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Andy Burnham and Matt Dawson endorse Manchester’s status as “The Digital Capital of the UK”

Andy Burnham and Matt Dawson endorse Manchester’s status as “The Digital Capital of the UK”  as delegates analyse team value in transformation, cyber’s central role in scaling, and finding talent in unexpected spaces


Manchester’s status as “the fastest growing digital and tech hub in Europe” can only be maintained through relentless, collaborative ambition - according to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and World Cup winner Matt Dawson.

A new digital blueprint for the Greater Manchester region was unveiled this week at DTX + UCX Manchester 2023 - with the Mayor announcing an educational revamp that will make IT and engineering essential components of early learning experiences and create a new system in which local talent can be nurtured and offer more routes for young people into the tech industry.

Burnham declared the city-region was committed to its mission of improving digital literacy - a move that rugby World Cup winner and fellow keynote speaker Matt Dawson recognised.

“The people and the companies in this room are offering the opportunity for the next generation to come through,” he told his audience on Day Two of DTX Manchester 2023, reflecting on how companies should continue to utilise smarter ways of working to maximise productivity whilst never being afraid to push the limits and try new things.

“There is a significant shift in how we position the workforce at the moment, whether in sport or work, things are completely different when you look at the needs of staff,” Dawson explained.

“I find that exciting.”

He also added: “The best coach I played under told me it’s ok to make a mistake - just don’t make the same mistake twice,”, explaining that working out what your strengths and weaknesses are can take a while but “if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not testing the boundaries.”

“Day-in, day-out there is a relentless nature to elite performance, there is no cheat, no corner to be cut.

“Otherwise you might end up good, but will you be great?”

Dawson also explained that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes - some are vocal, some are strategic, some are young with fresh ideas - and during a fireside chat later in the show, Chris Chamberlain from Paypoint PLC expanded on the importance of creating a multifaceted workforce that embraces different ideologies.

“What will work for one person won’t work for everybody else,” he pointed out, and invited other business owners to consider the abilities and motivations of an employee to determine which tasks they should be assigned.

Andy Norton from Prolific said that creating “Communities of Practice” can work wonders in the tech arena - a philosophy which actively encourages people of similar job roles in different teams to work/spend time together, share their experiences, learn from one another and create a knowledge web.

He also asked companies to “go through the checkpoints” to see if they were meeting values as a team. Whilst the Mayor proved that blueprints are useful for mapping the future, Andy Norton demonstrated they can be equally valuable for monitoring progress, with Prolific consulting their own team blueprint to determine if they were “living up to expectations” and conducting realignment sessions as a result.

Part of building out tech teams and integrating change at scale involves encompassing a cyber focus, and an afternoon Fireside Chat featuring Dell, Intel, Plexal and moveero concluded that building cybersecurity into enterprise architecture was instrumental in breaking down upcoming barriers to transformation.

Another secret recipe for building great teams is by searching in unexpected spaces. Beckie Taylor - the CEO of Manchester-based Tech Returners - encouraged employers to “look into the gap” during the closing session at DTX + UCX Manchester 2023, inviting them to look at investing in people who are coming back into industry after years away.

Three successful graduates of the Tech Returners programme celebrated their achievements on stage - talking about the value of having programmes, resources and development tools that can reignite careers in technology, right here on our doorstep in Manchester.

If anyone wanted proof of Manchester’s status as a European leader in digital and tech, they could find it at DTX + UCX Manchester 2023.

Look out for DTX Europe in October. Register your interest online here.

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