Insight into – James Naish, Head of Software and Key speaker at our Digital Event tomorrow
2 days to go until the 1st in our Insight Into event and we are proud to introduce another key speaker – James Naish, Head of Software at HH Global who will be sharing some of his considerable Tech & Business experience.
Please find out more about James and get your ticket below.
Tell us more about you – your current role and background?
As Head of Software Delivery at HH Global, I look after the function that is responsible globally for the delivery of bespoke and integrated technology solutions. HH Global is an ambitious marketing execution services business, delivering streamlined marketing productive to a host of clients that ranges from Exxon through Tommy Hilfiger and all the way to Google. Since joining the business in September 2016 my main focus has been on driving significant improvements in our development processes, ways of working, tooling and tech stacks. In particular, I am driving enterprise thinking when it comes to technology, encouraging other business leaders to think strategically about technology investments.
My career started at Mars Inc where I was a systems analyst with accountability for the technology that drove one of the factories. After identifying that our current tech platform was not built in a way that supported the lean manufacturing aims of the factory’s management, I initiated a year-long change project to re-engineer the existing applications into an agile tech platform that would support the rapid pace of change that was at the heart of the factory’s culture. Since then, I have been building on that experience working on multiple change programmes to support a range of business aims – some driven by cost efficiency, some by some by growth, some by consolidation of service lines. The overall theme of my career has been the re-alignment of development environments in various ways to enable businesses to meet their strategic goals.
What do you enjoy about working within technology and how have you seen the industry evolve?
The best thing about working in technology is the opportunity to create and innovate. Technology evolution is a high-speed game, and the constant challenge is to figure out how to apply the latest trends, technologies and best-practice to add commercial value to your organisation. I love working with passionate, talented teams and challenging them to figure out how to apply the latest tech and trends to add commercial value for our bosses.
The overarching trend that I’ve seen in the industry has been the evolution of best practice at all levels. When I was starting out in my career, different development teams tended to have very different ways of working and applied technology in very different ways. Today, Agile thinking is a mature discipline. Most teams are pushing towards some form of continuous delivery and are typically using the same tools to do it. The clouded, micro-service architecture is ubiquitous from SAP to Uber. This creates a great challenge for development teams: best practice is no longer good enough (because that’s what everyone else is doing) so how do you move beyond that to create competitive advantage?
What are some of the challenges you have experienced in attracting the best Tech talent in the North?
I’ve focused on owner-managed SMEs in my career. In that context, the biggest challenge is taking boards and senior management on a journey to help them understand what it takes to attract best-in-class tech talent. Salaries are higher than in most other parts of the business and the culture is typically very different, so there is a real need to build a convincing case to help senior management see the value in making the investment and – in some cases – being flexible around culture.
What advice would you give to anybody trying to get into/get ahead of the Industry?
Career planning is invaluable. Figure out where you want to be in five and ten years time. Focus on the activities you want to be doing every day and target roles where the responsibilities are aligned with those activities.
Identify where you are now and what you need to do to get to your five and ten year goals. This isn’t about job title. This is about your talents and experience. What are your core talents and how will these help you in five years time? What do you need to do to refine those talents to the level that will be required in your dream role?
Pick roles that will give you the opportunity to demonstrate the value that those talents can bring to an employer. Look to create measurable impact in your current role. That impact will be the experience that convinces a hiring manager to offer you the next step in your career path. Always hold out for the right role. If it doesn’t support your plan, don’t take the role.
What’s your relationship/experience with Insight?
I’ve now worked with Insight from both sides of the recruitment process. Insight secured my current role, and I’ve worked with them in my last two roles to help build my teams. Insight bring a customer-focused service, that is backed up with the highest quality in term of tech candidates and their understanding of the challenges of industry have made them an invaluable partner in recruitment.
When your not working, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m in the process of renovating an old care home. I’m also fairly musical – I play guitar and drums. Walks in the country are another big feature of my weekends (particularly if there’s chance of a decent cake along the way)!