operating in dual Administrative/Digital role, having team members who are flexible is vital in today’s working environments and this has already led to them becoming key members of their respective teams. Caitlin (24 years old) and Kirsten (19 years old) bring a cocktail of youth, energy and fresh ideas to our marketing meetings all which have lead to many new digital activities and social media platforms being introduced over the last 6 months.”

What was the response like from companies within the industry when you were trying to place the apprenticeships? 

“TIGERS made a commitment to employ at least 2 Modern Apprentices, however, when contacting external businesses about Modern Apprenticeship opportunities it proved very difficult. Very few of those contacted wanted to discuss the Apprenticeship pathway in regards to their recruitment and I found that their reasoning usually surrounded the fact the apprentices would need a large element of on the job training – crazy in my opinion, through this method you can ensure the employee adopts your values, ways of working and good practices.”

How do you think the technology industry has changed in more recent years? 

“There is a real skills shortage in regards to digital skills at the moment and all industries need an influx of new entrants to keep up with the public/commercial demand of communication through these digital platforms. However in my recent experience of promoting Digital Marketing Modern Apprenticeships I found that businesses were reluctant to adopt the recruitment pathway of employing a Modern Apprentice – again having worked in a business who has engaged with over 1500 Modern Apprentices over the last 10 years I find this hard to believe, the opportunity to shape and prepare an employee for exact needs of your business, what’s not to like! The industry has a lot of employees who are self-taught, and in no way am I dismissing their skills and knowledge however to meet the needs of the current skills shortage I believe we must look at new entrants from as early as schools leavers. When I did an autopsy of my recruitment drive for Digital Marketing Modern Apprentices I came to the conclusion that it was often the idea of young people being given the responsibility of operating social media accounts (who knows social media better than young people?) or alternatively the idea of staff taking the time to train the Modern Apprentices on the job. Unfortunately, this short-sighted approach to workforce development is detrimental to producing a future workforce equipped with the digital skills necessary to meet needs of the consumer.”

Do you have any plans to introduce more courses within digital?

“TIGERS will be operating a Business and Digital Marketing Pre-Apprenticeship programme in July. The delivery model is designed to equip learners with the administrative and digital skills needed to enter a workplace and undertake a role as Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice making a positive impact on business outcomes from the outset. The programme includes 10-week employability, administrative and digital skills training at our training centre covering learning outcomes such as Certificate of Work Readiness, PC Passport, image/video editing, using analytics to analyse and report data and an introduction to coding. On successful completion of this training plan, each learner is then matched with a suitable work experience provider to gain valuable on the job experience. This is where the employers come in, there are at this point no commitments to employing the learner, however, TIGERS are looking to engage with employers that if the right learner enters their business and shows all the attributes they are looking for over a 6-8 week period would offer sustainable job opportunities.”

What advice would you give to the industry when trying to remedy the issue of the skills gap?

“I think the businesses need to embrace the current skills & training options available to them… Be brave and inspirational… brave enough to employ a young person as a Modern Apprentice and inspirational in terms of providing them with a working environment that will help them to grow, both as a person and in their role as a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice – through nurturing the young person, allow them to embrace your company values and provide them with key digital skills needed to promote for your business.”

 

 

Missed earlier posts in this series? Find them here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted June 27, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Guest Blog] Tackling the Skills Gap – City of Glasgow College

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In part III of this series, we’re bringing you a great guest blog from Douglas Morrison, the STEM and Innovation Project Lead at City of Glasgow College (COCG). Douglas discusses the challenges faced by COGC surrounding the STEM skills gap, what they are doing to tackle this, the opportunities STEM presents to the industry and how COGC are supporting their students and working with industry to ensure their students graduate with the skills that are in demand.

BIO: Douglas is an experienced educator with a history of working in the further and higher education sector. His areas of interest include gender equality issues, STEM, innovation, digital disruption, educational policy and technology enhanced learning. He is currently the STEM and Innovation Project Lead at City of Glasgow College having previously acted as the College’s Industry Academy Head for STEM.Douglas holds a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and ePortfolio and is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) candidate researching gender, habitus and games based learning at the University of Strathclyde. He is a Fellow of Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (FIKE) and co-founder of Adaptive Design Glasgow, a charitable organisation designing and manufacturing assistive aids for disabled children and victims of humanitarian disasters using cardboard.

 

COGC logo


City of Glasgow College is a pioneering Super College based in an award-winning twin site super-campus in the centre of Glasgow. With over 30,000 students and 1300 staff, the College is committed to “Letting Learning Flourish” through a culture of inspiration, excellence and innovation. The College’s Industry Academy Model ensures the curriculum portfolio is responsive to labour market growth in key economic sectors through the adoption of innovative products and services. By making a clear commitment to the development of students and staff through impactful collaboration with industrial partners, the STEM Industry Academy has supported thousands of graduates into employment or on to higher levels of study.

The College was awarded STEM Assured status in August 2015 in recognition of the economic value and social benefit its STEM activity brings to students and industrial partners. Its STEM Manifesto makes a number of commitments towards the development of inclusive and sustainable growth within the STEM vocational, technical and professional career pathways.

One of the most significant challenges facing colleges in Scotland is the need to remain responsive to a rate of industrial change, wrought by technological advancements, that has never before been experienced. In addition to ensuring the curriculum offer remains fit-for-purpose and aligned to modern industrial practices, we must also consider the skills and attributes our graduates need to succeed in the workplace.  The College’s Industry Academy Model ensures that regular communication is maintained with our employer stakeholders who are encouraged to both co-design and co-deliver our curriculum. With this approach, the City of Glasgow College is not only responsive to anticipated change but also acts as a strategic change agent within the Greater Glasgow region as well as further afield.

The technical skills gap within the STEM sector is widening as growth within Scotland’s key economic sectors demands work ready, technically capable and digitally literate graduates with high STEM capacities. I do not believe that there is a simple solution to addressing the skills gap but I do believe that the development of an accessible and inclusive multi-stakeholder career pathway is vital. The work done by organisations such as Primary Engineer and the Engineering Development Trust inspires young people to explore STEM careers. EQUATE Scotland champion equality of access and opportunity for aspiring women STEM professionals and skills and funding agencies are transforming policies and incentivising employers to widen their recruitment talent pool.  At City of Glasgow College, we recognise the value such partners bring to our students and stakeholders and have reaped the benefits that partnership working brings to our STEM offer.

I believe that the college sector as a whole is well placed to support employers to develop their workforce to meet future demands. The long-established modern apprenticeship (MA) framework and the philosophy of “earn and learn” supports employers and educators to collaboratively develop apprentices who are fully immersed in company values and systems of work whilst successfully achieving globally recognised qualifications.  The extension of the apprenticeship framework to Foundation Apprenticeships aimed at senior phase school pupils interested in following a vocational pathway as well as Graduate Level Apprenticeships will likely facilitate a more balanced and sustainable flow of talent into the STEM sector. The College’s apprenticeship provision cuts across a variety of STEM occupations and with such a diverse number of apprenticeship pathways available, there is a clear route to industry available for everyone.

As the College’s Industry Academy Model continues to evolve we stand on the cusp of what many analysts have referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. The increased adoption of computerisation, automation and robotics as well better collation and utilisation of data is transforming the way our industry operates and has profound implications for our developing workforce. Our graduates are expected to have multiple careers in multiple sectors, some of which have not yet been identified or are in the early stages of developments.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum found that employers are becoming less focused on occupational specific skillsets and are instead seeking wider transferable skills such as the ability to solve complex problems, interpret data, manage projects effectively and work as part of a diverse and flexible team.  This expectation has a profound impact on the way in which we deliver our educational programmes as an increased focus on active and blended learning methodologies are applied within the context of project and problem-based learning. Indeed, the College’s City Learning Model is structured to guide our students through a personalised and contextualised learning experience that is focused on personal development and STEM capacity building.

Our students have expectations of anytime, anywhere learning on flexible learning programmes that will deliver them into an employment opportunity. To achieve this, we need employers to continue to work with us to identify established, emerging and projected skills gaps, discuss recruitment processes, shape our curriculum offer and support us to design world class learning spaces that exceed industry standards. We need our awarding bodies and accrediting agencies to remain responsive to projected labour market changes and to offer a greater degree of flexibility in curriculum delivery to allow for multidisciplinary working on live projects.

The City of Glasgow College is committed to the creation of a collaborative ecosystem of STEM stakeholders determined to realise the potential of Scotland’s developing workforce. I believe that our Industry Academy Model is an effective vehicle for impactful change that will offer our developing workforce positive career development opportunities. As the College continues to redefine the technical and professional educational experience in Scotland it has never been a better time to pursue a career in STEM.

 

Missed the any in this series? You can find them all here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted June 20, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – City of Glasgow College

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In part II of this series, we’re chatting to Steven Murray, Head of Academies for the Faculty of Business, to understand how City of Glasgow College is tackling the skills gap. We find out about the Faculty of Business Industry Academics, their Modern Apprenticeships and what Steven thinks the industry can do to support academia.

BIO: Steven Murray is Head of the Academies for the Faculty of Business which are working to support employer-based projects promoting learning by development and employability training through the embedding of work-related skills. Steven is a Scottish Government Consultant for the Scottish Equality and Diversity strategy (eHealth Directorate), a published academic and key note speaker on Legal Training and Education at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, the International Institute Amsterdam and is a permanent member of the Legal Education and Development Scotland (‘LEADS’) group.

 

COGC logo - [Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap - City of Glasgow College


Hi Steven! Can you tell us a bit about Faculty of Business Industry Academies within City of Glasgow College, please?

“Working directly with local and both national and international Industry partners, City of Glasgow Industry Academies provide a broad, industry relevant focused curriculum to maximise student attainment and employability.  Created upon a cross-curricular structure, Industry Academies provide high-quality education and training delivering essential sector relevant skills and values and behaviours to ensure that graduates are work ready for their chosen area of employment or progression to Higher Education.  Benefiting from their integral links with Industry, Service and Commerce, Industry Academies are responsive to the needs of all sectors.”

What do you hope the impact to be on the industry?

“We are placing skilled, work-ready graduates and undergraduates into full time and paid internships across a wide range of sectors. Our City of Glasgow people are delivering an enthusiastic and flexible talent pipeline that will fuel existing and emerging sectors with a diverse and currency of aptitudes and cross transferable skills.  We are working towards providing the skills base for the future of Glasgow and the nation.”

Could you tell us about the Modern Apprenticeships CoGC run?

“City of Glasgow College offer a number of Modern Apprenticeships to learners aged 16+ which is an opportunity to gain qualifications in a number of business areas whilst actively engaged in paid employment. Modern Apprentices gain skills and qualifications without having to study full-time. Modern Apprenticeship frameworks are designed by employers for employers. A trainee will be given the opportunity to develop essential skills and knowledge in that area and this will ensure the essential combination of theory and practical application of skills is both right for them and for their parent organisation. Through their Training Plan, the trainee and the college are committed to the trainee’s progression and continuing professional development.  Many business sectors have identified a need for Modern Apprenticeships due to an ageing workforce and difficulty in recruiting and attracting new entrants. In addition, employers are often unaware of the career opportunities available within their own areas of industry and many, such as careers within the supply chain is often seen as the “invisible industry”. The skills gained through completion of a Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship will help address these skills shortages.

In addition as an added incentive, the parent organisation and the trainee will each receive a bonus payment of £100 on completion of the framework. A link to our current Modern Apprenticeships is here.

We would encourage anyone who can to attend the next Scotland Policy Conferences Keynote Seminar: Next Steps for Apprenticeships and Skills Development in Scotland, which will take place on the morning of Wednesday, 6th December 2017 in Central Edinburgh.”

What do you think about the lack of skills within the STEM landscape?

“City of Glasgow College and its STEM Academy is addressing and meeting local and national priorities to promote and enrich the current national lack of engagement, enjoyment and promotion of STEM subjects and STEM Curriculums.  Our STEM Academy is actively engaging with external partners to further the collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and industry to address the current lack of awareness and understanding of STEM subjects within business, commerce and everyday life. Vocational pathways have been created culminating in new progression and career opportunities for learners and in doing so seek to increase the attainment, performance and success which is currently lacking in these areas and to deliver those skill sets into industry both locally and nationally.  The STEM Academy is filling the current skills gap to allow successful transitions into a vibrant sector through the use of Apprenticeships which will effectively benefit from the involvement of industry in education and training.  City of Glasgow College is increasing awareness within students and teaching staff to diminish the lack of awareness of possible progression and career opportunities within the STEM subjects and in doing so increase the confidence within those undertaking those subjects improving possible attainment.”

What would you say industry can do to help academia?

“Working directly with us here at City of Glasgow College industry sectors can have a meaningful and creative input into the design and delivery of our world class curriculum. Students and staff benefit from engaging with industry-led projects that see learners undertake challenges that reflect real time scenarios and factual circumstances whilst embedding the core skills and understanding necessary for those learners to progress into their chosen vocational areas.  Sectors can have a direct influence into the learning and teaching delivered to their future employees today.”

What future plans do you have for your department?

“The Faculty will be supporting the new College initiatives across a number of performance areas to further enhance the world-class learning and teaching delivered to our learners, to work together and further enhance industry and sector links and to deliver further enhanced professional learning and training cooperatively with international partners.  This will also provide enhanced opportunities for staff to engage with and benefit from our industry projects and international presence across numerous business areas.”

 

Missed the first in this series? Take a look at it here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted May 23, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – UWS’s Graduate Level Apprenticeships

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the next month, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In the first of our interview series, we’re talking to Professor Ian Allison, Dean of School of Engineering and Computing at the University of the West of Scotland. We’re finding out about the recent introduction of Graduate Level Apprenticeships; BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland as a response to the increasing demand for skills…

UWS         SDS


 

Hi, Professor Allison! Can you tell us a bit about the Graduate Level Apprenticeships and how they came about please? 

“UWS, and specifically the School of Engineering & Computing, is delighted to be working with Skills Development Scotland, industry and our college partners to create new ways for employees to gain the skills and qualifications they, and their employers, need.

