Alan Laing, Managing Director, Sage UK and Ireland

1. Please tell us a bit about Sage
Sage was born and built in Newcastle in 1981. From a start-up, it has grown into one the largest business software companies in the World – and one of the largest tech companies in Europe, headquartered from here in the UK, with offices globally. We have 13,000 colleagues, serving three million business owners across the globe. Our mission, is to free business builders from the burden of admin, through so they can spend more time doing what they love. We help them manage everything from money to people – whether they’re a start-up, scale-up or enterprise. We do this through Sage Business Cloud – a business management solution that customers will ever need, comprising Accounting, Financials, Enterprise Management, People & Payroll and Payments & Banking.

2. What type of tech talent does Sage look to hire in Newcastle?
Passion for great tech and a real customer focus are the two key asks.

Sage strongly invests in its workforce to ensure it recruits and retains the best talent on offer. However, to be the best we need to be diverse, so we spend a lot of time on ensuring our workforce is representative of our customer base but also the region. We have a hugely popular apprenticeship programme that has ran since 2012. Through this we provide employment to ambitious young people and we have an 80% retention rate too meaning we’re providing them with sustainable employment! This apprenticeship programme enables our apprentices to get hands-on practice in a real-life work environment. This is also incredibly valuable to Sage too as these recruits often bring fresh ideas and approaches.

Part of our outreach work within the North-East communities also involves educating young people, some as young as eight though programmes, such as ‘Makers and Creators’ ran by Tech for Life, about the skills that tech companies need in employees. That’s also why we’re working a lot in schools, talking to teachers and sharing what technology really means these days and the opportunities available at Sage for everyone.

Additionally, we have a variety of programme to support women in tech. We have a Women@Sage mentoring programme to support women progressing in tech. Additionally, we work with schools and universities supporting the STEM agenda. We ensure our recruitment processes and apprenticeship programmes attract a broad range of candidates. We believe a diverse tech business is a brilliant one.

3. What makes talent in Newcastle well suited to work at Sage?
There’s a fantastic energy up here. The region also inherently has a strong innovation thread running throughout it that has resulted in it being one of the UK’s strongest tech hubs; one where creative minds can thrive, create and challenge the status quo. It’s this problem solving, creative and inquisitive attitude that goes down well at Sage. Add into the mix the warm personalities here and it is the perfect combination for us and it’s one our customers love.

4. Does the region’s industrial heritage play into the type of talent you see in the city today?
Without a doubt. Its innovative and industrial heritage provides a solid foundation upon which to build great problem solvers. You can see that in the great start-ups we have in the region. A fantastic example of this is a company called Drone Ops, based in Science Central, a business that offers research and development services involving Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) and robotic technologies. We worked with them recently as part of our Start-Up Exchange programme, which encourages international business growth.

Tech Nation Talent

A four-part series of reports on the talent and skills dynamics of the UK tech sector.

Download the:

International talent report Infographic