Digital, data and tech job opportunities in Croydon

The Croydon Digital Service is hiring!

We’ve just posted 4 vacancies – the first of several batches of roles to come available as we establish our new digital service in Croydon Council. These 4 roles are in our technology, service operations and business management teams. The closing dates are on 6 and 10 Jan, so if you or someone you know is looking for a new challenge in 2019 in an exciting, friendly team that’s not messing around, get applying over Romjul/Twixtmas/Chrimbo limbo!

(You’ll have to excuse the user experience of the jobs site. It’s on our list to fix at some point. Consider it an induction into just one of the things you’ll be able to help improve!)

And this site now has a jobs page!

Through this site and other means, we want to raise the visibility of Croydon as a great place for digital, data and tech careers, and do things that help our existing tech businesses to thrive.

So we’ve added a jobs page, to collate all the digital, data and tech opportunities in our borough.

There’s no charge for this service – all employers that operate from premises in Croydon are welcome to list their digital jobs on this page. Just drop us a line and we’ll get it done.

(For now it’s just a simple page, but could become a proper jobs board over time. Croydonites, remember this site is something for us all to share so let me know if you feel able to help evolve any part of this site with us!)

The council will have another batch of roles to recruit in early 2019, in product management, agile delivery and user-centred design disciplines, and when they’re available we’ll be adding them on the jobs page too.

For now, Merry Cronxmas.


(This excellent card is by CDN)

Neil Williams is the Chief Digital Officer for Croydon Council. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@neillyneil in both cases).

Croydon is changing

That fact is irrefutable. Croydon is changing, over £5 billion is being pumped into its regeneration, and the whole town is going through a transformation of the likes it hasn’t seen before.

Connected Space is a technology innovation company firmly rooted in Croydon, and committed to delivering transformational change with the organisations we work with – from start-ups to pivoting mid-size companies to large global corporations. Much like Croydon itself, our next five years will be about growth. But in order for this to be a success, the change will need to be driven by ‘sustainable innovation’.

We live in hugely exciting times for the tech sector. Groundbreaking innovation is around every corner, and advancements are fundamentally disrupting the world around us. From ‘Artificial Intelligence’ to the ‘Internet of Things’ to ‘Blockchain’, these emerging technologies are already being being applied to solve real challenges in real world situations, as well as creating exciting new products/services and business models. Take Artificial Intelligence for example. It’s being put to work within the medical sector, and industrial companies are already benefiting from the implementation of Augmented and Virtual Reality. We’ve all heard of self-driving cars, and one day (probably sooner than we expect in Croydon) we could be moved around our cities in shared autonomous electric vehicles – at the exact time we want, and with a price tailored to our needs.

However, the excitement and possibilities that this myriad of new innovations provide can often be over-hyped, especially within the so called ‘smart cities’ sector. What is actually needed right now is more straightforward and sustainable innovation, with fundamental services that truly serve the needs of citizens, businesses, and communities. With our towns and cities changing so fast, they need to be listened to carefully, and then be part of co-creating meaningful solutions to the problems they face right now, not just the problems they might face one day in a far-away future.

‘Sustainability innovation’ is truly the name of the game.

The last thing that is needed right now is another pizza robot or package delivering drone which, whilst generating some great PR fizz, isn’t the kind of sustainable innovation that’s going to deliver real transformational change that addresses real world problems.

Take potholes, for example. Not a particularly glamorous or exciting subject, but there’s not a driver or cyclist in the UK that doesn’t want this real problem tackled better. Rightfully so given that each year in Britain around 50 cyclists are killed or seriously injured by poor roads. But despite this, the approach for addressing this problem has largely remained the same for decades, and has ignored the transformative power of the emerging technologies to help provide answers. Connected Space, with funding from the Department for Transport and Croydon Council as a Local Authority partner, has leveraged artificial intelligence technologies to develop an innovative solution to this real world challenge. There’s a huge opportunity when considering the potential of Local Authorities, Metropolitan and National Government to redesign and reengineer services that are leveraging emerging technologies and ways of working to truly transform our societies for the better.

With all sectors now being digitally transformed by the power of technology, the Government sector clearly has a long way to go – especially when compared to sectors like the Media (where our co-founders met over 12 years ago) – but the potential for transformative and positive impacts for citizens is a true game-changer.