Graduate Level Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to change the way employers and individuals access degree-level education. By combining degree-level qualifications with real-time practical experience of the world of work, we are delivering industry-relevant skills and qualifications.

3 out of 4 employers in Scotland report critical skill shortages that are affecting their productivity and growth. These skill shortages are impacting on key industry sectors – including IT and engineering – and the wider Scottish economy. Further, more than 70% of Scottish employers think that job applicants lack technical, practical or job specific skills.

Based on this evidence of industry need we will launch our first 2 GLA programmes– BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture – in September.

GLAs offer a new pathway which combines academic knowledge with work-based skills development to enable apprentices to quickly become effective and productive in the work place. They have been developed in partnership with industry to ensure that the learning is relevant for the world of work and that apprentices can put their learning into practice right away.”

What do you see the impact of these apprenticeships being across the industry?

“GLAs provide a new route into degree-level study for school leavers who want to go straight into work, for young people completing a Foundation or Modern Apprenticeship, and for existing employees (of any age) who have work experience but not a University degree.

For individuals, GLAs provide an opportunity to access the same learning opportunities as those who follow the traditional route of direct entry into University, whilst gaining practical work experience and, because they are in paid employment, without incurring debt. Our delivery model will also facilitate accreditation to industry standards, such as the Engineering Council Competence & Commitment Standards for Incorporated Engineers, which will support their future professional development.

For employers, they can customise their employee’s learning to ensure the best fit with their business needs and because the apprentices spend the majority of their time in the workplace, they are contributing to the productivity of the business at a much earlier point in time. The end result is “industry ready” graduates who understand their business. Offering Graduate Level Apprenticeships is also an excellent way for employers to maximise their return from the Apprenticeship Levy.

In addition to industry input to the development of both of our GLA programmes, we have also worked closely with our 3 college partners – Ayrshire College, Glasgow Clyde College and New College Lanarkshire. This tripartite model is unique to GLAs in Scotland and will help to create a seamless pathway from school through Modern Apprenticeships and further education to degree-level qualifications.”

How has the industry responded to the announcement of the GLA’s? 

“UWS has a long tradition of industrial partnership. This collaborative approach has underpinned the development of our unique GLA delivery model. Because the GLA programmes have been developed in partnership with industry, employers recognise the relevance of the skills that the apprentices will develop and welcome the ability to tailor their apprentice’s learning to meet the specific needs of their business.

Our industry awareness events and 1:1 meetings with prospective employers have been encouraging and we have a number of employers who have already committed to the programme, some anticipating recruiting more than one apprentice.

We anticipate that demand for the programme will increase year on year as more people become aware of the GLA programme and the benefits to both industry and individuals.”

What other programmes have you got planned within the University?

“We will launch our first 2 GLA programmes in September – BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture. Skills Development Scotland will shortly announce a second round of bidding for GLAs for 2018/19 and we will consider which of these frameworks to bid for based on evidence of industry demand and our own subject expertise.”

What can the industry do to help academia?

“We would like to hear direct from any employer who is interested in exploring how their business can benefit from the GLA programme. We would also welcome the opportunity to talk to industry stakeholders who would like to work with us to promote the GLA programmes to a wider industry audience.

Our GLA team can be contacted directly at apprenticeships@uws.ac.uk

Further information can also be found at www.uws.ac.uk/apprenticeships

 


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook  to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted April 25, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Recruitment Industry, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] Tapping Into our Electronics Market

We’re talking to Ashleigh Collins, one of our newer recruitment consultants who is responsible for the electronics market, to find out a bit more about her, what the market is like out there and what advice she can give to both candidates and clients. Let’s find out what she has to say…

Hi, Ashleigh! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hello! I’m a Recruitment Consultant working within the electronics department at Enigma. Ashleigh Recruiter
I love cooking, holidays, writing and pub quizzes. My greatest love is my dog, Basil. He is just the cutest little guy! When I’m not working, I love chilling out with my husband and taking Basil on walks and pub crawls.

So, we already know you are a Recruitment Consultant working within the electronics market here at Enigma, can you tell us a bit more about what that actually means? 

“Of course! I work with both electronics clients and candidates – looking to place the right people into the right roles. I predominantly specialise in software and firmware vacancies. Essentially, I’m helping to fill the gaps in software and firmware teams of our clients. My day-to-day usually involves keeping in touch with both my clients and candidates, among other tasks. Communication is central to what I do so it’s really important to make sure you keep everyone up to date as things progress. The role itself can be quite varied role but it keeps me on my toes – which is good!”

What is the electronics market like at the moment, for both candidates and clients?

“The market is very candidate-driven right now; there are a wealth of roles with fewer candidates to fill them. For candidates, I’d say that this is the time to find the role they really want – something that suits them. Looking at the client side of the market; it’s a time of innovation, lots of new technology is flooding the market and with this comes a whole load of new opportunities. Our clients are seeking big talent to help them drive forward in the industry; and as innovation is increasing, some niche job specifications are asking for skills and experience working with the most cutting-edge technologies. This does prove tricky sometimes because of the skills gap the industry is experiencing. In saying that though, that’s what makes my job interesting; trying to find the perfect person for the role. ”

What advice would you give to candidates?

“I think it’s essential for all candidates to be open-minded when looking for a new role. We’re here to find the perfect role for you and that’s what we’re trying to do – the more we can learn about you, your job preferences and experience then the easier it will be for us to find you what you want. I’d also say that candidates should really be committed to the process in order to find the absolute best roles that they can. Don’t be complacent, if you start to become complacent then, all in all, it makes it much more difficult for you in the long run. Communication does work both ways and keeping in touch and up-to-date with us is part of the process of finding a new role. One thing I say to all of my candidates is ‘be proud and don’t be afraid to boast about the projects you have worked on and completed.'”

What advice would you give to the technology companies out there looking to hire new talent?

“It’s not enough to just offer the job anymore. In the current market, candidates are often sitting with three or four job offers so the whole process is very time sensitive. You have to move quickly and make an effort to impress the candidates. As I’ve said before, it’s a two-way process; equally, clients have to impress their candidates as much as candidates have to impress the client. Again, I would stress the importance of communication. The quicker we can receive feedback, discuss offers and feedback to our candidates – the quicker our client’s problems will be solved. At the end of the day, we constantly strive to make placements which both our candidates and clients are totally happy with and that, is our main goal.”

Can you tell us about some of your top vacancies right now?

Principal C# Software Engineer – This contract role comes from one of the industry’s leading companies. My client is an optical giant and is working on groundbreaking technologies specifically for medical devices. They’re looking for someone who is talented and driven to be part of their team of innovators and inventors that produce products that will both change, and save, lives.

Embedded Software Engineer – I’m looking for ambitious software engineers to join my client’s expanding team. My client, based in Ringwood, is working on Wireless Well Systems, something which will involve the full software life cycle, including creating high level and detailed designs, developing firmware components, and subsequent integration activities. This is a great opportunity for a talented individual to take the next step in their career.

Senior Software Engineer – This is another contract role which comes from one of the industry’s leading companies. My client is an optical giant and is working on groundbreaking technologies specifically for medical devices. During this role, you will apply sound programming principles and Agile practices to specify, design, develop and test new software features of a system as part of a multi-disciplinary software team. You will also be responsible for maintaining existing software through bug fixes and major enhancements. This is a rare opportunity to join a well-established, highly successful and rapidly growing company.”

 


Think you could be right for one of these roles or want to discuss how we can help you source the best candidates for your business? You can get in touch with Ashleigh directly via email ashleigh@enigmapeople.com or give her a call on 0141 332 4422.

Take a look at all of our electronics vacancies here.


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Posted March 21, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Software, Technology Industry | No Comments »

From a Graduate’s Perspective: Junior Test Analyst

This week, we chat to Finlay Harris, an MEng graduate who is now working as a Junior Test Analyst at Sopra Steria. Find out how he got into his role, what he did to prepare for moving onto a graduate job from university, how he found the job search experience and what advice he has for other graduates out there. 

 Tell us a bit about you, what you do, and where you work.

Hi, I’m Finlay! I graduated from Strathclyde University in June 2016 with an integrated masters or MEng in Electrical Mechanical Engineering, which is a joint course. I joined Sopra Steria, an IT consultancy, through their graduate intake in July 2016 and I am a Junior Test Analyst.

How did you end up in your current job role?

I started looking (for jobs) basically throughout that last year; it was a five-year course,  I started looking in my 5th year.  I went to one of the graduate fares at the SECC, throughout the year at the uni they will have a few of them.  With engineering and that type of industry, a lot of the time, I think people haven’t heard of the companies before they start applying for things but that’s where I first heard of them. So I went around that and collected the leaflets and I would note down some names of the ones I would want to apply for, I looked them up online and applied to the roles they had that suited me. I think my current job at Sopra Steria was the 4th interview I did but there were quite a few applications I filled in when I was looking for a job.

Did you have an idea of what kind of jobs you were looking for?

I had preferences but not really. One of the things I found which was quite annoying was that all of the companies, maybe this has always been the case but, all the companies seem to want you to apply to a role but you can’t really specify your location. I was quite keen to stay in Glasgow and I was quite keen to apply by location but they don’t really let you do that. I had to do a bit of digging to figure out which companies had offices where I would want to be. That was one of the things that was important to me, obviously the type of job itself was important but the location was also important to me – which they don’t really cater to.

I was never really sure if I’d want to do something directly linked to my course and so I was open to applying to jobs that weren’t necessarily directly linked to my degree. When I applied for this job it was the one that I was most interested in out of the others I had applied for.  I was pretty chuffed that I got it!

How did you prepare yourself for the job world when you were at uni?

There are always things you can add to your CV, you know, if you’re involved in societies etc. I mostly drew from experience I’d had from projects at uni and through work experience. These type of things are great for answering the “describe a time when…” sort of questions. A couple of summer’s ago between third and fourth year, I had a summer placement in an engineering office. It was a really useful thing to have because you get a feel for the environment that you’re likely to be working in when you graduate, if you get a graduate job. From that, you can get experience you can talk about and reference, and that’s a good thing to be able to say.

It’s good to ask around at uni, there was one guy in the year above us and he was well connected and involved in a lot of things – he had some good advice. So, if you can find people who know that sort of stuff then it’s useful. If you can speak to other people who have been on interviews and similar things, it’s always helpful to gather that and get a feel for things. Even down to how to prepare or how to dress for an interview.

How did University help to prepare you for trying to find a job?

The uni would always organise graduate fares as well as for people looking to get summer placements. Companies would set up their stalls and we could go along if we were interested. Actually, the summer placement I had, I found out about just from an email that the uni had sent around to us. That was something they did quite well, keeping us informed. I didn’t use the careers service much, I didn’t really know how to use it. I’m sure people found it useful but maybe if it felt a bit more accessible I might have used it.

Did you interview for any other companies?

I interviewed for three other companies, that was after quite a few applications. All of the applications and interviews have a really similar process. Within this industry, even though not all of the jobs I was applying for were the same, they all had quite similar interview processes. An assessment centre, usually it’s a full day with group activities and an individual interview which usually takes place at the company office or at a hotel.

What was the application process like?

You would apply online via a form you have to fill out – which might ask you to attach your CV. Once your form goes through and they’re happy with that you’ll do online tests, I think they’re psychometric tests. There’s normally some combination of simple maths questions which are timed. The maths itself is quite simple so I think it’s more about the time pressure. There’s reading comprehension to determine, if you’re given some information, how well you’re parsing the information. There were also some abstract logic questions – using shapes, you have to pick the next one in the pattern and things like that which is timed as well. I think that’s part of the whole test, to find out how well you’re coping with the time and stress, and what your strategy is for that.

So after those, usually there’s a phone interview. For my job with Sopra Steria I had a phone interview but, one of the other jobs I had applied for there was a video interview. I was expecting it to be on Skype which would have been awkward but it was even more awkward than that! They gave you questions and you had to record yourself answering them, I think you only had around 3 times to try and get your answer right. That was a particularly uncomfortable experience.

After the phone interview, it was a group assessment centre in which we had to give a presentation on basically any topic or just about yourself that you had to prepare beforehand. I guess that was just to see how well you could present. There was also a group exercise in which you have a scenario to solve and then present what had happened. I think that was to test teamwork –  to find out who’s organising the task well and find out if everyone can handle it well. The answer to the actual scenario didn’t seem to be that important it was more about how you arrived at the answer and could justify it.

Next, there was an individual interview which was specific to whichever job you were applying for – because the people in the assessment centre were all applying for different roles. In the interview there were questions you might expect like; “why did you decide to do your course?” “why did you decided to apply for this job?” “what is it about this job that you like?”. They also ask you some questions to check that you know about the industry – “what are some upcoming trends”. If you revise the industry then you should be able to answer them pretty well.

How did you prepare for the interviews?

For most of them, I would look up the company and have a read over their website. Try and find some cases of projects they had worked on, usually they will have that on their website and you know, things you can reference back to in the interview. Reading about the industry in general. With some of the more straightforward engineering roles, I expected to know enough from the things I learned throughout my uni course. Mostly though, my preparation involved researching, it can be difficult to fully prepare for the interviews. For some of the more technical roles I tried to have a look over my technical knowledge from uni – but you never know what will come up really. If you know what the job is going to entail then you should be able to roughly estimate what type of things will be useful to look over from your degree.

Having now been through the interview process yourself, how would you set up an interview?

I feel like, I don’t know what type of advantage there would be with the video interview I had spoken about previously. I feel like it’s going to be awkward and I don’t think it’s going to really show what people are like. I think a phone interview is marginally better because you’re speaking to them. The assessment centre, the thing about them is that they are long and will take up your whole day. It feels like you’ve wasted your time if you don’t get it – especially if you have to travel. For a couple of the jobs I applied for, including my current job, I had to travel through to Edinburgh for the assessment day. I guess that’s just part of the job process but it can be difficult. It’s quite nice to have it at the offices of the company.

