Tag Archives: big data

Tap into Top Talent

BSc Digital

Employers are invited to attend a free Business Breakfast taking place on Friday 11th March 08:00-09:30 supported by Santander Corporate & Commercial Bank, at Pynes Hill, Exeter, on behalf of the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board.

The Business Breakfast will provide information and advice to employers on the benefits of tapping in to top talent through the Higher and Graduate apprenticeship route and is part of the National Apprenticeship Week 2016, which runs between 14th and 18th March.

This event will be beneficial to employers who are looking to grow their own top talent, as well as those who have already benefitted from employing Intermediate and Advanced level apprentices and would like to explore Higher or Graduate apprenticeships. Businesses which operate in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Knowledge Based Industries (KBI) are encouraged to attend, as are those who are interested in finding out about the new Degree Apprenticeships at the University of Exeter. The Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board encourages high quality apprenticeships across all sectors and levels, with particular interest in technical and higher entry level apprenticeships.

Simon McGinnes from The University of Exeter, will talk about the exciting new initiative of Degree Apprenticeships in Digital and Technology Solutions. Also included on the agenda are presentations from successful apprentice employers and the opportunity for a question and answer session within an expert panel discussion. Representatives from the local Apprenticeship Ambassador Network will be available to provide more information and insights during networking time.

The introduction of the apprenticeship levy from April 2017 will encourage employers to think more about benefitting from apprenticeships. Funding opportunities for employers and apprentices have changed with the Government making a significant contribution to Graduate apprentice tuition fees.

Apprenticeships are fast becoming an alternative route into gaining knowledge and skills for the workplace. This increase in work-based learning is growing noticeably, Exeter College anticipates that apprenticeship enrolments are set to exceed those enrolling into ‘A’ Level routes.

All of these interesting and timely topics will be discussed at the event, which is free to attend and includes breakfast and corporate hospitality.

Places are limited to 40 and businesses who would like to take part should register here or contact the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills for further information by emailing oenone.thomas@exeter.gov.uk or ringing 01392 265344 by 4 March 2016.



Home for Met Office new super computer

Future home for Met Office Supercomputer on Exeter Science Park
Artist’s impression of the future home for Met Office Supercomputer on Exeter Science Park

The Exeter & Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board (EHOD ESB) are working with local councils and the Growth Point team to maximise the potential for recruitment of local skills development and employment. In the Construction Industry this may be achieved through the adoption of the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Client Based Approach (CBA) which sets the expectation that construction companies and their sub contractors, whether new build or for maintenance, invest in local skills development and employment opportunities, managed and measured through a set of key performance indicators (KPI) commensurate with the project type and scale.

We are delighted that Willmott Dixon who will be building a home for the final part of the Met Office’s new supercomputer at the Exeter Science Park have already committed to:

  • Local spending, labour and employment which through a set of KPIs enable them to quantify the indirect economic impact of their work on local communities
  • Participate in the Construction Ambassadors’ scheme, where Willmott Dixon employees, visit schools, colleges and career events, and organise site visits and share positive experiences, promoting construction as a rewarding career.

Nationally Willmott Dixon’s 2014 community investment activities included:

  • £2.27 million contributed to enhancing local communities
  • 1,854 young people mentored
  • 326 young people had work placements
  • 500+ fundraising events for charity
  • 57 careers events interacting with 3,700 young people
  • 372 community events, from garden makeovers to renovations and repairs
  • 11 fantastic activities in the management trainee challenge contributing over £250,000 to local communities
  • 1,546 young people had their prospects transformed, (under Willmott Dixon’s definition) which is halfway towards h their target of 3000
  • £2,827 added by The Foundation’s Just Giving process to the £49,000 raised by staff through individual projects

Willmott Dixon say that “social and community investment and engagement is locked into our corporate DNA!”

We need more Big Data Champions

Big Data Human Resource Drill Down and Sample Comments
Graph showing the Human Resource Drill Down & Sample Comments

We tried something new at the Unlocking Big Data – Investing in Human Capital event. We dispensed with the flip charts and the break-out sessions and gathered, analysed, presented and interpreted the real-time contributions of delegates.

