Bob Paton at Accenture Top Employer

Programmes Offered: Degree Apprenticeship / Sponsored Degree (Level 6/7)
Industry: Digital Media & IT

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Bob Paton

Bob Paton

Managing Director for the Newcastle Delivery Centre

My name is Bob Paton, and I am the Managing Director for Accenture’s Delivery Centre in the North East. I was born and brought up in the North East of England and left school at 15 with no qualifications. I did not go to sixth form or university.

We've been in the North East for 15 years but in 2010 we changed to become a delivery centre, so we got to work with other clients. Staff numbers have gone from 204 in 2010 to 325 now.

I joined the Information Technology industry as a computer programmer and have been in the industry for 34 years. I stumbled into it because it I found out it paid an extra £1,000 a year to do a programming job rather than a clerical job. We've got to get more people an opportunity without basing it on chance. It is a great industry to work in, full of rewards and opportunities and it continues to develop at a rapid pace.

To be a really successful technology industry, the key is skills. You can't grow an industry from a particular location unless the skills are there, so what we've really got to do is grow the skills. From their point of view, people have got to see there are jobs to get into. Businesses will grow if they've got the right product. If they're going to grow, they need the skills to support them.

We will not be successful as an industry unless we really do well on the skills agenda. If people know the skilled people are there it will attract businesses and that’s really important. It's a way to enhance the links in the supply chain. The subsea sector has focused on gaining local, national and international prominence. If we can promote the tech industry, locally and nationally, people will be able to make better use of the supply chain that exists.

There's probably three routes through which we take people on. We take people on as apprentices, and we look for an interest in IT and the right attitude. The second is we take on IT graduates. It's really important that we have people that have degrees and understand the tech industry. The third angle is people with experience. You can't just keep putting people in at the bottom in an organisation. You've got to look at the whole structure and make sure you've got experience and the right input.

I think the key to a really successful industry lies in having education and business really closely aligned. You see an example at Nissan, where you've got a Gateshead College academy right out front. We really want to bring together the schools, colleges and universities so we can recruit people with the right skills. We've got to start this interest right from the school years and really start to grow people who have an interest in technology.

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