Advice for Grads:

Well, what not to do is write a generalised cover letter and forget to change the fields before you send it to the next person. One of my friends did that! Be careful with those sort of things.

  1. Obviously, you want to tailor your CV to specific companies.
  2. I think it’s always good to have experience but I don’t think it’s easy for everyone to get. It’s one of those things where they seem to expect you to have loads of experience. You feel like it’s kind of stacked unfairly against people who can’t get experience, you know, there’s only so many work placements and summer placements so not everyone is able to do that. The placements are useful because it gives you an idea of what the job entails and if you would actually want to do that full time.
  3. Read up on the company you’re interviewing for – find out as much as you can about what the job will involve but I think the difficulty there can be that the information isn’t always available/clear.
  4. Save or copy the job role/description you have applied for, you will need to see that when the interview comes up.
  5. We did a lot of presentations at uni and it definitely came in handy. Get as much practise in as you can with that sort of stuff.
  6. Try not to stress about your travel the night before. A lot of little things can add up to try and stress you out on the day so eliminate those if you can.

What was the representation like for women, in your experience, at the assessment centres etc?

Not great. I assume because there are fewer women to chose from, out of STEM grads because the university courses are also male dominated, then obviously it becomes a male-dominated industry because it already is, and that sort of perpetuates itself. One of the interviews I was at, there was maybe 10-15 guys and one woman. Usually one or two. Still definitely the minority in most engineering/tech jobs which is a shame. I think there is support for that at uni, you know there will be a Women in IT scholarship or Women in Engineering which is good. I don’t know how effective it is though, I feel like they could definitely be doing more.

How are you getting on with your job? Tell us a bit about it.

So, my job is going well. I’m pleased because I like it! I’m enjoying testing so far. Obviously, it wasn’t something I  did at uni, there aren’t testing specific uni courses.

So day to day, we have our team who will be developing the software. If we are building a website, for example, there’s the business analyst who will get the requirements for the product you’re making and then I have to understand those requirements; question them and find out how I can test them. At that point, I can start thinking about how I can test the software – “what do I need to check?”, “How could I break it?” The developers will be developing it and I will keep in touch with them whilst they’re doing that, to clarify how it should operate. Once that bit of functionality is done, I’ll test it. I test it from a more technical side of things and from a user perspective too. Reporting back to the developers on what’s wrong with the software, reporting bugs and keeping track of defects in the systems. We also do user acceptance testing – setting up the software and getting someone who will actually use it to come in and figure out how to use the software with only simple instructions. On some occasions, I can be interacting with the code, it can be useful to have a look at it but usually, I’ll be a little bit more removed from it.

Whilst I’ve been at Sopra Steria, I’ve done a few training courses already and a few exams to get some qualifications. If there is training that I want, I can usually request it and they’ll try and get you a place if they think it will be useful to you. They are quite keen for you to have ownership over your career and have a great system in place to set your career goals and track them.

I graduated in June 2016 and my job started in July. I think my company has intakes set up for July, November, and February but I think a lot of other companies tend to do one in the summer and one in the winter. So I started in July and for the first 3 months it was mostly training and then after that, you’re ready to go. At the moment I’m working on an internal project but I’m hoping to be working with clients very soon.

Sopra Steria Logo

 


  Do you need some help with your cover letter or CV? Check out our blogs Writing Your Cover Letter – The Essentials & How to Woo a Recruiter With Your CV for our expert advice.

Are you a graduate looking to find your first role? Get in touch with us at hello@enigmapeople.com to find out how we can help you land the perfect job for you.

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Follow us on Twitter

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Posted February 06, 2017 | Digital Media, Industry Interviews, Software, Startups | No Comments »

[Interview] Joe Tree: Life in the Creative Industries, Blipfoto and Tech Start-Ups

This week, we’re chatting to Joe Tree – the man behind the hugely popular photo journal site, Blipfoto –  finding out where the idea came from, what he’s up to now, how he uses his unique set of business, technology, and design skills to create innovative projects and give back to the industry, and what he sees for the future of tech start-ups:

Hi, Joe! Tell us a wee bit us about who you are and where the idea for Blipfoto came from?

“Hi back atcha! I’ve spent most of my working life in the creative industries, but I’m a geek at heart so my best work has always included an element of new technology. I launched my first company—ainteractive media agency called Rocket—in the mid-1990s, just before the Internet and digital started to become mainstream. Equal measures of luck and foresight put us at the cutting edge of a whole new industry, and we spent fifteen fruitful years building websites, CD-ROMs (remember those?), interactive kiosks, presentations, animations and games for an impressive list of lovely clients, and many of Scotland’s ad agencies.

Blipfoto started life as a personal project when I set myself the challenge to take and share a photo every day of my life. There was something weirdly captivating about the process, both for me as the photographer and the people who dropped in every day to see my pictures. So we decided to make it a pet company project and build a platform anyone could sign up to and start their own daily photo journal.

blipfoto

 

It grew like crazy and in 2009 Blipfoto won a BAFTA Scotland Award, which gave us the resolve to find some investment and make it our sole focus. Jump forwards five years and we’d raised over $1.5m, were attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every month from every corner of the world, counted Steve Wozniak among our users and signed a deal with Polaroid to promote the service in the US.

That last bit didn’t go particularly well, the investment dried up and we had no choice but to call in the liquidators. It was a difficult moment but the whole journey was incredible and the most brilliant learning experience. I walked away with no regrets.

Fortunately, Blipfoto’s users pulled together and managed to crowdfund enough cash to buy the platform, putting it into community ownership and protecting it for the future. So the thing I created survived—and I hope will continue for many years to come.”

What are you up to now?

“After I stepped away from Blipfoto, I realised I had this weird but unique mix of design, technology and business expertise—and wanted to find a way to keep applying all three. So I turned my hand to helping other early-stage startups, with branding and positioning, UI and UX design, app development, business models, investment material, and so on.

Informatics Ventures use me every spring to help the companies pitching at EIE—by far the biggest investment event in Scotland—get their presentations in shape.
In September I joined The Scottish Government’s CivTech Accelerator as Head of Product, which has meant spending a couple of days a week supporting and mentoring the founders of nine companies as they solve some big public sector problems.

I’m quietly working away on a new masterplan or two of my own but, for the time being, thoroughly enjoying working with the companies I’m lucky enough to get commissioned by.”

What do you think 2017 has in store for the tech start-up industry in Scotland?

“Three massive things happened in 2016: Skyscanner’s founders finally realised the value of Scotland’s first unicorn; Jamie Coleman announced Accelerated Digital Ventures’ £150m fund and the expansion of Codebase across the UK; Scottish Equity Partners closed a new £260m tech fund. Together, I think they mark a pivotal point we’ll look back on in years to come.

Scotland now has multiple sources of tech-savvy capital, a new generation of graduates who consider launching or working for a startup a prudent career move, a proven path to a big exit, and CodeBase as a glowing beacon at the epicentre of it all. None of this was true five years ago.

So I think we’re going to see the whole industry scale up this year like never before—those who’ve been in it for a few years taking a big step up and a fresh wave of new companies following in their wake.
Lest we start feeling a bit too positive, let’s not forget how much of the talent driving value in these companies has come from outside the UK and made Scotland its home, and how important unfettered access to foreign markets is to us. If we do to take things to the next level, sadly it’ll be in spite of those holding power 400 miles south of here.”

Tell us a bit about the boards you’re on and why you’ve chosen to be involved with these specific ones.

“Over the years I’ve asked a lot of people for advice or help and, I think without exception, it’s been given freely and enthusiastically. I always try to do the same—none of us exists in isolation and in the end, we all benefit from a little generosity. So I’ve been happy to contribute my time to three groups doing incredible work in areas I care deeply about. Creative Edinburgh because it plays a vital role in nurturing, strengthening and promoting the capital’s creative industries; Out Of The Blue because they give people a place to do their thing and don’t always use pound signs to measure value; the Digital Media Industry Leadership Group because it’s a way to channel the needs of our disparate industry back to government.”

How can someone looking for advice get in touch with you?

“That’s easy: joetree.com

Joe Tree

 

Want to keep up to date with all of Joe’s latest projects?

Check out his blog or follow him on Twitter @joetree

 


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland.

Follow us on Twitter @enigmapeople @enigmapeople and LinkedInic_lkdin_22

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Posted January 09, 2017 | Career Advice, Industry Interviews, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] Dr. Mark Davison Talks UWS, Graduates & Trends in 2017

We love Tech (as you’ll know) but we also recognise we have a responsibility to give something back.

In 2016 we set out to help the people that train and mentor the most important resource in the tech sector, its people. We have loved working with Girl Geek Scotland, Tigers, City of Glasgow College, and very closely with UWS.

So we thought we’d ask course leader, Dr. Mark to give us an update on how things are going:

Tell us about UWS/ The programme which you lead and how you keep course content up to date?

“I’m programme leader for the BSc (Hons) Web & Mobile Development course at the University of the West of Scotland. We cover the main strands of HTML5,  JavaScript (ECMAScript), Hybrid Apps, PHP/MySQL, MVC, AngularJS and C# ASP.NET, with students branching out into areas such as Android & iOS native apps, node.js, Typescript, Firebase, Ruby on Rails, MongoDB, Joomla and even gaming SEO.

A primary influence on keeping the course up to date is demand from employers, speaking to recruitment agencies (such as Enigma!) and feedback from graduates.”

What are you most proud of?

“Industry input, industry awareness and industry connections.  We’ve built up a large network of employers, recruitment agencies and 200 “webby” graduates with up to fifteen years of commercial experience. This gets our students jobs.

Networking also gets us guest speakers, mentors or industrial placements from companies like Skyscanner, Arnold Clark, IBM, BT, MadeBrave, Foursquare, Morgan Stanley, Starcount and Traveltek.

Students on many of our programmes are able to participate in placements – subject to availability.  Many of these fit into the traditional “Sandwich” model running for a year and starting around the summer; others don’t though, and we’re always happy to talk about how placements can be a win-win-win solution for company, student and university.”

What do you think are the coming trends for software/ demand from employers?

“Java is a perennial but many of my graduates work in (or found) digital agencies so I’m most aware of the demand for web design, Responsive Web Design, WordPress, Magento, OO PHP, Docker and C#.

Every employer wants team working and client facing skills so we get our students talking to employers directly to find that out for themselves.”

What should businesses be doing to attract your graduates/ What would you like to see companies do more of?

“Education is very, very seasonal. It’s great if employers contact me in August about ideas for Honours projects or project mentorship as we’re always on the look-out for industry input.

Coming on to campus (Sept-Nov & Jan-Mar) to do a talk is good for drumming up applications. For us, it builds up student awareness of commercial realities.

We’re happy to publicise vacancies and hackathons too.

In November we run a speed networking event where we can host up to ten companies (see http://pict.uws.ac.uk/digital/speed-networking-for-success-at-university-of-the-west-of-scotland/).

Our biggest and busiest event is our Digital Futures annual student showcase which allows us to host more industry guests. The next one is on 4th May 2017 (we’re working on it but see http://pict.uws.ac.uk/digital/programme/  for 2016 event). Guests get to sit down with individual students to see their work and how they communicate. Some of my students get recruited that way each year.

Our events can be sponsored by industry, sometimes in the form of pizza & Irn Bru!”

 


Want to get in touch with Dr. Mark?

Dr. Mark Davison

Web & Mobile Development – Programme Leader

mark.davison@uws.ac.uk

Direct 0141 848 3605

LinkedIn

Twitter 


Enigma People is an award winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland.  Follow us on Twitter

@enigmapeople @enigmapeople and ic_lkdin_22 LinkedIn

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Posted August 09, 2016 | Career Advice, Industry Interviews, Software | No Comments »

[Interview] Sam Orme: A Journey Into Software Development

We recently questioned the role of formal qualifications in technology careers. In our blog “Working in Digital Marketing: do qualifications matter?” we argued Digital Marketing is following in the steps of Software Development, where it often doesn’t matter how or where you learn your skills (be it at College, University, self-study or on the job), as long your skills and self-taught knowledge are up to industry standard. We quoted Quartz who reported, “many are choosing ways to learn that offer everything but a degree: online courses, boot camps, on-the-job training, and collaborating with peers.

To prove it, we spoke to one such developer whose education and successful career has encompassed a combination of college, on the job learning and self-study.

  • Hi Sam! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi, my name is Sam, I am 22, born in Cambridge but moved to Scotland when I was 10. I am currently working as a Junior Software Developer at an oil company called Project Development International Ltd (PDi) in Aberdeen. I have been with PDi for just over 2 years’ full time now working on unique and complex applications for desktop, web, and mobile devices. I currently have a HND in Software Development and I am also studying towards a degree (BSc(Hons) Computing & IT Practice) part-time with The Open University, which will be completed in September 2016.

  • How did you get interested in Software Development?

I have always been interested in computers and started playing about with creating simple websites using an online website builder at http://www.webs.com by the age of 14. Throughout school, I always enjoyed computing and became particularly interested in the software development side of it, which made me decide to continue studying it at a higher level once I finished school.

  • Tell us about your development experience and your journey to get to where you are today?

I suppose my software development journey started properly when I left school, I applied and completed an HNC in Computing at Aberdeen College (now called North East Scotland College) and went on to study HND Computing: Software Development where, in December, I was offered a placement opportunity with PDi developing a small suite of analysis software using python.

I worked at PDi three days a week and slowly learned more and more through hands-on development (I was and still am the only developer at PDi so I had to self-teach myself everything). Over Christmas, I taught myself the C# programming language and started using that instead of python, these skills helped me greatly in completing my HND and I received an A for my graded unit. Upon completion of my HND in June 2014 I was offered a full-time role at PDi as a Junior Software Developer where I still am today.

I started at the Open University studying part-time towards BSc(Hons) Computing & IT Practice in October 2014. The course takes into account the experience I had already gained through working at PDi and builds on my HND for a Bachelors degree. The practical experience I gained through employment has made the university work a lot easier and I have used PDi, who have been very supportive, as a client for my final project.