‘GovTech’ is now a ‘thing’. It’s a growing sector worth an estimated £6.6 billion in 2015, and is expected to grow to £20 billion by 2025. Government reforms (particularly since 2010) have shown the UK to be a world leader in governmental digitisation, and we should all welcome Croydon Council’s appointment of ex-Government Digital Services super-star Neil Williams as it’s first ever Chief Digital Officer. The public sector needs to up its game in order to keep up with its citizens who quickly adopt new technologies into their everyday lives, and this requires a whole new mindset when it comes to User Centric design of services/products/processes. Services, products, and processes that have to be underpinned through a strong appreciation of emerging technologies. Old legacy systems, single supplier contracts, and ancient procurement policies are simply no longer fit for purpose.

Croydon, the capital of GovTech?

However, GovTech doesn’t currently have a recognised ‘home’ within the UK, unlike most other ‘…Tech’s’ do.  FinTech is synonymous with Canary Wharf/Shoreditch, Smart Cities has it’s national test area in Manchester, Open Data has been claimed by Bristol, and Cybersecurity is shared across Cheltenham and East London.

The capital of GovTech is up for grabs, and with it a golden opportunity for that place to create sustainable innovation for its citizens along with the creation of new and exciting technology jobs across the borough, and global recognition as a GovTech centre of excellence.

Croydon has the fertile environment required to claim this title. We’re London’s growth Borough, we already have significant Government presence in our town with the likes of HMRC, the Home Office, HM Land Registry and the Pension Protection Fund, we now have a highly respected Chief Digital Officer driving transformational change at our ambitious council, and alongside all of that Croydon boasts a vibrant technology community creating the future today.

So. Who’s up for it? #notmessingaround

Hi!  I’m Mick Robins,  CEO & Co-Founder of Connected Space, a technology innovation company firmly rooted in Croydon but co-creating innovative solutions for partners across the world.  I’m passionate about ‘sustainable innovation’, technology as a force for good and all things Star Wars. When I’m not struggling with Mid-Life Yoga or being wrestled to the floor by my two young sons, I enjoy singing the praises of Croydon to anyone that is daft enough to listen to me. View can only ever be my own!  Follow me on twitter:  @mrgamesmick

Introducing Annie Heath

Hello! I’m Annie Heath and I’m so pleased to be joining the Croydon Digital Service in the council as the Digital Design Manager. It’s an incredible time to be joining a committed, enthusiastic local authority digital team and I can’t wait to get cracking and meet them, and all the great people in Croydon coming together and banging the drum for Croydon digital on this blog.

I’ll be bringing lots of digital transformation experience, years of local government insight and a shedload of excitement with me. After a few years in the housing department and a few iterations of differently-named teams doing customer access and modernisation work, I joined the Digital First team in Brighton. Have a look at their blog to get a flavour of what I have been up to.

I know what it feels like to have multiple pressures, whether it is not enough time, money or people, and then have a new team coming along saying that this time when we change, everything is going to be different. I understand the frustrations, because I’ve been there. We do have a great opportunity here though! Great leadership, a fresh team, an organisation up for the challenge. I’m looking forward to joining the team and helping us all work together so that this time, it IS different.

Croydon has signed the Local Digital Declaration which commits us to

  • design services that best meet the needs of citizens
  • challenge the technology market to offer the flexible tools and services we need
  • protect citizens’ privacy and security
  • deliver better value for money

And the Croydon Digital Service team are committed to supporting services to achieve this. We will work with colleagues across the council to understand what their staff and customers need. Together we will identify what we need to either improve, remove, redesign or build to meet those needs. We will listen, share and be open, and provide the council with tools that will help them work more openly, collaborate more easily and solve problems more quickly – involving the users of our services in the design from the start. I’ll be posting here with updates on what, who, how and why as we find out and deliver.

It won’t happen overnight and without the commitment of everyone it won’t happen at all. But if we work together it will happen. I’m looking forward to it!

Annie Heath is the incoming Digital Design Manager at Croydon Digital Service, starting in January. She has a keen focus on user needs being at the heart of transformational change. You can follow her on Twitter @annie3h

Connecting graduates and small businesses to support the Croydon tech ecosystem

I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute a blog post to, so early in the life of this new tech forum.

If you don’t know me already, I’m the centre manager at Sussex Innovation Croydon – part of an incubation network for high-growth start-ups.

Most people ask me “why Sussex? Isn’t Croydon in Surrey?” (Actually it’s neither, it’s a borough of London!) But our ‘mothership’, at the University of Sussex just outside Brighton, is a very commutable distance away. We’ve been supporting businesses based on new technologies and research through our campus-based innovation hub for 22 years, and when we decided to expand north a few years ago, East Croydon’s growing tech reputation and brilliant location fitted the bill!

