CDS maps out the road ahead with aim to create 100 new jobs

A COMMUNICATIONS agency with a strong track record of working with public sector organisations is looking to add around 100 more jobs in the next few years.

man on a Mission: Chief executive Fergus Bailie wants CDS to become one of the top 100 companies to work for in the next three years. Picture: simon hulme

A COMMUNICATIONS agency with a strong track record of working with public sector organisations is looking to add around 100 more jobs in the next few years.

Leeds-based CDS counts the Ministry of Defence (MoD), National Rail and the Cabinet Office amongst its clients. The company is currently on a five-year roadmap, which it hopes will almost double turnover.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fergus Bailie, chief executive of CDS, told The Yorkshire Post: “We’re still planning and projecting growth into next year and beyond.

“We’re year one into a five-year plan, which is ultimately to double the size of the business again and to get us to £50m by 2020.”

CDS has already seen turnover jump from £15m three years ago to £27m this year.

Mr Bailie, who became chief executive of CDS in 2011, says that one of the main benefits of being based in Leeds city centre is the availability of talent.

“There’s good access to talent,” he said. “There’s a lot of talented individuals coming through the education system. There’s a willingness from people to learn. There is the Yorkshire work ethic.”

However, with Leeds’ technology sector burgeoning there is increased competition in attracting and retaining that talent.

Mr Bailie said: “It makes it harder to recruit talent. It creates an inflationary pressure on talent. To us that means you have to think more creatively about your own business. We’ve set ourselves a goal to be a top 100 company to work for in the next three years. Part of the reason to do that is to realise that in order to attract talent we have to be attractive ourselves.”

But CDS has an advantage when it comes to offering employees a fulfilling experience in the workplace.

Mr Bailie said: “We want people coming into work everyday and going home thinking that they have made a difference to people’s lives across the UK. That’s something we can offer that a lot of other agencies can’t.”

One of the company’s proudest moments was playing a role in helping deal with the ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

“We worked on a project last year which was about the deployment of learning technology to help the army fight ebola in Sierra Leone,” Mr Bailie said.

He added: “We had to deploy a team with very short notice to work and shoot instructional videos that were going to be used in theatre in Sierra Leone to train people who were being sent there to fight the ebola virus.”

As information on how to fight the ebola virus was changing everyday, CDS created a virtual learning environment to help those who had been deployed to tackle the outbreak.

Mr Bailie said: “That’s something that everybody can walk out of the office with their head held high. That’s our proudest achievement.

“Certainly, my proudest achievement here since I’ve been chief executive.”

Working with the likes of the MoD means that security is paramount when developing content.

“All of our staff are security cleared. All of our systems and networks are secured and tested,” says Mr Bailie.

The firm is also ISO certified for information security. There are also instances where they have to set up “discreet development environments” where only people who have been vetted for the project work on it.

Company that can trace its print heritage back to 1862

CDS is owned by the Baird Group based in Northern Ireland.

Fergus Bailie’s father is the chairman of the group, which alongside CDS also owns automotive digital agency Newspress and a publishing company called Blackstaff press.

The company traces its heritage to 1862, when it was a print company known as W&G Baird.

It acquired CDS in around 2001. The group also acquired Cheltenham Technical Publications, which today forms CDS’s defence support division.

CDS employs 250 staff of which 100 are based in Leeds and around 70 based in Cheltenham. The rest of the staff are based on or near its client’s premises.

Mr Bailie says: “All the software development work is done in Leeds. All our techies are based in Leeds.”

Along with software development and digital content CDS also does print management.