  • We’re loving Lad Points in the office! Tell us a bit about this project and any others you’re working on?

Lad Points was a project that I had been considering doing for a long time and I finally got a chance with a couple of weeks break from university work to implement it. I started with the website and released an online version which my mates and I tested out. I then created the app for android which I originally put up for sale on the Google play store, however as the download count wasn’t great I made the app free which certainly helped it gain popularity! My original plan was to use the money made from the android app to help pay the apple development fees and eventually release the app for apple as well, however this did not happen. I am now in the planning stages of a new version of Lad Points with a lot more features!

I have worked on a fair few other projects, both work and personal. The one I am most proud of is probably The Hub. The Hub is an intranet application which hosts a variety of personal, business and social apps for PDi.

Contact Sam:
www.samorme.co.uk
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ormesam
Lad Points – Download the app now!


Enigma People is an award winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland.

Follow us on Twitter twitter
@enigmapeople and
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Posted May 04, 2016 | Industry Interviews, Software | No Comments »

Taking a Byte With ResDiary

ResDiary is an online restaurant booking system used in over 5,200 restaurants in 57 countries. Their software is responsible for over 7 million covers booked globally each month and is the winner of the 2013 B2B award at The Herald’s Scottish Digital Business awards.

Headquartered in Glasgow, ResDiary has helped transform restaurants around the world with it’s efficient booking system streamlined across multiple digital platforms.

We spoke with Mike Breewood, Chief Operating Officer at ResDiary to find out a bit more:

  • Hi Mike! Tell us a little about ResDiary and how it’s grown to where it is today?

“ResDiary was founded in 2006 by Mike Conyers, our CEO. He had previously spent 25 years running restaurants and wanted to build a system which would be better than anything else available and which would be based on real experience of the needs of restaurateurs. From 2 employees based in Glasgow, in 2006, we have grown organically to our current 45 employees, based in Glasgow, London, Dublin, Sydney and Wellington (New Zealand).”

  • How would you describe the culture of the company?

“Very much a can-do kind of place, we pride ourselves on being responsive to customer needs, whilst being focussed on building out the system with new features that all of our customers will find useful.”

  • What’s your favourite thing about working at ResDiary’s Glasgow office?

“Our development team tell me that their favourite thing is the fact that they have a quiet office where they can focus and which doesn’t have telephones ringing; overall, I think the best thing is that there is a definite team culture, where we all chip in to assist each other when needed.”

  • Where do you see future growth for ResDiary?

“We are growing very quickly in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand – and opening new offices in the USA and Hong Kong later this year.  Growth in the number of customers is of course what drives the business – and allows us to invest in growing our developer team. We see the dev team continuing to be based in Glasgow, with new team members joining every month.”

Mike Breewood | ResDiary | Software Roles Enigma People Interview

Mike Breewood COO, ResDiary


Enigma People Solutions is recruiting Software Developers to join the team in Glasgow!

If this sounds like the ideal opportunity for you then give Daria a call on 0141 332 4422/ email daria@enigmapeople.com or click the links below to apply online:

If you’d like to more about what it’s like to work at ResDiary check out what Senior Software Developer Ross Vernal has to say!


Enigma People is an award winning technology recruitment consultancy.  Follow us on Twitter @enigmapeople and LinkedIn.

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Posted March 29, 2016 | Industry Interviews, Technology Industry | No Comments »

Capturing Culture in the Technology Industry

The technology sector in Scotland is fast growing and incredibly diverse. 41% of digital technology jobs now exist in what are traditionally thought of as non-digital industries – such as the public sector and in financial services. As the number of jobs continues to grow, increased competition means that everyone is having to work harder to attract skilled talent. – Yet tech jobs are arguably still not given the status they deserve.

Luke Yerbury is MD at Makemeafilm.com – a video marketing agency working closely with businesses in Scotland’s tech industries to shake things up; help businesses better connect with customers and show the IT industry in a different light.

Video marketing is the fastest growing media platform in history and the team at Makemeafilm.com use it to bring to life the personality and culture behind businesses.

People buy from people

Luke argues that tech skills and soft skills are a powerful combination, and for Makemeafilm.com it’s never just about filming what’s in front of the camera. Luke builds relationships with clients to understand who they are, their challenges and motivations, and uses this to demonstrate identifiable brand values for businesses. The aim is to create a recognisable personality for an organisation and the personnel behind it, in a way that its customers can relate to.

Demonstrating a businesses culture in an easily recognisable, visual way helps businesses engage with their audiences on a much more personal level; quickly building familiarity and comfort, and ultimately building stronger and longer lasting relationships.

This is important for employer branding

We work with a number of innovative and truly inspiring businesses who should have candidates fighting to work with them. However with so many of these technology businesses in Scotland doing great things and not enough skilled people to work within them, clients really struggle to attract talent to join their teams.

Skilled candidates typically have 2 or 3 job offers to choose from, and company culture and relationships are very often the only differentiator between them. Luke and his team help businesses show potential employees and clients the real flavour of the business and of the tech industry as a whole. It’s all about differentiation and giving candidates and clients readily identifiable reasons to choose one company over another.

ScotlandIS

This is an aim shared by ScotlandIS – the trade body for the tech industry in Scotland, and Makemeafilm.com work closely with Scotland IS to portray technical industries in an interesting and constructive light, and to get across the full range of excitement and potential within the sector. They are the team behind the “Future Heroes of Technology” concept you may recognise from the ScotSoft Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards. They also work with ScotlandIS on the ScotlandIS Digital Technology Awards, creating distinctive video content, for all the shortlisted companies.

These projects employ new and imaginative ways to portray the companies and people involved, and in doing so, bring a breath of fresh air to the industry. As sponsors of the upcoming awards, we can’t wait to see how the shortlisted companies look on the big screen!

Check out some of their work in the video below and see how Makemeafilm.com is helping to change perceptions of IT in Scotland…

For the latest technology industry news follow us on Twitter @enigmapeople and LinkedIn! Or visit our job search for the latest vacancies

Makemeafilm.com | Enigma People SolutionsEnigma people solutions & makemeafilm.com changing perceptions in the IT industry in Scotland

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Posted March 14, 2016 | Industry Interviews, Women in Technology | No Comments »

Enigma People Meet Girl Geek Scotland

Enigma People Solutions recently attended the re-launch of Girl Geek Scotland, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered an inspiring talk on the importance of women’s roles in technology. Girl Geek Scotland is a community for women working with technology, digital media, business and creativity in Scotland. We spoke with Morna Simpson, the brains behind this community in Scotland to find out more:

Hi Morna! So what is Girl Geek Scotland?

“Girl Geek Scotland (GGS) is a network for women working with “Creativity, Computing and Enterprise”, in Scotland. GGS aims to develop a network of women, who are able to support each other at entry-level, and throughout their careers.

We primarily have dinner events, as we find these suit women’s networking style so well. We have also run Business Breakfasts, and workshops in programming, and start-up skills. Going forward we also aim to develop some scholarships in computing for women. It really is an economic imperative to get more women into tech related careers. The area is so male dominated and as a country we are already suffering from a skills deficit.”

How did you get involved in the community?

“I first heard about the Girl Geek Dinner network when I was working as a Lecturer of interaction design, at the University of Dundee in 2008. I think I must have been searching for events for women in my sector. I felt like I was constantly surrounded by men or people who ‘thought like men’, and I wanted to connect with other people who were just a bit more like me.

Like many people I thought Girl Geek Dinners, was a government, funded endeavour and I really thought that they should hold events in Scotland. So I contacted the founder Sarah Blow, and suggested she held events in Scotland. She got back in touch and said “Why don’t you do it.” It always makes me laugh to think about how arrogant I must have sounded, but she gave the right response. It was a fair cop!

So I flew down to London to attend an event myself and met up with Sarah. She gave me the “Girl Geek Dinner Rules of Engagement”, and a month or so later I reached out to a lot of people across universities and other organisations and the whole thing just snowballed.

We had our first event with only 30 people in early 2009. I asked an ex-student to design and build a website for us – which I paid for. Then kept my fingers crossed that we would sell enough tickets not to run at a loss.  

By 2010 we had a regular programme with international speakers in 4 Scottish cities, and were running workshops as well. The School of Informatics in Edinburgh became our parent organisation, and Informatic Ventures was a huge support.

Then I had an accident where I needed quite a bit of surgery, there were a lot of knock on issues so I was out of work for a number of months. We slowed things right down at GGS for a while and I was actually planning to shut the community down earlier this year. I ran some interviews on LinkedIn as a way of saying goodbye and soon discovered that there was a lot of goodwill towards us, and a hunger for our events. 

Jane Grant at Red Triangle and Napier University got in touch and offered their support in December so we have continued on with Napier taking over as parent organisation. It been a very rapid journey since, and I’m loving it!”

Tell us a bit more about the recent relaunch event in February?

“We have just had our relaunch with Nicola Sturgeon as guest of honour, announcing our new partnership with Napier University, Bright Red Triangle. Informatic Ventures once again demonstrated their support with sponsorship for the evening. The evening attracted around 150 delegates showing support and discussing ideas and plans for future success.

We dream big at Girl Geek Scotland and plan to have at least 3 of our ‘trademark’ Girl Geek Dinners and 2 workshops this year.” 

Nicola Sturgeon Girl Geek Scotland Interview

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon helps launch GGS and Napier’s new partnership

This is an exciting time for the growing technology industry in Scotland, however the gender imbalance is still holding businesses back. What, in your opinion, can the industry and employers do to help?

“The key thing people need to do is to educate themselves, in unconscious bias. Women have a different culture. They will select different role models, be inspired by different things, overcome their fears; and in every context, they will present themselves differently from men. The blending of work and family life is also more apparent in the way they tend to communicate. We all need to educate ourselves in the cultural differences in language, so that we can better understand each other.

Next, men must stop telling women that the reason they are not progressing is to do with a lack of confidence. That is an entirely unhelpful comment. Research has shown, that for many women lack skills and experience is the most likely obstacle to progression. This can often be the result of a career break, taken for maternity or childcare. Mentors tend to treat women differently than they treat men, and fail to tell them about this gap in their profiles, or how they can address it.

Imagine if a man had an accident, that resulted in a 5 year patchy career. It is normal for women to have 2 – 5 years when their career is patchy due to maternity and childcare. It’s not just that technology has moved on. Processes, working practice, suppliers, buyers and organisations have most likely moved on too. Most importantly your contacts have moved on, making a high level of performance impossible. You cannot expect women to hit the ground running if their career network has gone cold. Businesses need to do more to support women back into work.

Successful women can be unsurprisingly resentful, of being treated as ‘token’ speakers on topics around gender bias, when it is not their area of expertise.  Although many women want to give back to the community, it can be an extra pressure if they are always called on for this role.  Work and family are already a huge commitment. Then they are expected to come out with personal anecdotes – and these might not be things they want to share. It is far better to have women speak on topics in their area of expertise.”  


Morna currently works freelance as a Product Manager and Digital Strategist for a Nano Technology company, and developing Corporate Training in Business Analysis.

She started her career in textile design. Looking for a more intellectual challenge, she taught herself web design on a computer borrowed from a friend.  She found there was something incredibly comforting about coding, reminding her a lot of weaving, where she had a natural ability to see patterns in it. She began working for a digital agency, in a role, which would now be considered a blend of UX (design and code) and Product Management.  She then spent 8 years working in a lecturing and research post, in digital and interaction design, at a local university.

If you are interested in offering your financial support or volunteering to help at Girl Geek Scotland, please contact hello@girlgeekscotland.com or visit http://www.girlgeekscotland.com for more information.

Girl Geek Scotland (GGS) is a network for women working with “Creativity, Computing and Enterprise”, in Scotland. GGS aims to develop a network of women, who are able to support each other at entry-level, and throughout their careers, working at the intersection between these 3 key areas.

Although GGS markets its products towards women, it welcomes people of all gender identities, and particularly recognises the need to include men, who can offer support in working towards a gender balanced, career ecosystem.

Bright Red Triangle (BRT) is based at Edinburgh Napier University and offers a one-stop shop for extra-curricular student enterprise activities. Our offer is open to students, staff and graduates of Edinburgh Napier University, as well as local businesses.  We support innovation and enterprise and offer a range of pathways to connect our students, staff and alumni to the community through enterprise start-up activities, business support and consultancy services, and social innovation projects. Bright Red Triangle aims to positively impact our student experience, local businesses and the wider community.

Girl Geek Scotland Interview With Enigma People Solutions

Bright Red Triangle Girl Geek Scotland Enigma People Solutions

Additional Links

http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/women-at-top-of-tech-sector-discuss-next-generation-1-4057661

http://futurescot.com/why-the-it-crowd-needs-more-women/

http://www.girlgeekscotland.com/first-minister-nicola-sturgeon-helps-launch-ggs-and-napiers-new-partnership/

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nerds-do-well-with-a-little-help-from-girl-geek-network-1-4061227

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Posted February 29, 2016 | Industry Interviews, Software, Women in Technology | No Comments »

Women in Technology: An Interview with Vet Solutions

In this weeks blog we interview Carol Shuttleworth – Head of Implementation and Development at Vet Solutions – the largest provider of practice management software to the UK veterinary profession.

Enigma People Solutions has worked with Carol throughout her successful career. She shares with us her experiences of working in Scotland’s technology industry, as an employee and an employer, and discusses the role of women in technology.

 

Carol Shuttleworth Vet Solutions Women in Technology Enigma People Solutions interview

“There seems to be less female software developers in the pool now – whether that is to do with the particular personalities drawn into development, I’m not sure.”

Carol began her career working as what would nowadays be considered a modern apprentice and business studies student, where her department rotation into the IT Support department sparked her interest in technology. She found the role enabled her to see real results for her efforts, working closely with customers and solving their technical issues. After the company acquired a Software house in Scotland, Carol took the opportunity to relocate and went into a field based role, acquiring a range of hands on technical skills from building systems to installing servers.

