After establishing a successful career in the digital sector, Amy De-Balsi took the leap and decided to start her own enterprise, Herd, which helps connect workers with digital and tech companies in Leeds.
Here we talk to her about why she decided to stay in Leeds and her experience of being a female entrepreneur in the tech industry.
What is Herd and what do you do?
Herd is a digital and tech jobs board for the city and we also host two digital jobs fairs, the next happening on 28th April 2017 at First Direct Arena. We’re also talking to other Northern cities that like what we do to see how we can work with them.
What led you to establish Herd, what’s the need and why in Leeds?
As a student at Leeds University I always wanted to stay up North but I couldn’t really see where I could work and it was difficult to find out what was available. Starting off as a jobs board, Herd grew in reaction to this lack of visibility. Now lots of companies are promoting themselves directly to candidates and Herd grew in tandem with this. Now the understanding and visibility of what tech jobs are available in Leeds has now improved so much.
What’s your background in the digital sector?
I’ve always worked in tech since I graduated from Leeds University studying Geography. I’ve had a strange mix of roles and my career hasn’t been linear like most other people in the sector. My last job was with Sky Bet building their employer brand. The leap into setting up Herd was a complete and utter experiment.
It could be said that tech is a male dominated sector, do you find this to be the case?
Yes unfortunately. In one job I was one of two women out of seventy technologists. This has, however, now massively changed and larger organisations are actively working to get women into new roles, so although it’s still definitely not a 50/50 split there aren’t the same barriers as there was 10 years ago.
Have you seen any changes in the sector over the years?
It’s so much easier now to see what jobs are available and what they mean. At University everyone knew what the traditional roles were, but no one could explain what the new job roles were in the tech sector, now this is a lot better and it’s something we’ve worked on at Herd.
Nowadays it’s more about what transferrable skills you have and what you do outside of what you’re studying. Employers are looking for the people who code in their bedrooms and who do it because they are into it.
What advice would you give students looking to get into digital?
Just give it a go, most people won’t end up doing what they started at the beginning of their career as the opportunities are endless.
And ask yourself what do you enjoy doing – that’s the only question you need to ask. That’s how you can see where you can fit and pick something you want to do.
Herd’s next digital jobs fair will be on 28th April in Leeds First Direct arena, find out more here: https://herd.careers/
If you have your own idea for a project, business or enterprise get in touch with Lily Ackroyd-Willoughby in the Leeds University Union Enterprise department at email@example.com