So how did we find out that we need more Big Data Champions?

In addition to the discussion happening in the room, attendees also shared their thoughts on Twitter, using the #UnlockingBigData hashtag and on a private comments submission system reserved exclusively for the event. Paul Howarth from PanSensic undertook the analysis of 174 free field comments from 5 stakeholder groups made through the submission system and then presented his initial analysis and interpretation to the delegates.

The headlines were:

Extracting value from Big Data
  • Resistance to change
  • Cost/benefits of working with Big Data
  • Understanding the value in Big Data & how to get at it
  • Challenges for SME’s
Human Resource
  • Concerned with what kind of people we want, how to identify them and attract them, how to train and keep them
  • The high cost of skills, team building and integration into the organisation
  • How do we know what skills are required, will be required?
  • How do we teach them and how do we keep up?
  • How do we get young people into the field?
  • How do we tap into existing expertise?

Following the event, in-depth analysis drilled down into each of the themes and a series of PanSensic lenses was used to reveal even more. The PanSensic Mercury lens, a way of looking at “personality essence” revealed the lack of Big Data Champions and Route Finders. Big Data Champions and Route Finders help create a virtuous circle – open to change, embraces the cost benefit analysis and leads to a greater understanding of the value of Big Data, and so on.

Graph showing the findings revealed by the PanSensic Mercury Lens
Graph showing the findings revealed by the PanSensic Mercury Lens

The new Met Office super-computer, the opening of the first building on the Science Park, the growing concentration of STEM industries and organisations points to a vibrant digital future. A future which requires access to talent to take it forward.

‘Unlocking Big Data’ in Review

Photo of attendees talking at the Met Office during the Big Data event
Attendees meeting during a break between talks. © Torben Sommer

More than 80 people turned out for our Unlocking Big Data event at the Met Office on the 28th of January. The event brought in speakers who are experts in various facets of the Big Data phenomenon to share their insights, and to encourage discussion on what Big Data is, and how it can translate into business and employment opportunities for people in our community.

Big Data speakers posing together at the Met Office during the Big Data event
Our speakers pose for a photo at the Met Office during the event. © Torben Sommer

Attendees came from a wide variety of backgrounds—from students considering what a career in Big Data might entail, to local employers learning how Big Data can benefit their businesses, to seasoned data scientists looking to share their knowledge and experience with others. But hopefully everyone came away knowing more about Big Data, and having some idea what opportunities it can bring to the Greater Exeter area.

While our speakers’ talks served to educate and lend focus, they weren’t the only ones talking: Time was set aside throughout the day for attendees to meet and discuss the points our speakers raised, and ask and answer questions about Big Data amongst each other.

In addition to the discussion happening in the room, attendees also shared their thoughts on Twitter, using the #UnlockingBigData hashtag, and on a private comments submission system reserved exclusively for the event.

Big Data attendees grouped together having discussions and posting online messages via their wireless devices
Attendees conversing together, and sharing their thoughts virtually. © Lauren Trew
#UnlockingBigData screen shot
A small sample of the lively discussion had on the #UnlockingBigData Twitter feed

Some thoughts and comments from ‘Unlocking Big Data’ attendees:

“Great talks throughout the day! In general, I think more work needs to be done in educating everyone in the use of big data. It could have so many benefits to many companies but needs to be approached correctly.”

“…thoroughly engaging and designed to meet a broad audience base.”

“Having a culture that rewards and acknowledges innovation helps, allow people to experiment, and even to fail, to foster innovation.”

Did you attend ‘Unlocking Big Data’? Would you like to see another event like it in the future? Please feel free to leave comments below!

Getting to the ‘Unlocking Big Data’ Event

Wednesday’s ‘Unlocking Big Data’ event is being held at the Met Office in Exeter. Please remember to bring a picture ID with you, as you will need this for registration. Registration will be on the 2nd floor balcony, where you will collect your badge and be given instructions for accessing the guest wi-fi.

