Tech City UK Blog

The 2015 Digital Masters Awards are around the corner and we caught up with event organisers The Up Group‘s CEO Robert Swerling on some surprising facts about attracting tech talent in Europe

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With the 12 coveted green cubes – which Digital Masters winners take home – at the engravers, we’ve been reflecting on some of the trends we’re seeing in the war for talent in Europe. Here are some of the more surprising ones:

  1. Hiring, developing, and retaining great talent is hard, but finding someone who can build a great workforce within your company is harder. If you’re looking for a Chief People Officer, join the club: they’re rare. If you can find a great one, he or she will transform your business.


  1. If regional MDs were ever glorified salesmen, they aren’t now. Businesses on an international growth path are increasingly looking for seasoned general managers to lead companies into new markets. That’s mainly because the stakes are higher: at today’s inflated multiples, successful internationalisation is non-negotiable.


  1. After five tubs of ice cream, sometimes a dry biscuit can taste good. Ambitious digital executives are increasingly moving away from VC-backed moon-shots and looking to test themselves against the disciplines and traditional business metrics of a PE-backed environment. Great talent can be attracted to the unlikeliest businesses, if they generate real cash.


  1. Nobody believes in digital pixie dust anymore. Companies undergoing digital transformation are, for the first time, starting to think clearly about how to organise themselves effectively. This means asking difficult questions about leadership, culture and strategy, and making bold decisions. The days of the powerless Chief Digital Officer, whose main job is to ‘influence’, are numbered.


  1. America is no longer the gold standard for everything. Yes, there are fewer European digital leaders who have experienced Uber-like growth journeys, but with every European unicorn, the number of local executives who have managed rapid scale grows larger. Europe is starting to overtake the US in specific areas, with FinTech leading the charge. And, contrary to received wisdom, ‘product management’ is no longer a foreign concept over here.

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The shortlists for the 2015 Awards show how far Europe has come. We’re looking forward to a fantastic evening!