She then joined Kingston Communications, working closely with overseas startup mobile telecoms companies, one of which was acquired by Vodafone. This was an exciting move to make as the mobile market was just taking off at that time. She continued working closely with customers and analysing business processes as an Applications Specialist and then progressing to a Training Manager Role and Project Lead.

Carol now heads up Implementation and Product Development at Vet Solutions, where she is responsible for ensuring a smooth experience for customers throughout the implementation process of their software.


  • Hi Carol! Tell us what first interested you in working in a technology environment?

“As an apprentice I rotated between departments every 6 months. I quickly realised I enjoyed the IT Support role above anything else that I had done in other departments.

I enjoyed working directly with customers and making a real difference, adding value to their business and training them how to get the best out of their application.

The role allowed me to see the results of my efforts, and I gained satisfaction from getting a crashed system up and running again. For example, you would go from a situation where the customer feels their business is in a little bit of a crisis and they may not be able to pay their payroll because a machine has crashed, to getting them back up and running and able to make payments.

It was that kind of saving the day and solving problems for a customer which was very rewarding.”

  • Did you perceive any obstacles or were there any obstacles that you had to overcome in terms of the industry and role?

“When I began working on the support desk the majority were female. I think that’s down to the softer skills that women, in the main seem to have over a male. There was a need for patience and curiosity to ask the questions to get the answers you needed, because back then the technology didn’t exist to be able log on to the clients system and see what was going on. So it was all about questioning to help resolve the issues.

It has had a subtle change, certainly throughout my first role where the majority of staff on helpdesks were female and those in the field were male. Over time the ratio had really evened itself out.”

  • Was the career path not as open for women at that point?

“From my experience you do see a lot of opportunities. As a woman you do have access to these opportunities, but I felt I needed to work a lot harder to be successful and get recognised. I think to some extent that is the same today.

The consistent message is that women feel, and it certainly seems to be the case that they have to work harder to be recognised.

I am lucky here that I work for a General Manager who sees the value of female managers and sees what a woman with my experience brings to the business.”

  • In terms of women in technology you have been in a great position to observe the industry for many years as an employee and as an employer. What is your experience of recruiting women in the industry? 

“My current recruiting experience is that there seems to be less female software developers in the pool now – whether that is to do with the particular personalities drawn into development, I’m not sure.

There are increasing numbers of young females starting courses but often they move into roles that have more to do with utilising communication skills.

When I worked at Response we participated in the  modern apprenticeship scheme and out of 20 candidates I interviewed, only 1 was a young female and she was successful in gaining the apprenticeship. She was way ahead of the males in terms of communication skills, she maybe didn’t have the level of technical skills that the others did but that was the easy bit to teach somebody. I coached her and mentored her and she won the award for the West of Scotland best apprenticeship in 2012. I was very proud of her.”

  • What advice would you give to women and girls trying to get into the technology industry? What can the industry do help improve things?

“If you have found something that you enjoy doing be it programming, training, business applications, just go for it.

If you don’t have a degree then find employers that will give you the time and education you require. We have invested in people here at Vet Solutions who have displayed this kind of enthusiasm. It is up to us as individuals to be more assertive.

Employers have to be open to sponsoring, developing and challenging individuals but that takes time to allow people to grow. That is how I behave as an employer.”


Vet Solutions is the largest provider of practice management software to the UK veterinary profession. They are a part of Henry Schein-  a Fortune 500® Company and a member of the S&P 500® and NASDAQ 100® Indices. Together they are the world’s largest supplier of healthcare products to medical, dental and veterinary professionals, which has enabled Vet Solutions to become firmly established as the market leader in the field.

For the latest job opportunities with Vet Solutions contact Daria on 0141 332 4422 or email Daria@enigmapeople.com!

For the latest Scottish technology news and jobs follow us on Twitter @enigmapeople and LinkedIn.

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Posted August 12, 2015 | Electronics, Industry Interviews, Scotland, Women in Technology | No Comments »

Women in Engineering: Interview with Mairi Torrie

With the role of women in engineering proving to be a hot topic in the technology industry recently, we spoke to Mairi Torrie, Project Manager and Principal Engineer at indie Semiconductor – a fast growing fabless semiconductor company that designs and manufactures custom, microcontroller-based chips. Having attended state school in the North East of Scotland in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Mairi may have been an unlikely candidate for a career in engineering. However, with a very successful career spanning over 25 years in Scotland’s engineering industry Mairi helps us understand the challenges facing women in the industry and how to overcome these.

Women in Engineering: Interview with Mairi Torrie | indie Semiconductor | Electronics Scotland

Mairi Torrie, Project Manager and Principal Engineer at indie Semiconductor

  • Can you give an overview of your career post university and how you got to where you are now?

After obtaining my undergraduate degree I chose to work for GEC and studied part time for a masters degree whilst working for them. I learned a lot but decided that after 3 years it was time to move on. I chose a new opportunity with a very small company. I went from a company with 10’s of thousands of employees to one that had 11 employees. That gave me some very good experience of working in a small company and a small team which I enjoyed. This experience helped me get my next job with more experience of different tools, skills and a broader range of the design lifecycle. I joined VVL, an Edinburgh University spin out specializing in camera imaging technology, which was later acquired by STMicroelectronics. VVL was a team of 37, joining when it was still quite small meant that I was able to be involved in all aspects of the design and silicon bringup process. When ST acquired us, that opened up many new opportunities – I travelled to work with people in other countries, I moved out of pure design to be technical team lead and design team leader. ST was particularly supportive of me, and of other women, in that role.

After 16 years essentially in the same company (VVL and ST) I moved to a new opportunity at SKF, the world’s largest bearings manufacturer, to work as a Project Manager in their condition monitoring centre. This gave me exposure to a new environment and new challenges.

After a very productive and enjoyable 2 years there, I was approached by a former colleague from ST, with the opportunity to join an interesting startup headquartered in California, who was looking into setting up a design centre in Edinburgh. As I had shown in the past, I like joining new innovative projects and so the opportunity to be in at the start of something new was too attractive to turn down.

I was the first of the team in Edinburgh to start working for indie in 2013, initially as a contractor, then as a permanent member of staff when the design centre opened with 2 other core team members. I am excited to be part of a fast growing company. Next month we are moving into a bigger office that will accommodate a design team of up to 20 people. indie is growing fast and shipping millions of chips each year into applications ranging from automotive and medical to industrial and consumer, so the work is varied and interesting.

  • What first interested you about STEM subjects and how did you find you perform in these?

I had always enjoyed puzzles and this led to me enjoying maths and physics at school. My teachers made the STEM subjects interesting and relevant and helped me see how they related to every day life. They could see my talent in the subject and encouraged me to attend a 5th year promotion for women in engineering where we learned how this can be an ideal industry for girls. Before that I had never thought about a career in engineering but it inspired me to look into it. As part of this promotion, I applied to several companies asking for sponsorship and was invited to interview with a few. I accepted an offer from GEC Ferranti (now Selex). They sponsored me through university (the only female student out of 12 that they sponsored), and gave me a summer job working in different groups within the company, gaining valuable industry experience from the age of 17 onwards.

  • What obstacles, real or perceived, did you have to overcome?

At secondary school I had to get my Dad to convince the school to allow me to do O-grade technical drawing and engineering science. Up until then only boys had been allowed to do that – equally only girls were allowed to do home economics.

Upon entering University I was disappointed to be told by a senior lecturer that I was taking a space that could have been given to a boy, that the degree would be no use as I would “just go off and breed”. When I performed well I was told I did “not bad, for a woman.” That just made me more determined to succeed and I won a first year engineering prize, which surprised some of my classmates.

In my first job full time at GEC I was the only woman out of 71 in the department, where everybody assumed I was the administrator just because I was female. The people that treated me with the most suspicion and negativity were some of the more senior, older engineers. My contemporaries and those younger tended to be more used to and accepting of women in the engineering workplace.

I am pleased to say that this has changed for the better in recent years and women in engineering are now treated equally.

  • What is your take on the reason behind such low numbers of women working in the tech industry and the low number of girls coming into the tech industry?

I hear often that there is a continued push to encourage girls to take on the STEM subjects but I also hear that girls are outperforming boys in these subjects. What disappoints me is that there are so few women then entering the engineering profession. I think all children are interested in and excited by engineering and science and the Edinburgh International Science Festival is a fantastic example of this. It is just for some reason there is a gender stereotype that means that girls are less exposed to it.

I feel that generally engineering is misunderstood and misrepresented in the UK. In other countries engineers are seen to have the status of a professional like a doctor or lawyer, but this is generally not the case in the UK. There are other countries that are ahead of the UK in terms of equality in society in general. Engineering is often wrongly perceived to be hands on with machinery but actually most of my time is spent in the office, sitting in front of a computer screen. It is a wide and varied profession with a range of opportunities in different area disciplines. I have chosen to do electronic engineering where you have the opportunity to innovate, design, explore, and problem solve – no two days are the same. Whilst you have the opportunity to create and innovate you do so as part of a team, with support. For me designing something for a customer is like solving a puzzle. It is really a thrill to design something, see it go into production and see it being used whether it is a phone camera or a sensor for a huge bearing.

  • What advice would you give to girls/women now?

Have a thick skin. Although it is has lessened now, there are still people out there who think engineering should be for men only, so learn to handle that. There is still the perception that, as a female engineer you have to be that little bit better to be treated equally, but don’t let people’s perceptions put you off – just like male nurses or primary teachers shouldn’t let gender stereotypes influence their careers.

  • How can we encourage girls/women into the industry?

Sell the industry better and make it clearer what working as an engineer is really like. If you want hard hats and machines, it can be that. However, it can also be sitting at a computer designing or coding in a fun environment, with flexible working and career progression. This is a great industry for women, there are career choices that allow you to continue to develop and work structure can be flexible, which does work well with a family. There are opportunities to travel, progress, and take on leadership roles, stay technical or move on to project and people management. In my experience, women that are attracted to engineering tend to be organised, logical and problem solving, utilizing softer skills to handle customers or managing engineering teams and projects.

I think it’s important to continue the current initiatives which do a fantastic job in raising awareness and continue promoting the industry to school girls (and boys). I also think that it is helpful for women who are working in the industry, such as me, to go into schools and show young girls that there is absolutely no reason why they can’t have a career in engineering.

Women in ICT and Digital Technologies sector – Scottish Government and SDS study

With this in mind, The Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University have been commissioned by the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland to undertake a survey to understand the gender imbalance in the ICT and Digital Technologies sector in Scotland. 

The survey seeks the views of anyone in Scotland who is currently working in the sector, who manages or recruits those in ICT roles, or who teaches or studies on a relevant college or university course through a short questionnaire. It will remain open until 28 August.

The survey can be accessed here: https://survey.napier.ac.uk/n/WomenInICT.aspx.

Other resources

IEEE Women in Engineering

Women’s Engineering Society

Equate Scotland

Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology



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Posted March 09, 2015 | Industry Interviews, Startups | No Comments »

Leadership of the Lion(el)

Say hello to Lionel Federspiel, the newest member of the indie Semiconductor leadership team. As VP of Engineering, Lionel manages the highly talented engineering team, developing their system on chip custom and generic solutions, combining mixed-signal IC design and custom microcontroller systems with supporting software.

Lionel Federspiel - Meet indie Semiconductors VP of Engineering

Leadership of the Lion(el) – Meet indie Semiconductors VP of Engineering

Lionel brings with him a wealth of experience across the semiconductor/ microelectronics industry. His impressive career encompasses a number of years at Broadcom, first as a Senior Program Manager and then Director of Systems Design. Prior to this, he held Program Manager roles at STMicroelectronics and Infineon Technologies. The Frenchman’s career has taken him across the globe, studying in Lyon, France, and Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University, then going on to work with STMicroelectronics in France, Singapore and California.

Both indie Semiconductor’s CEO, Donald McClymont, and Lionel’s special affiliation with Scotland means the company’s recent expansion to Edinburgh has been a fantastic move for the Californian company. They have doubled their design team here within a year, with a bigger office location imminent. I was lucky enough to catch Lionel on a quick trip over to the UK and find out a bit more about his move to indie Semiconductor.

Hi Lionel! What attracted you to join indie Semiconductor?

“One key element was that most start ups are driven by whoever owns them – the venture capital investors. indie Semiconductor is different. The management team has strong and stable ownership, financially speaking, and has control over where the company goes.

That is a very different model from 99%, of start up companies, especially in California, who are driven by their VC’s and who even die from VC’s. indie Semiconductor’s success isn’t dependent on this kind of set up. If we make mistakes, it’s our fault. If we succeed, it’s because of our hard work. I like the business model. I like the challenge it brings.”

How does indie Semiconductor’s business model differ to competitors and other start ups?

“I like the business model from a management perspective, as well as from a customer and applications perspective. indie Semiconductor addresses markets which have not, or cannot be addressed by larger corporate companies whose sole interest lies in the next big ‘Samsung’.

The business model of these corporate companies is vastly different to start ups, where development times can take much longer. You have to overcome many hurdles to reach from initial design to end product. Start ups are much more agile, with quick turn around times, and they just get things done. At indie Semiconductor you very quickly see something go from a concept to an actual product. When you work for a research department in Cisco, for example, you would never see this. Like my colleague Scott Kee describes – this model gives engineers the opportunity to gain experience across different disciplines, rather than being pigeon holed into one area.

Addressing niche markets fits the capabilities of the team extremely well. You don’t need to the same man power to fulfil these needs than if you were delivering integrated chips to Samsung, compared to niche market customers. indie Semiconductor is addressing an enormous collection of niches in the embedded space, a $30 billion market. Although we are addressing niches and smaller customers, as an aggregate the goal/potential is to make a very large company indeed, because even a small share of that market can make a significant dent in the global semiconductor space.”

What do you look for in an engineer for the indie Semiconductor team?

“There needs to be a balance, someone to drive, coach, and mentor the junior level engineers, whilst still using their skills and time productively as a senior member of the team. The requirement is always for individual contributors who can work autonomously and drive what they need to drive, without requiring too much management, but never the less there must be a balance.