The Met Office is easily reachable from a number of different routes; please see below for directions. We encourage attendees to use public transport if possible, as visitor parking will be limited.

(Directions provided by the Met Office)

By walking or cycling

Pedestrian/cycle links with safe crossing facilities have been provided from the Met Office site to Honiton Road and Hill Barton Road (adjacent to the site), and to Honiton Road Park and Ride.

Typical walking times and distances from the Met Office site are:

• to Honiton Road Park and Ride: 10 minutes (700 m)
• to Pinhoe Station: 20-25 minutes (1.5 km)
• to Digby and Sowton Station: 25 minutes (2 km)

By rail

Frequent direct services operate to Paddington and Waterloo stations in London to Exeter St Davids and Exeter Central. A typical journey from London to Exeter takes around 2 hours 15 minutes, and from the Midlands around 2 hours 30 minutes. See By Bus section for bus connections from these train stations.

The stations closest to the Met Office site are Pinhoe station to the north and Digby and Sowton station to the south. Note: these stations are not serviced as frequently as Exeter St Davids.

Pinhoe can be reached from London Waterloo from the east or Exeter St Davids from the west and south. It is possible to travel direct to Digby and Sowton without changing trains from stations on the Paignton line.

By bus and coach

From Exeter city centre

The Park and Ride service (PR2/M2) provides a regular, quick route from Exeter city centre every 12 minutes, and stops at the Honiton Road Park and Ride stop, from which it is a 10-minute walk to the Met Office. This service departs from Paris Street (stop 17), or Sidwell Street (stop 19). Journey time approximately 20 minutes.

Service B operates every half hour and passes Pinhoe railway station. On the journey from the city centre you need to alight at Honiton Road Park and Ride stop, from which it is a 10-minute walk to the Met Office. However, on the return journey the service passes through the Met Office site. This service departs from the High Street (stop 3) and Sidwell Street (stop 19). Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

Service 56 operates approximately hourly from the bus station in Paris Street. Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

From Exeter St Davids railway station

The 56 operates approximately hourly and passes through the Met Office site, and continues on to Exeter Airport. Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

By road

From the north, south, and west

Leave at junction 29 of the M5 motorway.
Turn right at the end of the motorway slip road and go straight across the first roundabout.
Take the second turning on the right into FitzRoy Road.
Follow the road around the Met Office building.

From the east

Follow the A30 under the M5.
Go straight across the first roundabout.
Take the second turning on the right into FitzRoy Road.
Follow the road around the Met Office building.

If you are driving, please proceed to the West Car Park, where spaces have been reserved for event attendees. Signs will direct you to the Visitors main entrance.

For further directions or to view a map, please see this guide provided by the Met Office.

Participation at ‘Unlocking Big Data’

At a typical conference, speakers do all the talking, while attendees simply sit and listen. But at ‘Unlocking Big Data’, we envision attendee participation in discussions taking a central role in the day’s events. A significant component of attendee participation will rely on the Internet: We have set up a private website where delegates will be able to log in and submit comments on the event—the topics discussed, the speakers, and their experience of the event itself. At several points over the course of the day, we will be running real-time analyses on these comments, and reporting those findings to the group. These comments will be anonymous; no personal data will be attached to them. But feedback from our delegates is an important part of the day, so please remember to bring your wireless-enabled devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. When you arrive at the Met Office, you will be given instructions for accessing their guest wi-fi, as well as our website.

Additionally, we encourage attendees to use Twitter to communicate their thoughts and ideas about the event, as well as to engage with other attendees and the larger Big Data community. You can use the hashtag #UnlockingBigData to discuss the event, as well as to continue the discussion afterward. You can follow us on Twitter at @ExeterSkills. If you don’t have a Twitter account, we encourage you to get one! It’s easy to get started, and it will further your ability to engage with other participants at ‘Unlocking Big Data’, as well as with the larger Big Data community.

