News UK takes 7 months to build 170-person tech team
News UK, the publisher behind The Times and The Sun newspapers, has created a 170-strong technology team in a little over seven months.
Speaking to Computing recently, News UK CTO Christina Scott, formerly Chief Information and Product Officer at the Financial Times, explained that the new team was built in part to in-house work previously carried out by outsourcer HCL.
Christina said, “When I moved to News UK, I said to the management team that I want to build a team outside London, as it’s expensive and difficult to keep hold of talent here,” said Scott. “So we built a team in India, in Bangalore. From the start in April 2016 we’ve managed to build a complete team of 170 people, in new offices which have been purpose-built for us. They’re doing everything from operations and infrastructure support, to software development, including working on the Sun mobile and web apps.”
“Previously we had lots of contractors. We moved from an outsourcing contract with HCL to bring the work in-house with the team in India. And they’re work complements everything we do in London. The idea is it’s just one tech team, I don’t care if the work’s done in India or here.”
She explained that News UK used innovative recruitment techniques to secure the right talent, including hackathons.
“Data scientists are very hard to get, so it’s worth investing in a team where you can build up their skills over time. So they may not have 20 years of data science behind them, but get right people with maybe a few years, and then you can build up their experience.
“We worked with HackerEarth, and ran a data-based hackathon over a weekend. We let it be known there were jobs available at the end. We had 1,500 people apply, then 40 attended, and we recruited the best four. That also brings great PR around the company we built out there, as the offices are amazing which creates a buzz. So it works as both a marketing and recruitment tool.”
“My mission in life is to make News UK, whether in India, London or anywhere, a destination for technologists. When I arrived, it’s not that we had a bad reputation, we had no reputation. We were never speaking at conferences or putting ourselves up for awards.”