The benefit of working at a company the size of indie means your individual contribution can make a difference for the company and for yourself. You have the opportunity to be a part of something that is small and growing very fast, whilst being a significant player – a rare environment for engineers to be able to enjoy.”

Indie semi logo

indie Semiconductor are expanding their 30+ team of engineers and recruiting for Digital Design Engineers and Analog & RF IC Engineers & Chip Leads. If you would like to work alongside Lionel and the indie Semiconductor team, contact Ben Hanley on + 44 141 332 4422 or email indiesemi@enigmapeople.com.

To find out more about indie Semiconductor, visit www.indiesemi.com or read our exclusive interviews with CEO Donald McClymont and CTO Scott Kee:

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Posted December 09, 2014 | Electronics, Industry Interviews, Scotland | 2 Comments »

Making Chips and Having Fun

I recently spoke with Scott Kee, Chief Technology Officer at indie Semiconductor about how they built their highly successful multi-million dollar global semiconductor company. In part 2 of the exclusive interview, Scott delves deeper into the technology behind the company and some of their current projects: 

Describe some of the projects you are currently working on as a company. What are the challenges involved?Scott Kee - Chief Technology Officer - indie Semiconductor

Project 1: indie is currently designing a highly integrated chip that will integrate Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) into a single device. Right now there are a lot of electronic systems interested in adding communications capability without otherwise changing the basic functionality of the system. A typical example might be a medical test for a given condition. Providing a BLE chip which is very integrated and very low cost will allow the medical application to add communications to a Smartphone. Doing this design is challenging because we have to pick a single process technology and integrate everything – processor, memory and radio – all into it. Everything we do has to be considered in the context of both die area and power consumed, so it’s challenging on multiple levels.

Project 2: indie is building a new chip to form the heart of a consumer product that is part of the food and drink industry. The chip has to be very low power, as it has to be always on, activated by a sensor that detects when a human wants something from it. It has to turn on a powerful heater and LED lights but also has to handle cryptographic functions to ensure the authenticity of its supplies. Data on usage must be stored and then uploaded when it “docks” with its container. The whole assembly has to fit within a very small housing so the chip and its package is only 3x3mm. Creating something like this is a challenge not just from the design perspective but also in terms of the architecture of the system.

Where do you see future markets or growth for indie
Semiconductor? How do you see the market growing?

I see a very large amount of market growth for what we are doing in general. Not just for the semiconductor market specifically, but market growth for the medium-to-high volume customised system-on-chip market.

Unless you have a very well oiled engineering process flow to make such chips, then you either have a team that is incapable of doing it or you have a team which cannot do it on the fixed cost model that is required.

For us, we don’t have a hard time finding customers. In terms of various kinds of designs that are out there, I’m almost agnostic to what we design. I believe we can do just about anything. What makes indie special is the business model of how we put chips together and how our engineering flow is, rather than any particular product area. With that said, we do various communication products and there are certain things we do well mostly because we have done them in the past. For example, we have a lot of radio expertise, as a lot of us have been radio designers in the past as well. But basically whatever the customers need then that is what I want to make.

I do find that I enjoy bringing in techniques that are more advanced than what would typically be applied in the customer’s field. Due to our experience, we know a lot of the advanced techniques that are out there and a lot of the customers just don’t get somebody with those capabilities ever coming to talk to them. So sometimes we go to the customer and they think they want something and then we say ‘that’s not what you want, here is this technique over here, we can do that for you and it will be better.’ It’s consultative, part of our added value. We can bring the advanced knowledge of system on chip; not just bolting chips together, we actually bring some cleverness to it as well. In the markets we are competing for, sometimes that cleverness is lacking.

indie Semiconductor presents excellent opportunities for engineers looking to take ownership, build capabilities and create fun stuff. Being a flat organisation, it allows engineers to have a full visibility into everything that is going on, gain experience across multiple disciplines and be involved in the full life cycle of a product they helped build.

Scott tells us “The distinction between a design engineer on the implementation side or the technical marketing product specification side of things is less clear in our company as people get to be involved in both.”

“A lot of engineers never actually get to hold in their hand the part their design ended up in. For engineers who like to see the customer side of the product and are interested in taking ownership of the product, you get to see the whole thing.”

If you would like to join the indie Semiconductor team in Edinburgh or Southern California then contact Ben Hanley on + 44 141 332 4422 or email indiesemi@enigmapeople.com.

Click here to read part 1 of Scott Kee’s interview. 

Or if you want to know about indie Semiconductor’s expansion into Edinburgh, read our exclusive interview with CEO Donald McClymont.

Indie semi logo



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Posted November 17, 2014 | Electronics, Industry Interviews, Scotland | 5 Comments »

indie Semiconductor’s Technology Tale

With over $10 million in global semiconductor sales and a growing design team in Edinburgh, indie Semiconductor is a Californian company coming to Scotland with a bang. After getting to know their CEO Donald McClymont and find out why they chose Edinburgh, I wanted to find out more about the technology behind the company and how they came to be, so who better to speak to than Chief Technology Officer, Scott Kee.

As CTO, Scott is responsible for the technology decisions and the direction that the company takes. He is a skilled software, analogue and digital engineer, meaning he is involved in all aspects of the designs that indie Semiconductor does. With an impressive background, he is one of two indie semiconductor founders who obtained their Ph.D from the world-renowned Caltech University in California.

Chief Technology Officer, Scott Kee - indie Semiconductor

Hi Scott! Firstly tell us how you got into electronics and how you got to where you are now?

Growing up I was just a natural engineer, I guess. I was the kind of guy who liked to take things apart and put them back together again, mostly back the way I took them apart but not always. I come from a family of engineers so it was natural I suppose. I liked to take apart electrical stuff, I like music a lot, so amplifiers and guitars, plus I like computers, so both those things combined together pushed me in that direction. Went to school, liked it, and then kept going.

I went to University of Delaware, which was an interesting school at the time because they were attempting to make an ambitious leap from a mid level school to a top-tier school and so they hired a bunch of young engineering professors who were looking for research assistants. There was a great mix; you got these young guys who were really ambitious with lots of great interesting ideas and the sort of older crowds from the traditional days who were more interested in mentoring students and taking them under their wing. It was the perfect combination for me so I decided to go there.

One professor I had been working with at Delaware had got me involved in what was almost borderline applied physics more than electronic engineering projects, which made me an interesting candidate for a group at Caltech. There I met indie Semiconductor co-founder Ichiro Aoki. (This is actually company number 3 for Ichiro, who had founded his first highly successful electronics company whilst still in school in Brazil). Ichiro and I worked well together as engineering buddies.

The work we were doing in school was quite compatible with starting a company, making cellular phone power amplifiers far cheaper and at lower manufacturing costs compared with competing technologies at the time, and in theory could increase integration with other parts of the cellphone, reducing not just cost but size too. We wanted to strike while the iron was hot so we recruited Donald, who at the time was VP of Marketing for Axiom Microdevices (a multimillion dollar electronics company later acquired by Skyworks), and took it from there. We kept adding more customers and adding products and here we are.

Our very first customer as AyDeeKay (indie Semiconductor’s original company name) was actually Ichiro’s previous Brazilian company, and their product is still selling today.

Following this success, what advice would you give to young aspiring engineers? What opportunities are there for them at indie Semiconductor?

It depends on what they are looking for. When I was an engineer all I wanted to do was learn things, build more capabilities and create fun stuff. In terms of what opportunities there are in our company then we’re a flat organisation; everyone, not just the engineers, has full visibility of everything that is going on. The distinction between a design engineer on the implementation side or the technical marketing product specification side of things is less clear in our company as people get to be involved in both.

You find that if you are an engineer in our company, you have more ownership of the product, you’re more likely to be interacting with the customer directly and you are going to be experiencing multiple disciplines, not just one. Participating in multiple disciplines is down to your abilities and your interest but you are at least going to be in much more variety than you might in a larger company where you may be pigeon holed into one particular little work area.

It would be highly attractive for me as a student/ young engineer. It’s sort of down to your personality – how much do you like to see how things are done? A lot of engineers never actually get to hold in their hand the part their design ended up in. For engineers who like to see the customer side of the product and are interested in taking ownership of the product, you get to see the whole thing.

I have found the engineers here are often better rounded, which is compatible with what we are looking for. We are trying to get people to understand how the systems are put together, generate their own specs, directly speak to customers and find out what they want and well-rounded engineers are ideal for that.

Because of the opportunities available in south California, a good percentage of engineers there tend to get specialized; they tend to be better at working in large teams, having somebody tell them what to do and following instructions. Which means that if you hire them in then they wouldn’t be quite right for a company which likes you to work independently and use your initiative. We have been impressed with the quality of engineers here in Scotland for these reasons.

The design team is in Edinburgh with the head office in California. How do you envisage the Scotland team and the US team working together as the team gets bigger?

So far it’s been easy as the disciplines have been split but it’s unlikely that will continue. Right now the bulk of the digital design expertise is in Edinburgh and we are building out our CAD and EDA expertise here too. The genesis of the design centre here was the personal contacts with digital engineers in the area. We needed digital engineers, so that was the solution to the problem and I am glad we have come here and met some very talented people.

In terms of the interaction, we run a large amount of small projects compared to some other companies where you may have a team of say 30 people all working on one project and it’s tightly coordinated. It works pretty well, the chips individually might have a smaller group of people working on them and even those tasks can be segmented fairly easily.

Time Zone is tricky however a large portion of our time is between 5pm and 6pm calls to handle the cross Atlantic difference, a lot can be done via email or various other electronic means, however it hasn’t been a problem so far I have to say.

So tell me what do you love most about being in Scotland?

I like the city, Edinburgh. I like to walk around, it’s very much a walking around city. The verticality is impressive, walking down to the medieval part of the city is great and people are nice here. You can go into the pub and people will just talk to you, it’s a friendly city. The atmosphere here allows you to sit around, meet people and talk. The food’s good too, I can eat a large amount of haggis.

So there you have it, a closer look behind indie Semiconductor’s technology tale. If you would like to join the indie Semiconductor team in Edinburgh or Southern California then contact Ben Hanley on + 44 141 332 4422 or email indiesemi@enigmapeople.com.

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Posted October 13, 2014 | Electronics, Industry Interviews, Scotland | 6 Comments »

[INTERVIEW] Donald McClymont – Why Edinburgh is Right for indie Semiconductor

indie Semiconductor is a $10 million dollar Californian company which has started expanding into Edinburgh. Recently rebranded and recruiting tech talent in Scotland, this is an exciting, high profile technology company which can really make a difference to Edinburgh’s electronics market. I had the opportunity to meet with CEO Donald McClymont and find out a little bit more about them and their Scottish expansion.

Donald McClymont – Why Edinburgh is Right for indie Semiconductor

Donald is a born and bred Scot. After studying Electronics at one of Scotland’s top universities, the University of Glasgow, Donald launched his career as a design engineer at Wolfson Microelectronics, before spending several years in Germany and then eventually settling in sunny California in 2000. Donald and his now current partners launched their semiconductor start up AyDeeKay (now known as indie Semiconductor) in 2007 and have now grown into a global electronics company, with 3 locations – United States, Scotland and China.

What made you decide on Edinburgh as a location to expand indie Semiconductor?

My connection to Edinburgh and its good, stable engineering pool is what attracted us here.

Recruiting in the United States was becoming difficult, particularly for digital and technical talent, which wouldn’t allow us to grow as fast as we needed to. It’s more acute in the US than in the UK and being co-located with 2 of the world’s largest semiconductor companies proved to be an issue for attracting talent in terms of salaries and competition for the best people.

People like living in the south of Scotland and once they move here they typically don’t leave. My personal pet theory is that the Scottish University system tends to produce well rounded, mature individuals who are capable of working in a team and taking responsibility, and can do so with social ease.

Scotland has an extremely high average in terms of what is available in talent and in maturity, not only in age and experience but also in the social aspects of work;  how people deal with colleagues and the ease with which teams work together. In my experience there is very little drama, for want of a better word. That is what I appreciate about Edinburgh; people have an excellent level of education, they get stuff done, they work well in a team and they just get on with it. In terms of the culture, perhaps it’s the national culture; it is more suited to building teams who work hard and get projects done. As our industry matures and moves less from research and more into development, Edinburgh is a great step for indie Semiconductor.

Talk to me about recruitment plans for indie Semiconductor?

Totalling a team of around 40 people at the moment, we are going through an aggressive planning and growth phase between Scotland and California. We are hoping to recruit about 10 more people ranging from graduates to senior level engineers, but the focus is on the side of seniority at this point.

The requirement is for people who can work autonomously, drive their own projects and don’t require too much management. There must however be a balance of people who can motivate and coach junior level engineers and still work productively. The soft skills of an individual are just as important as technical skill, especially to keep a good atmosphere in a small company.

What can indie Semiconductor offer to Scottish Engineers?

Aside from competitive salaries, there is the opportunity to be a part of something small that is growing very fast, and to be a significant player in a small pool. This is an environment where your individual contribution can make a really big difference for the company and for yourself. There aren’t very many places where you can enjoy that – most startups in Edinburgh have become subsidiaries of bigger companies.

The office is very centrally based in St Andrew Square for ease of travel, but also to be part of the vibrant city centre. indie is a fun, exciting place to work, growing fast, with an alternative business model to traditional semiconductor companies. Projects come to fruition quickly, and the variety in the work is something I enjoy very much. Our engineering teams are close to our customers and directly interact. When I was an engineer that was something I found very motivating and fulfilling, seeing the customer really value the end product. This is something you don’t often get to enjoy if you are working in a large conglomerate, where you can often work on a project for 5 years and never see it come to fruition. Most of the good engineers I have met over my career are motivated by making a difference and indie is a place where you can make a real difference.

If you are interested in joining the indie Semiconductor team in Edinburgh or California then contact Ben Hanley on + 44 141 332 4422 or email indiesemi@enigmapeople.com.

