Why Manchester is the perfect place for your next job in tech
26 June 2019
We chat to fast-growing startup ResponseTap about the rise of the northern tech hub and attracting the best talent for it.
There aren’t many UK cities that could command a list of its 100 best tech companies — but Manchester can.
Manchester is a great place to work and live — that’s according to Karl Considine, Head of People and Culture at ResponseTap, a Manchester-based company that’s one of the fastest-growing tech firms in the north.
Founded in 2008, it employs more than 70 staff in Manchester, giving organisations as diverse as Hiscox and Go Ape a better understanding of digital campaigns, and how they follow through to sales.
Talentful sat down with Karl and some of the ResponseTap team to find out why tech’s best talent should up sticks and head to the capital of the north.
Reason 1: There’s a strong tech community
“I love Manchester,” Karl says. A Yorkshireman by birth, he’s lived in the region for eight years. Despite a long stint in the buzz of London, Karl believes Manchester is one of the best cities in the UK.
“It has a heartbeat — the city feels like a family, like a community,” he says. “You get to know people because it’s a much smaller network.”
Still, that network is rapidly expanding, with the Manchester Evening News reporting the number of tech startups in the region has doubled in the last year.
“It’s got lots of startups” says marketing manager Lucy Hardaker, “so there’s lots of opportunity, and exciting businesses doing exciting things.”
“The technology that ResponseTap has, for example, is cutting edge — we’re at the top of our game,” says Karl. “And that really aligns with Manchester — there’s a lot that’s creative and really different.”
Reason 2: Because smaller can be better
While there might be a few high-profile companies setting up base in the city — the BBC and ITV for starters — the vast majority of players are still on the smaller end of the SME spectrum.
“Sometimes [bigger companies] can offer more in terms of compensation and benefits,” Karl explains. “So we have to focus on culture. What kind of people are we trying to attract? And what are the good things about working in a small company?”
For the team, the chance to work across the business is a considerable plus. “You get involved with projects you wouldn’t get an opportunity to at a larger company, like where I worked previously,” says account executive Amy Watkins. “Now I’m involved with marketing, with the product team, with finance — you learn more and progress quicker as a result.”
Lucy agrees: “You don’t feel like a cog in a machine here. You feel like your role is important, even if you’re doing something small.”
Reason 3: It’s a destination for emerging talent
If you’re just starting out in the tech sector and want to find that perfect first or second role, a move to the north-west may well be the answer.
ResponseTap frequently sources local talent; its strategy is to “just get out there.” Working with Talentful is one part of the plan to increase viability, says Karl. The team also attends more events and meet-ups, talking about who they are and what they do, and building the brand.
Again, the key appeal for candidates in ResponseTap and other growing tech businesses in the city is the ability to learn on the job. Sales manager Oyin Bamgbose says, “If you come straight out of uni and into a startup, it’ll give you exposure to so many different things; it’s like being in that learning environment all over again.”
Reason 4: Because diversity is a focus
It’s well reported that there’s a worrying lack of diversity in technology, with almost two-thirds of boards in the sector having no female representation at all. In Manchester, they’re addressing it.
Schemes encouraging young women into tech already exist in the city, Karl says. One company, UKFast, has partnered with Manchester High School for Girls in an attempt to tackle the gender gap in the industry — and it’s schemes like this with which ResponseTap is jumping on board.
Having a diverse team is beneficial to employees too, and might even help boost your pay packet — diverse companies produce 19% more revenue according to Forbes. For Karl, a mixed team makes for a productive, happy environment. “Ensuring we employ a broad spread of characters, backgrounds and skills so that we have a really creative environment.”
Reason 5: Because why not?
“The biggest mistake I made earlier in my career was being too hesitant,” says Karl. “If you want to make a difference and you want to get on, just be brave. Step off the cliff and take a leap!”
For London-born Oyin, making the move to Manchester was an easy decision. “I just fell in love with the city. You get more for your money, the quality of life is better, the air you breathe is less polluted, the people are a lot warmer than they are elsewhere… It’s just a great city.”
Talentful quickfire questions
We asked Karl a few on-the-spot questions…
The one thing you look for in a new hire?
Personality, through the interview process we want to see that a person has something to bring to ResponseTap that adds to our culture via their personality.
One surprising thing you do to keep a good work/life balance?
I split my day. I leave the office at a reasonable time rather than working really long hours, take exercise or see friends, then do a bit of work in the evening.
A buzzword in tech you can’t stand?
ResponseTap is not that corporate! You don’t often hear buzzwords here.
The most important ingredient to building a successful team?
A common goal. Everybody knows what we’re doing but also why we’re doing it.
The biggest barrier to finding great talent?
In Manchester? A lack of people actively looking to find a new role within our sector.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Be brave, take a leap, do what you want to do.
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