Our mission is to be a hub for ambitious local people, who are working on new ideas with the aim of growing and employing people. While most of our team are not ‘tech people’, we’re here to provide a safety net for people who are. Our team’s expertise lies in helping entrepreneurs build the right model to see their innovations succeed – from the strategic advice about scaling a business, to the practical support that helps get the work done.

We know that going from a small development team to hiring employees is a huge step for most, so we have developed a system to bridge that gap. Our Catalyst programme is a graduate scheme whereby around 15 graduates and work placement students are employed by us for 12 months. They come from many different backgrounds – this year’s intake includes psychology, literature, physics, maths and business studies degrees.

Our members use the team’s many and varied talents to carry out projects ranging from research to content writing. These are scoped and overseen by our senior team, and often give the graduates a completely different experience from their studies. It’s an affordable resource for companies at the start of their growth journey, and invaluable experience of real, meaningful work for young people, enabling them to earn a wage, bolster their CV, and work out what career they want to pursue all in one.

One of the first things many business owners ask us when they hear about the scheme is ‘can we get a computer science grad?’ In fact, we rarely hire Catalyst team members from that particular discipline, for a few very good reasons.

Firstly, a computer science degree is almost a ticket to a job straight out of university. These graduates often have a better handle on their career path than most, and their skills are so in demand that opportunities are always there. In other words, they don’t stand to benefit from our scheme in the same way as other students.

Secondly, the question demonstrates how unaware we are of the capabilities of the millennial workforce. Young people graduating today have been online their entire lives, and are much more tech savvy than we might expect, regardless of their qualifications. My experience working alongside them has been a revelation. Their energy and determination to resolve challenges without assistance is incredible, but as ‘digital natives’, it’s not surprising that they go straight to Google when they need an answer.

Of course, not all of them have coding skills – although more and more of our science and maths graduates come out of university with experience of programming – but they are united in a willingness to learn and draw on the collaborative spirit of the developers and technologists in our community.

Croydon’s negative reputation has preceded it for too long but for those who work here every day, we see change and opportunities afoot. There is a buzz of excitement not just in our hub but throughout the business community.

Those commuters exhausted with travelling in to the more established Central London workspaces are slowly realising that a tech community does exist in Croydon, and with talent resources such as Catalyst, there is no need to pay excessive rent and travel expenses if you want to build a brilliant tech business.

Saffron Saunders is passionate about all things Croydon but particularly interested in inspiring young people and social mobility. As Centre Manager at Sussex Innovation Centre Croydon, she works daily with talented young people who have exciting career options. Saffron is also a trustee for local grass roots charity Lives Not Knives and volunteers as an enterprise advisor at Croydon College. Follow Saffron on twitter: @SaundersSaffron Instagram @Saffron648

My wish for Croydon digital: go far, go together in 2019

I firmly believe digital is all about people.  One way or another you have most likely used a digital channel today to help solve a problem – ensuring those gifts arrive on time thanks to Amazon, switching your house lights off through Alexa, transferring money to pay those bills with a couple of taps through an app on your mobile, catching up with that box set you’ve been meaning to watch on iPlayer. Digital is everywhere and it effects our everyday life – it’s an enabler that provides solutions to our most simple and complex everyday issues, locally and globally – and it’s time Croydon paves the way.

In a recent report – Lloyd’s Digital Index 2018 – it was found that nearly a third of UK SME businesses were not yet online and, even more worryingly, of those that are, only 2% actually have insight into who is using their website. This is a major issue if we want our  companies to compete in the global economy. We’re living in a time when digital disruption can change the business landscape virtually overnight, so we must ensure Croydon’s SMEs & corporates can adopt and adapt successfully and secure their place in the global landscape.

As a borough we need to ensure our residents and businesses have access to digital skills, digital talent, learning and support so that we don’t miss out on opportunities for economic growth, ensuring that we can all benefit from digital with inclusivity in mind, whilst also narrowing social gaps. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us – backed by a thriving community that has already been nominated as the fastest growing tech ecosystem in London.

I’ve witnessed the power of community first hand.

I’ve experienced the wonder of creating something from nothing – through genuine curiosity, perseverance and passion. The incredible impact a kind random offer of help can have; a few encouraging words that land at just the ‘right’ time; an ‘a-ha!’ moment following a chat with peers on key learnings that helps you tweak your business plan or sign up to that education course you had always been meaning to take; the simple joy of #payingitforward and not expecting anything back in return – the value of a trusted network that is on a mission to just make things better.