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Posted September 30, 2014 | Industry Interviews, Scotland, Software | 2 Comments »

Developing The Times

Enigma People Solutions spoke to Grant Gibson, Digital Innovation Manager for The Herald & Times Group, on their digital innovation and their search for a developer.
Grant Gibson, Digital Innovation Manager for The Herald & Times GroupHi Grant! Tell us a bit about The Herald Scotland and the digital innovations you have coming up?

It’s been a big year for the Herald Scotland. Thanks to big events in the country such as the Commonwealth Games, The Scottish Referendum and the Ryder Cup The Herald Scotland website has seen an incredible increase in traffic.

During the Scottish Referendum traffic to the website has doubled and it seems to still be continuing in its aftermath. In one month alone we have had 1 thousand new subscriptions, an increase of 10% in subscription rates.

The focus for us is the paywall system for these subscriptions and the security around it. Readers are required to register their details to receive their 6 free articles and the different subscription options across web, mobile and tablet has worked well in capturing subscriptions.

How do you translate a traditional newspaper to a digital offering?

For a digital business, their customer base does tend to be more tech savvy individuals, however a big challenge for The Herald Scotland is having such a diverse target audience. This does include an older generation who are not always comfortable with new technologies, and helping such individuals with accessing the technology is key. The Herald Scotland offer an excellent telephone service to help with phone subscriptions, offering support across different devices; tablets, iPads, Kindles, Smartphone’s, and across different platforms. This also means having a responsive design across devices/platforms for the best user experience.

You have recently recruited a PHP Developer, what do you look for when hiring a developer?

The challenge for a developer coming into the role is managing scale, and being able to manage the level of traffic which is coming in, and reacting to this traffic sometimes doubling over night. When interviewing what we look for, apart from the obvious skills, is having this experience of scaling things up.

What is also important is the ability to take over somebody else’s previous code. The Herald Scotland’s archive dates back to 1989 with over 1 million articles, and what we look for is somebody who won’t just rewrite the code, but somebody who can understand it and improve it.

Keeping up to date with the latest digital trends/news and asking candidates views on these also helps to provide insight on the individual. As does asking about what freelance projects they are involved in, such as building their own websites, during their free time. This indicates a passion for the skills and is seen to be a big positive when hiring.

Enigma People Solutions is proud to be supporting the upcoming Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards on 23rd October 2014! For full details of the awards visit: http://herald-events.com/digitalawards/

For the latest IT and Digital vacancies in Scotland follow Enigma People Solutions on LinkedIn and Twitter @enigmapeople

Enigma People Solutions - The Herald Digital Business Awards 2014

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Posted July 29, 2014 | Digital Media, Industry Interviews, Software, Technology Industry, Women in Technology | 2 Comments »

Spotlight on Solus: the technology transforming our libraries

Spotlight on Solus: the technology transforming our libraries

When you think of Libraries, what is the first thing to come into your mind? Books? What place do books have in this digital age I hear you ask? Well thanks to Glasgow based digital communication experts, Solus, this perception is quickly changing. Recruiting for the digital media market in Scotland, we are impressed with how Solus’s digital solutions have pioneered the technology which is transforming traditional libraries into digital community hubs, allowing libraries to meet the demands of our 24/7 instant information culture.

I spoke to Liz McGettigan, Head of Digital Experiences and Strategy at Solus, about their innovative digital solutions and how they are changing the role of libraries within the technological bubble that we all live in.

Liz’s impressive career included Head of Library and Information Services at City of Edinburgh Library and Information Services, where her passion for technology quickly gained her a reputation for making things happen (demonstrated by her pioneering the introduction of social media to the library!) Liz’s hunger for innovation meant she was fascinated by the strategic uses of technology and what problems it could solve, which after all is the point of technology isn’t it? Rather than getting bogged down with the schematics of the technology, Liz preferred to focus on what it can achieve and what needs could be met. With this frame of mind Liz recognised a gap in the library market and approached Solus to design the highly successful Library App in 2009/10. This was one key element which contributed to the service gaining Best UK Library and Information Service Award in 2012.App edinburgh

The app is the first of its kind and has changed how users engage with library services, allowing e-downloads of books to various devices or just quick and easy online access to the library services. The product isn’t an ordinary app, it is sophisticated in that it links all the back end systems to account management and catalogue search, allowing users to search and hold books from their devices. It has been so successful that Solus have rolled it out to libraries all over the UK, allowing them to be branded as desired.

Of course nowadays, having an app for your product or service is the norm however 5 years ago this was a rather innovative move facilitated by Liz, and especially in the Library market this was unheard of. As we know, the app market has grown at an incredible pace, but as little as 5 years ago this could be seen as a highly innovative move to recognise this gap in the library market and to fill this gap preceding the surge in app demand from all markets and industries now.

Following development of the Library App, Solus established a rapid growth in the libraries division and it has subsequently grown a large product portfolio on the back of integration with library management systems suppliers, helping Solus to achieve 40% of the UK Library market, setting standards for competitors and pioneering the quality and service of libraries and helping drive the development of SOLUS into a world-leading global library brand.

Solus’s solutions work hard to pull not just libraries into the digital age but all sorts of public services. From their augmented reality digital Mythical Maze app helping over a million children brush up on their reading skills during the summer holidays to working with Glasgow’s Caledonian University Library, revolutionising how students make use of their library service. For Solus, the future of libraries is very much going to be globally interactive. Liz believes that “the future of libraries is so not about books, nor has it ever been. It’s about people, place and technology. A place for digital learning, for people to come together and for the digital inclusion of everybody by offering them free access to technology.”

Solus’s digital solutions are inspirational to all Scottish Businesses, having received unprecedented global demand for their products from suppliers and partners wishing to introduce them to their public services.  Their digital solutions have changed how libraries in the UK are being perceived and changing how we interact with them as digital hubs offering access to exciting and essential technologies.

Interested in working with Solus? Get in touch with Liz below:
Twitter @lizmcgettigan
lizmcgettigan@solus.co.uk

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Posted June 24, 2014 | Industry Interviews, Scotland, Software | 3 Comments »

[INTERVIEW] We Ask xDesign What’s App-ning in Edinburgh?

With the news that tech jobs in Edinburgh offer the second highest salary in the UK, I was keen to find out more about the exciting mobile web and app market which makes up such a large part of this successful industry. I spoke with Euan Andrews, founder and director of xDesign, the Edinburgh based, award winning mobile application developers, on his take on the market and what trends he sees on the horizon.

Hi Euan! Firstly, tell us a little about the growing success of xDesign in Edinburgh?
Euan Andrews - Xdesign Edinburgh - Award winning mobile solutions

The mobile market is growing at an exceptional pace and not just in Edinburgh. We receive enquiries from customers across the UK and further afield on a daily basis. Since our rebrand to xDesign we have found more and more businesses looking not just for an app developer; but for a company one who can develop a product or solution from them.

Most recently we have been working with an excellent start up called PocketFM based here in Edinburgh. Having developed their initial iPhone application they secured a significant round of funding and now improving their iPhone application and just recently commissioned an Android application.

We have the joys of working with a huge range of companies from startups to cultural organisations to bluechip companies. Having recently won work with one of Scotland’s most well- known and successful start up; we’re going from strength to strength.

As our profile continues to increase as does the staff count; we have recently hired a number of new developers as well as expanding our management team.

I have seen some debate that adaptive and responsive design now means that mobile web sites can offer the same features as apps, making apps unnecessary. What’s your take on this?

Mobile websites are great and they provide the functionality that many need – displaying information. However when you start to go beyond that, the limitations of web apps or responsive sites can clearly be seen.

There is no such thing as offline support – if you lose signal or data then say goodbye to your session! If you want to interact with hardware on the phone you’re very limited in what you can do and it depends on each platform.

Mobile apps will continue to grow as people continue to invent new ideas or processes that require real time information about people, locations or interact with different technology for example.

There are many cases were a mobile app is not suitable and we will not shy away from explaining to a potential customer why that is the case.

What other trends do you see emerging in the web/ app/ mobile industry?

Wearable technology is the obvious one with Google Glass released in the UK yesterday albeit with a price tag of £1,000 on it – whilst it has been suggested this price is to keep the general public away from it. I am sure we will start to see people wearing them in the street.

Health and fitness have been a big part of mobile apps for the last year or so and it looks like the creation of wearable technology will continue to boost that. Apple released details of iOS8 which will include their HealthKit which will allow third party apps to integrate into your health centre so have a central point of information. Whilst there are some privacy issues that will undoubtedly crop up it certainly is a really interesting time for not only wearable technology but mobile technology also.

Euan Andrews - Xdesign Edinburgh - Award winning mobile solutions

Interested in working for xDesign? They are currently recruiting for an Android Developer on a contract basis, if you would like to apply then click here for the full job spec or for more information!  

What other exciting things are happening in the UK technology sector?

For more technology news be sure to check out our Enigma Weekly Roundup! Do you work within the thriving Edinburgh tech community? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the success of the industry, get in touch: hello@enigmapeople.com. For the latest technology industry news, updates and vacancies follow Enigma People Solutions on LinkedIn and Twitter @enigmapeople.

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Posted May 27, 2014 | Digital Media, Events, Industry Interviews, Scotland | 1 Comment »

D14 – Inspiring Digital Business at Glasgow’s SECC

D14 - Inspiring Digital Business at Glasgow’s SECC

If you are involved in Scotland’s thriving Digital sector then I am sure you will have heard of the D14 Summit on the 29th and 30th May. If not then listen up, as this is an event at Glasgow’s SECC you won’t want to miss!

This is the 4th year of the event which inspires digital businesses and connects them with the opportunities for innovation and expansion. I caught up with Alisdair Gunn, Project Director at Interactive Scotland. Alisdair has been an integral part of organising these fantastic events since day one and told me a little more about the day.

How has the event grown?

This year’s event has grown to include 9 main session speakers and
over 20 studio session speakers & panel members, quite a vast growth from the first year.

Alisdair has seen a significant growth and engagement coming through from the digital sector in Scotland since the event first began and now incorporates 4 different key markets of Retailing, Digital Health and Care, Education & Financial Services. These key markets will shape the day in keynote presentations, studio sessions, networking and an interactive showcase.

What is the focus for this year?

This year the key aspect is the growth in the sectors. Digital media and the tech industry are transforming our marketplaces. This year’s focus will debate the issues impacting digital businesses and offering fresh perspectives on identifying opportunities for business in this rapidly evolving sector.

The two key objectives for D14 are:

  1. Debate and address the strategic issues impacting businesses as well as identifying the opportunities for companies designing, innovating and adopting the opportunities for – and from – the digital sector; and
  2. Open channels to the world’s digital pioneers, creating new connections and business opportunities for our community.

The D14 summit is an ongoing journey for those involved and a lot has been done in preparation for the event. It brings together the 4 pre summit sessions held in order to link together the heads of digital with the buyers of digital, identify and discuss key issues in the market, assimilate common points from the industry and shape the thought leadership in preparation for the main event. The D14 summit is a collaborative effort to bring all of this together.

How does the event help businesses and facilitate growth and opportunity?

The event is about linking the digital businesses in the sector to facilitate growth and to recognise and develop opportunities for expansion on national and international levels.

Alisdair says there are 4 key questions we want everyone to think about:

  1. What does the future (5yrs) look like for the Digital Sector and how will this impact the 4 key markets: Retailing, Digital Health and Care, Education & Financial Services
  2. What will that mean for digital ‘suppliers’?
  3. How will it affect their business and resourcing models?
  4. What will the interactions between digital adopters and digital ‘suppliers’ need to be like?

The event is an opportunity to learn more about what digital can offer you as a business. If you work within the digital sector or are interested in knowing what’s going on, the event will give you the chance to learn from internationally known key players in the digital sector and share your views and ideas with like minded people.

From recruiting for the most innovative and exciting digital agencies in Scotland to annual sponsorship of the Herald Scotland Digital Business Awards, digital is such a big part of what we do at Enigma People Solutions. This event in particular will prove to be exciting and informative and one I would urge anybody wanting to know more and creative and digital industries to come along!

For tickets and more information on the event visit www.d14.org.uk.

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Posted May 12, 2014 | Industry Interviews, Scotland | 2 Comments »

[INTERVIEW] Chris de Vere on the Evolution of Sales

Just like everything else in our lives, technology has changed the role of the sales team. Growth of the internet and technology has changed how people absorb information and interact. Customers are now empowered with more information than ever before and this has changed the role of the sales professional from solution provider to information enabler. They must now be able to offer something other than a solution; they must create value, challenge thinking and educate the customer in order to remain competitive. If businesses in Scotland are to compete on an international level this is something they too must adapt to and teach their sales teams.

Chris de Vere on the Evolution of Sales

I spoke to Chris de Vere, a sales leader with over 20 years experience in the technology sector, about the evolution of the sales role and what Scotland needs to do to stay competitive.

The Evolution of Sales

According to Chris, the art of selling hasn’t fundamentally changed, it is the world around us that has changed and it is the sales methodology that must adapt to keep up.

“The old sales tactics have little impact anymore. The world has changed and we must change with it. It is of utmost importance that sales directors and MD’s take this into account.”

Sales has come a long way since the days of consultative selling using methodologies such as SPIN. Old tactics worked well in the past when sales was seen as a dark art and 6 figure salaries were made predominantly by who your contacts were and how you utilised these. This was when relationships mattered most, where networking and who you knew was enough to make you successful. Sales people were empowered with all the information and therefore able to sell a solution for their clients’ problems.

Essentially the roles have now reversed. Relationships are still important and consultative selling still has its place, however people now have access to more sources of knowledge than they did in the past. With the use of the internet, customers have 20% more information on a company than 5 years ago, and this figure is growing. They have the internet, networking, discussion groups, online reviews, all allowing them to easily exchange and digest information. This means that customers will do their homework before they engage with you, and as a result are much more demanding of solutions to their problems. They don’t want to just be sold a product and won’t settle for just a nice sales man (or woman). Rather they very often already know what they want, and prefer to cut to the chase with not much more for the salesperson to do than negotiate the price.

