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A Q&A WITH AMY DE-BALSI, FOUNDER OF LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR

Tuesday 28th November 2017

In this Q&A we hear from Amy De-Balsi, founder of Herd digital job board and Leeds Digital Job fair, find out more below...

Amy De-Balsi launched Herd in January 2015 and it is an online jobs board that specialises in pulling together the best digital and technology vacancies direct from local employers in Leeds before pushing them out to potential candidates primarily via social media.  In February 2016 she launched the Leeds Digital Job Fair and is now on her 4th event.

Previously, Amy worked in both public and private sector.  She spent 5 years at Yorkshire Forward running a £20m portfolio of projects to develop the region digital sector, then spent a further 7 years at Sky Betting and Gaming delivering new technology projects.

Amy also runs a consulting business and is current working with Leeds Trinity University to create new their first software engineering degree, Leeds Beckett University to build links with local employers and Elmwood Brand Agency to build their business accelerator.
 
Your career has seen you working in various digital roles for some leading tech companies. What is it about technology that drew you into pursuing a career in the sector?

I left University without knowing what I wanted to do and my first job happened to be in a technology company.  I quickly worked out that I enjoyed the variety of delivering different projects and project management was the right thing for me.  Although I run a business now I still see myself as a project manager.    It uses the same skills.

You are founder of Herd Careers job board, can you tell us more about Herd and how it came to fruition?

My last job role became redundant and I was struggling to know who else I could work for.  At the same time I was hearing repeatedly that employers couldn’t find enough tech talent in Leeds.  The job board seemed to be the most sensible way of solving the problem.

The digital skills gap is a challenge facing the tech sector across the world. You’re the founder of the Leeds Digital Job Fair, for those who don’t know, can you explain more about the job fair and how it is helping bridge the skills gap in Leeds?


The job fair brings together 50 local tech employers in the First Direct Arena  for an afternoon. At the event you’ll hear companies pitching how great it is to work for them and at the last event in April there were over 500 jobs available.  

The event is aimed at everyone who wants to work in the sector.  Whether you are just starting out and not sure what you can do all the way up to senior jobs.  Its a great opportunity to meet companies and see if they have anything that might interest you.

What lies ahead for the Digital Jobs Fair in 2018?

We’ll be bringing 50 companies back together again on 28th February 2018 for our 4th event and have already got some amazing companies joining us.  We’ve changed the time slot this time to 3.30pm to 7.30pm to allow people to come along after work.


Why should companies exhibit at the Jobs Fair?  Who can we expect to see there?


We get 1500 candidates through the door during the event and they travel from all across the UK to see whats on offer.  Lots of people come up from London to see what roles are on offer outside the capital because of the quality of life up here.  

So far we have NHS Digital, Sky Betting & Gaming, EE, StepChange Debt Charity and TPP. 


Why should individuals attend the fair?

The event is a great opportunity for you to build your networks, informally find out what employers are looking for and get your CV reviewed.  You might not be ready for a move immediately but it is always good to know who else in the area and expanding.

What level of experience should individuals have to get the most out of the fair?

The fair is for anyone with an interest in digital and technology.  There are employers and training companies who can help you get your first step into the industry all the way up to director roles. Just go and talk to them and find out what is on offer.

The Jobs Fair is much more than meeting employers, tell us about some of the seminars on offer.
 
We always run a conference stage to let companies tell candidates what projects they are working on, what their culture is like and what they are looking for in candidates.  

What would your advice be to someone looking to pursue a career in the digital sector?
 
Be open-minded, give it a go.  If a job doesn’t work out then there is so much opportunity for you to do something different in this sector.  This industry is fast paced and being adaptable is the key to building a great career.

What advice would you have for a company wanting to attract / retain the best digital talent?

 
Don’t expect people to know who you are and automatically want to work for you. The competition is tough now. You need to build your brand as an employer and let everyone know what it is like to work for you. 

 
What would you like to see in 2018 for digital in Leeds?

The local tech community is really strong in Leeds and we are getting a reputation for doing things.  We just need more big events for the world to notice what’s happening here.

Get your tickets for the next Digital Job Fair here.
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