Meet the Speakers for ‘Unlocking Big Data’

Technology Editor, The Guardian

Charles Arthur has been in technology journalism for over 30 years. Most recently he was technology editor at The Guardian for nine years, writing about Apple, Google and Microsoft as well as other topics including Wikileaks and the Snowden documents. Previously he was at The Independent and New Scientist. He has written a book,
Digital Wars, about the business battles and history between Apple, Google and Microsoft. It is now in its second edition. He is married to Jojo Moyes – international best-selling author.

Topic: Big Data Revolution: the Big Picture

Chief Executive – Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Chris Garcia was appointed as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chief Executive in June 2013. Chris has a background in both public and private sector leadership roles and an in-depth knowledge of building economic development partnerships working with the public, private, education and voluntary sectors. One of Chris’s first early senior roles was as a partner at KPMG, focusing on the private sector in the South West. He later ran his own successful family business, providing new technology and knowledge sharing support to both government departments and major technology firms. Previously Chris also worked as the Director of Enterprise and Skills at the South West Regional Development Agency and for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). His senior management experience has included 13 years as a non-executive director of a significant charity – a leader in the field of developing people and management. Alongside this role Chris worked closely with voluntary organisations, establishing the Western Development Partnership, a major economic development partnership for the West of England. Chris is passionate about living in the South West and wants to ensure that Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay are equipped to work and succeed in a global economy, by driving economic growth and boosting jobs throughout the area.

Topic: The Heart of the South West Big Data: Current and Future

Chief Information Officer, Intelligence Optimisations Technologies Group

Alex is the Co-Founder of Intelligent Optimisations (IO) and is the company’s CIO. He is the lead architect of the IO platform, where he exploits his in-depth knowledge of and passion for computer science, big data and machine learning technologies. In addition to several startups Alex has utilised his technical knowledge and business acumen successfully in a range of senior management positions, in public and private sector companies, as CTO, COO, and most notably as the Enterprise Architect and ultimately IT Fellow within the Met Office. Alex is hugely passionate about exploiting software and systems with elegance and performance through enterprise architecture and software design, fusing technologies in new and creative ways.

Topic: Building the Reality of a Big Data Team

Managing Director, Pivigo

Dr Kim Nilsson is a Swedish national and PhD in Astrophysics from Copenhagen University, Denmark. After working four years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and later as Hubble Astronomer in the European division of the Hubble Space Telescope she decided she was ready for a career change and
came to the UK to complete an MBA at Cranfield School of Management. It was during the MBA that the initial plans for Pivigo were formed, together with her co-founder. After a short time in risk management consulting, post-MBA, she co-founded Pivigo recruitment and Pivigo academy, two London-based start-ups in the recruitment and training sector. As MD of Pivigo Academy, she is also the lead organiser of Europe’s first and largest PhD-to-Data Science programme S2DS (Science to Data Science, http://www.s2ds.org), which ran its initial programme this summer. The launch programme saw 85 analytical PhDs working on commercial data science projects with the 22 commercial partners on the programme in mini-internships. She is passionate about supporting the career transitions of academics into commercial industry, and supporting the revolution to our way of life that data science promises to bring.

Topic: Investing in Human Data Capital

Director of Information and Chief Information Officer, the Met Office

Charles is responsible for the development and implementation of the ICT Strategy and for the internal technical teams within the Technology Information Services Directorate, working closely with the Science teams to operate the High Performance Computing capability. The Met Office relies heavily upon cutting-edge IT to improve the quality of forecast services and increasingly to make those services accessible and effective for customers and the Public. Charles has worked for the Met Office in a number of senior technology roles since 2008 and, prior to that, worked in the Business-to-Business online retail and distribution industry. During this time he used relevant technologies to transform businesses from traditional retail approaches to being internet and technology capable. As well as a number of consulting appointments, Charles worked within the Premier Farnell group of companies for over 10 years. He has run his own small technology company and started his career as an Electronics Engineer in the defence industry.

Topic: Big Data: Maximising the Collaboration Effect