This is why consultative selling doesn’t work; it doesn’t get to the root of a problem. People are now very often 60-70% into the buying process before they even talk to a sales person. Largely, their preconceived ideas have already been formed and decisions made through their own research, marketing and advertising. People make emotional decisions and then rationalise them –A perfect example of this is car buying, otherwise all cars would be the same (Although we want the car as a form of transport, we then make an emotional decision on what type of car we want that says something about us, before rationalising it to justify our emotional decision). This is why relationship building still has its place. Today’s sales process is no different – people make emotional decisions based on emotions felt with the marketing and advertising of the product/service, and then engage with the sales person who in turn can emotionally influence the customer.

This is precisely where the role of sales has transformed, sales around the world has become a lot more structured and scientifically advanced.  Where just being nice and having a good rapport with a client no longer means you will be remembered after a meeting or get the order. With the customer being empowered with all the information and knowledge they feel they require, sales must offer them something else.

Chris believes “If you don’t challenge someone’s thinking, add value or insight you will not be remembered.”

Scottish Businesses

In Chris’s experience Sales in Scotland, is still very much focussed on the contacts led ‘little black book’ approach, where emphasis is placed on networking and the relationship – who you know and not what you know. This might still be fine when businesses are only working locally. However in this global economy nobody is safe from international competition.

Buyers now have more information and have less tolerance for old sales approaches and in this sense Scottish businesses are behind the rest of the world. With the independence referendum coming up fast, Scotland could be on the same playing field as America and China as an independent nation and old thinking isn’t going to be competitive internationally.

Chris believes that this is a challenge that can be seen throughout the UK, with the exception of a few innovative companies who are embracing change. It is human nature to be adverse to change and therefore we often avoid challenging the status quo and persuade ourselves that we can’t change creating false barriers which hinder efforts to be agile, responsive to the markets and adapt with the times. The potential is great. Scotland has a lot of great companies who have grown organically to be sizeable market players. However with organic growth comes all the legacy bad practices that companies develop over time. For those companies, established practices would benefit from sales processes, structure and automation to bring more customers to them. Beyond this however, Chris firmly believes Scotland has a long history of invention and innovation and should seize the opportunity to embrace world class sales best practices and become a world leader transforming its sales teams and its potential competitiveness.

What needs to be done?

Sales transformation is defined as the need to ‘move from being perceived as an Approved Vendor to being viewed as a Trusted Advisor/Partner’, in order to gain market share and protect/grow existing customer relationships.

What that comes down to, is training your sales teams so they can teach and add value to their clients and become the trusted advisor. Companies need to address this and transform their sales process accordingly. For some sales professionals this sales transformation process comes naturally; however just training is not enough. With training people forget most of what they have learned within a month and slip back into old habits, performance coaching delivers a more permanent and tangible result.

Chris tells me that there are 3 general groups in sales teams: under performers, core performers and high performers. The high performers are those who adapt their sales techniques naturally. The ones to focus on where you can inflect a performance upturn are the under performers and core performers. With the right mentoring and coaching, continuous analysis and tangible performance reviews it is the under performers and core performers who Chris has seen achieve up to a 7% inflection on performance and go on to become high performers.

Only with the continuous performance management, quantifying results and reviewing the processes can sales teams effectively go out to the market and compete.

The role of sales has now become an enabler, facilitator, teacher and advisor and in order to do this, sales must challenge their clients thinking without alienating them. They must teach customers about the market, share insights and tell them something they didn’t already know. It’s no longer about the product or service they are trying to sell but about listening to their problems and tailoring solutions to fit them.  The key thing to remember here is that they must lead the customer to the solution and not lead with the solution.

To put this all into context, the role of the sales has transformed with the consumer becoming more empowered in the decision making process. Sales must now offer something of value, challenge thinking and teach the clients something in order to win their trust. The relationship factor is still important however those who still believe this is all that matters in sales will get left behind in the competitive global race. Scottish businesses must do more to transform their sales teams if they are to have a chance in the running.

Chris de Vere Biography

Chris has 20+ years experience in sales and marketing, and has held senior leadership positions with some of the world’s most innovative companies. Specialising in sales and marketing team performance, improvement, change management and driving growth into new markets. Chris is available for consulting contracts and opportunities in Scotland, and you can get in touch with Chris via LinkedIn.

For our latest vacancies, industry news and updates Follow Enigma People Solutions on LinkedIn and Twitter @enigmapeople

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Posted December 04, 2013 | Digital Media, Industry Interviews, Social Media Recruiting | 2 Comments »

[INTERVIEW] Enigma Gets Social With Equator and Barrhead Travel

You wouldn’t be blamed for believing that Social Media is slowly taking over the world, one platform at a time. Done correctly, it is a fantastic tool to engage with one another, with businesses, public figures and even with our grannies (yes, apparently 22% of UK grandparents now use it to keep in touch!)

The problem with Social Media arises when business get it wrong, expecting high sales in return for pushing out mediocre content. Content is King, this is Social Media 101 and yet it’s amazing how many businesses can get it so wrong across various platforms. The sign up rate of Social Media sites is well documented but I wonder just how many people are leaving LinkedIn and Facebook every single day due to ill-targeted and irrelevant content bombarding their newsfeeds, connection requests from individuals they have no association with and spam messaging from businesses they have no interest in?

Is Social Media going down the same route as email marketing: engaging at first but now becoming information overload, where we have now become sick of an inbox inundated with useless emails and newsfeeds full of fluff?

Is Social Media becoming just too saturated to still be useful? Or is it more imperative now more than ever to invest in a Social Media Strategy to rise above the rest?

Capturing audience’s attention on Social Media is harder now than ever before. This highlights the importance of businesses devising the right Social Media Strategy and targeting the right content (to the right people) in order to make their audiences stand up and listen. Social Media is also a two way street and many businesses forget this. It’s just as important to stand back, listen to your followers as individuals, have conversations with them and just get to know them. Wasn’t this the point of social media in the first place?

We spoke to Herald Digital Business Award’s Agency of the Year Equator and the UK’s No. 1 Online Travel Agent Barrhead Travel about their successful use of Social Media.

David ShirraDavid Shirra, Marketing and E-Commerce Director at Barrhead Travel:

Like many other business you have invested in your Social Media strategy. How important is the right use Social Media to your business?

The right Social Media application is important in so many ways. Above all else social media allows both Barrhead Travel to connect with customers, and our customers connect with us which is the beauty of the channel however, with that two way dialogue we need to consider both what our customers want to see & hear, and listen to what our customers say.

Trading in an industry as emotive as travel, social media is such a complementary medium. At Barrhead Travel, we promote destinations, services and campaigns as well as consider social media as important vehicle for reputation management.

It is argued that people are turning off to social media marketing, that certain platforms are becoming too saturated with irrelevant content. Would you agree with this notion?

I believe like any communication channel, an inappropriate use drives channel fatigue; much like email before subscription centres and segmentation. For me, we are just beginning our social journey at Barrhead Travel and it is am imperative to ensure the content we broadcast is targeted, relevant and fresh; our engagement stats will answer your question in time.

What do you see next for Social Media, do you think platforms will continue to get bigger and better? Or will they be replaced with other forms of Digital Media Marketing?

I see greater access to insight, and an even greater requirement to segment as more advertisers on-board into social platforms. As ever, there are lots of new technologies emerging however, I would only consider adopting if they are considered complementary to our audience.

Gerry CampbellGerry Campbell, Business Development Manager at Equator:

Social media has had a big impact on the Digital Media Industry; tell us you have seen it grow to become an integral part of your business?

Social media is evolving every day and it now, more than ever, plays a very big part in SEO… no longer is about how many ‘like’s we can get or how many ‘retweets’… its about content… good… no GREAT content!

What Social Media has become now is a necessity and not just a play thing for the poor marketing executive or office junior to ‘talk to these folk… get them to ‘like’ us’! Social Media, as part of your Digital Marketing strategy, it is no longer a ‘we really should have’ thought but a ‘ we really must have’.

Businesses are now aware that they need to integrate their social media behaviour with their content strategy, and are already seeing the benefits of social media in terms of engagement, interaction, and ultimately sales.

After all that is what its all about… the money, money, money!

Do you believe certain social media platforms have become saturated and are people turning off to it?

I believe that people and businesses now, more than ever, have a platform strategy..: or they should! Gone are the days were “being everywhere” was the common approach to social media, only to find that in reality, unless it is engaging and thought through, is very rarely effective.

This applies especially for businesses that are trying to get traffic to their website… the content has to be engaging and get the customer excited enough for them to read and share… isnt that what it is all about?

How do you think businesses can achieve the right balance for effective use of Social Media?

Businesses should be strategically deciding what platforms are going to be, in the long run, the most effective for them and delivers the best ROI. The best thought through strategy should almost certainly take into account the social behaviors of their target audience. By doing this they will have the best chance of success… finding out about their target audience… how do they want to engage? are they video lovers? are they G+ers or Facebook addicts?

What are your predictions on social media, do you see the social media bubble bursting?

I see it evolving and becoming more targeted. Not bursting. I see it becoming better and less chaotic… and it being more targeted and focused.

As businesses evolve and get more confident about their Digital Marketing strategy they will begin to see instantaneous results and measurable ROI’s. As said before they will spare the marketing executive or office intern from being their social media Guru’s and employ dedicated social media managers or outsource strategists.

Businesses need to spend their time online engaging and interacting with followers making them become Brand Ambassadors generating social interaction and delivering business success beyond SEO.

Don’t forget to follow Enigma People Solutions on LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news, vacancies, and industry updates…

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Posted August 12, 2013 | Contracting, For Freelancers, Industry Interviews, Software | 2 Comments »

[INTERVIEW] Phil Leggetter on Developing, Contracting and Evangelising

Hello, Phil! First, tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

My name is Phil Leggetter. I graduated from the University of Stirling back in 2001 with a degree in Software Engineering. Since then I’ve worked for a few companies including Caplin Systems, ESRI, Bigmouthmedia and Pusher. I presently have a permanent role back at Caplin Systems and run my own company, through which I do occasional realtime web consultancy work. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this via remote working from my garden office in Clackmannanshire.

Phil Leggetter on Developing, Contracting and Evangelising

My last two roles have come under the title of “Developer Evangelist”. I create demos, write tutorials, author screencasts, run workshops, give talks at events, facilitate hackathons, write content for destinations such as Smashing Magazine, .net magazine, on my own blog and have recently co-authored a book (Realtime Web Apps). Companies such as Twilio class this role as marketing – and it probably is – but it’s a technical marketing role with a reasonable amount of development and a hint of product management.

I think my situation reflects a change for a lot of developers who have to be aware of much more than just technical details; they have to market themselves, their applications and in many cases they are the ones being enterprising and running the businesses.

When you first started as a developer, did you relish in contract work or were you always looking for a permanent position?

The market has changed a lot since 2001. Back then I was just pleased to get any job.

Now there’s much more demand for developers from large institutions to individuals looking to hire for technical solutions to problems they have. Not to mention that every company seems to want an “App”.

So the choices when coming out of University – or leaving high school – are contract jobs, permanent jobs or creating and running your own product or service. A lot of University graduates definitely have the skills to do the latter now.

Do you think that contract work is beneficial for developers, or should companies take more people on permanent contracts?

As above, I really think it depends on the individual. Some prefer the apparent security of a permanent role whilst others are confident enough to believe they’ll get contract after contract, along with the associated higher rates to compensate lack of company benefits (holidays, pension contributions etc.).

The problem that I see with permanent roles at the moment is that some of them don’t offer the flexibility and opportunities to learn that different contracting opportunities do. This can be even why developers who are in permanent roles can change their jobs reasonably frequently.

If companies are looking to attract developers into permanent roles then I feel they need to offer flexibility of role, working conditions, location, technology, and plenty of learning opportunities.

Do you feel that the industry is in a position of growth at the moment?

Yes, and it has been for at least the past two years. At almost every event I go to nearly every company will be hiring.

What important developments do you see coming up in software development and the industry?

Mobile and web are going to continue to grow. And more established industries are going to continue the adoption of these technologies along with more recently developed technology platforms. This won’t result in a 100% swing away from established development technologies like .NET and Java, but it will mean that the demand for Ruby and Node.js (JavaScript) developers – and for those with knowledge in open source stacks built on these – will increase in areas outside of the startup scene.

What skills do young developers need to be learning in order to enter a level playing field when starting work?

Based on my experience working for a London Startup for the past couple of years, young developers need to be able to demonstrate that they already know how to build applications. They should have a portfolio of apps and creations; probably in github. The real point here is that it proves they are genuinely interested in programming. The ability to demonstrate an ability to write well structured and tested code is increasingly important and a knowledge of agile working practices can also be very beneficial.

Larger “industry” companies probably put less emphasis on actual creations and still put a high value on certificates and accreditation; diplomas, degrees and awards. But being able to demonstrate you can write reasonable code and follow good practices will also be important.

No matter where you work I think it’s important to have a passion for what you do. Now is a great time to be a developer as you have the opportunity to take a role that will be enjoyable and challenging. I feel it’s a very different playing field from the one I saw when I got my first job.

What are any problems you can see arising that will need to be solved?

I’ve been surprised over the past few years by some very successful contractors that I know moving to permanent roles. However, these developers have both been over 30, have families and have taken highly influential roles within the companies they’ve joined. I do wonder if this is a trend which may result in contractors tending to be younger and permanent employees being older? The only problems with this is that I think there is benefit in having a range of ages within a team and company to ensure different views, experience, influences and ideas are expressed.

In the circles I’ve recently been in there’s no doubt that the good developers are also entrepreneurial. This tends to mean that contracting with a view to building their own company is a strong possibility. For a company to be able to hire these developers they need to offer compelling reasons; an interesting product or service, good working conditions and benefits, and potentially stock options.

With the economy still struggling in places it’s strange to be in the technology bubble where opportunities are aplenty. But, don’t take this for granted as things may change. For now: work hard, be creative, learn, share knowledge and build relationships.

Connect with Phil on Twitter, and remember you can find Enigma People Solutions on Twitter @enigmapeople!

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