Why Covid has led to a rise in demand for tech talent - CEO of BigChange in Leeds

Demand for talent in the tech sector has ramped up as a result of many businesses switching their focus to technology in a bid to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, according to the new chief executive of software firm BigChange.

Richard Warley, pictured, has swapped roles at the Leeds-based business with founder Martin Port, who has become chairman of BigChange.
Richard Warley, pictured, has swapped roles at the Leeds-based business with founder Martin Port, who has become chairman of BigChange.

Richard Warley has swapped roles at the Leeds-based business with founder Martin Port, who has become chairman of BigChange.

The firm’s technology helps with job scheduling, customer invoicing and payments automation, mobile workforce management, and client engagement.

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Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Warley said: “We are a technology company at heart and we need to continue to attract the highest level of tech talent, certainly in the Leeds area but across the UK as well.

Richard Warley initially joined as chairman after GHP invested in the business in February.

“One of the things that the pandemic has done is really accelerated every firm’s focus on tech because tech has been the way that we have dealt with the pandemic.

“The demand for the types of talent that we have is going up. It’s something that we focus a lot on.”

BigChange, which currently has 210 employees, secured over £75m in investment from Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners (GHP) in February.

The Leeds-based tech firm is looking to accelerate growth and become a tech unicorn with a valuation of £1bn.

Mr Warley, who initially joined as chairman after the GHP investment, said: “One of our objectives is to be the home for outstanding talent. We believe that it already is an amazing place to come and work.

“We really want this to be one of the leading lights in the industry that people want to come and work for. Retaining and growing that talent is absolutely critical for our future growth.”

A trend that tech companies in the region are increasingly seeing is that of firms from other parts of the world offering opportunities to talent through remote working.

Mr Warley said: “What we have seen is that the job market is no longer a regional job market. That’s got two sides to it. It means for tech talent in the Leeds region, anyone in the world can access that talent.

“That creates competition for us but the flipside of this for us is we can also recruit and we’re comfortable recruiting people who aren’t in the Leeds area.

“At the end of the day it’s a very healthy thing for our economy and for our society that we have been freed to an extent from geographic constraints – both employers and employees have been freed from those constraints.”

BigChange has continued its upward trajectory throughout the pandemic with more businesses recognising the need for increased efficiency.

“Our customer base, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises with field service workers, have all got a lot of work and they’re looking to grow,” Mr Warley said.

No change in direction of business

Swapping the position of chairman for chief executive won’t change the direction of the business, Richard Warley says.

His focus will now be more on the day-to-day tasks while Martin Port, who remains a “significant” shareholder, will focus on the “entrepreneurial” elements he brings to the business that he founded in 2012.

Mr Warley said: “We’ve both got very complementary skills and we’re working really closely as a team. It’s just a reallocation of the responsibilities.

“Martin is remaining fully engaged in the business.”

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