That is what I see becoming. I’m thrilled that Neil Williams, Dave Briggs and the Croydon Digital Service team are putting community at the heart of their strategy. My wish for is for it to be a celebration for our voices to be heard – a collective of voices both online and offline – so that together we may truly be able to share information, solve problems for one another, develop new and better ways of doing things & rejoice each significant milestone & achievement, together.

There are already incredible organisations, networks and initiatives in Croydon for you to get involved in from Croydon Chamber of Commerce, Shaking Hands, Croydon Councils Good Employer Network, Sussex Innovations ‘Silicon Valley of the South’ events, TMRW Hubs ‘Ask me anything’ series and events. Join in, collaborate, take action and advocate.

There is an African proverb –

If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, go together

So, which path will you take for 2019?

Sarah Luxford is on a mission to effect large scale positive change through talent and community. Born and bred in the #Cronx she was co-founder of Croydon Tech City, is Founder of Tech London Advocates Women in Tech and Director at Global Resourcing, an executive search firm providing digital talent.  You can follow Sarah on twitter: @SarahRecruiter

Croydon is digital and we’re #notmessingaround

Welcome to – a new corner of the web where we hope to celebrate, accelerate and document Croydon’s tech sector growth and the digital transformation of our public services and places.

Although started by my team in the council, this is categorically a community blog – for and by the digital changemakers of Croydon. It’s a shared asset that we’ll evolve together from these humble beginnings into whatever we collectively want it to be, to maximise the opportunities for digital to make things better for people and businesses in our borough. Read the about page for more.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants: hoping to pick up the story where Croydon Tech City and The Croydon Citizen left off. (Sarah, Jonny, Nigel, James and everyone who contributed – thank you). And we are participating more actively ourselves – having been too quiet a voice in this conversation before – and growing a more more capable, visionary and engaged digital service in the council as part of its wider, ambitious plans.

It’s all about better outcomes for residents

The council as a whole is focused on delivering better outcomes for residents. If you haven’t already seen it, our 2018-22 corporate plan is a genuinely exciting read. It sets out a new operating model of evidence-based, preventative, user-centred, locally tailored and cross-sectoral approaches to making real change happen for the people of Croydon.

Those approaches and motivations go hand in hand with digital ways of working, and it’s in the spirit of that new model that we have created this new blog. The conditions have never been better for real, lasting digital transformation to take hold.

Introducing the Croydon Digital Service

In line with the council’s ambitions, my team is transforming to become the Croydon Digital Service.

The echo of GDS’s name in our new one is deliberate, signalling our renewed commitment (not just in my team, but as a whole council) to internet-era approaches and serving our users’ needs – to create better outcomes for the people and businesses of Croydon.

We have already signed the Local Digital Declaration – a set of GDS-influenced principles and commitments for local government that, given time to bed in, will have far-reaching consequences for the technology we choose, the way that we use it and the quality of our public services.

And we are upskilling our digital team – restructuring, making new hires, investing in culture and process change, teaching ourselves new tricks, and bringing new partners on board for the underlying technology we rely on.

We are demonstrably #notmessingaround and in the next 6 months, while we transform ourselves, we also aim to create a new digital strategy for Croydon, spanning our internal operations as a council, the services we provide to residents and cross-sector plans to make Croydon a more digital, smarter place.

This blog, among other purposes, provides a space for us to do our thinking in the open and engage the local community as our strategy and plans develop. These are your public services, and your public spaces after all.

Help us make be great

Working in the open is something close to my heart. I launched the first ever blog by a Cabinet Minister in this country, commissioned the blogging platform now shared by most central government departments, and as Head of GOV.UK I got the team (and now many other government teams) publishing its roadmap and incident reports.

As those in tech world know, “failing fast” and learning from it is vital. Sharing our learnings or emergent ideas for feedback, as well as celebrating our successes, can be invaluable to ourselves and others. Working in the open in this way is established practice in central government digital circles, and many of our local government digital peers also blog brilliantly already.

For many in the nascent Croydon Digital Service and the wider council, though, this will initially feel new and nerve-wracking. So let me make a plea, to those who would like to see a more transparent and engaged council, to please not to judge too harshly – especially as we are getting started. Instead, please encourage and support my team’s first forays into working more openly via this site.

And – most importantly of all, if you’re part of this Croydon digital movement – join in. We want lots of voices here, telling the story with us and promoting Croydon as a leading destination for tech businesses and source of digital innovation.

Contact us to let us know you’re interested in either writing or helping to iterate the platform, and we’ll follow up on next steps.

Neil Williams is the recently appointed Chief Digital Officer for Croydon Council. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @neillyneil.