Cornwall’s largest software company is set to grow even bigger after it announced ambitious plans to recruit up to 2,000 people over the next five to 10 years.
Headforwards, a partner of the Cornwall Live EDGE Awards, has already grown from a handful of staff when it started out five years ago to 100 today.
Its founders Craig Girvan and Toby Parkins are now looking to grow 10 to 20 fold over the next 10 years and attract some of the brainiest coders and tech engineers in the industry.
Competitive industry waves, not having to commute for two hours on the Tube and being in beautiful Cornwall with its sandy surf breaks and broadband speeds which put London to shame, are key to recruiting the next Headforwards techies.
The 2017 Cornwall Edge Awards
“Right across the IT and software industry there is a massive problem in term of recruitment. There are simply not enough talented people to go across the industry generally,” Toby Parkins said.
“Our aim is to attract a lot of developers who want to live in a beautiful part of the country while still doing cutting edge software development.
“We have set the bar really high in term of our technological processes. We are way above some of the other global companies. We can pretty much guarantee that companies will be impressed with what we do.
“Some of the technologies and software we use is way ahead of what some of the larger firms are doing. We’re using tech and languages that did not exist three years ago.”
Toby Parkins, left, and Craig Girvan, right, co-founding directors of software development company Headforwards, based in Pool Innovation Centre (Image: Sally Adams)
Mr Girvan said growth will stop being exponential and will plateau at some point in the near future but he believes there is no reason why Headforwards, based at the Pool Innovation Centre, can’t continue to grow especially now it has signed a contract with neighbouring Cornwall College to move into larger premises on campus.
He said: “We will grow to between 1,000 and 2,000 staff. There’s no reason why we can’t achieve that. All we need is 1% of the software developers in London and the South East to be willing to move to Cornwall.
“Physical space is a problem for the whole industry. But we are problem solvers so we identified a building within the Cornwall College campus and we have signed a contract with them to rent a space in one of their buildings.”
Toby Parkins, right, and Craig Girvan, left, of Headforwards, based in Pool Innovation Centre (Image: Sally Adams)
The Headforwards co-founder said moving onto Cornwall College’s site was ideal as the company will now be closer to a pipeline of talent and will work with IT and software courses to ensure the coders of tomorrow are trained to industry standards and on software and technologies that will guarantee them jobs when they graduate.
Some 30 staff will move into the new premises at first with 70 staying put in the Pool Innovation Centre.
Mr Parkins said: “It’s beneficial for all parties involved. We will have space to grow into. They have IT courses in the building we’re moving into and we can make sure that the courses and everyone on those courses get 100% chance of getting a job at the end. It’s great opportunity for higher education providers and businesses to grow closer.
“Hopefully we can work with them, add relevance to the courses and motivate the students then they will benefit from our expertise and we’ll have access to that talent pool.”
Headforwards, which works in the Cloud, last year enjoyed a £3.9m turnover but is on course to beat its £4.7m prediction this financial year.
Mr Girvan added: “Politicians always talk about the importance of education but we find that the gap between the industry and education sectors is widening. The education sector is always playing catch up. That gap needs to close.”
Headforwards, whose clients include Fortune 500 companies with multi-billion pound turnovers across the telecoms, services, insurance, waste management and energy sectors, employs 100 staff from 20 nationalities with a third of its workforce being from Cornwall, a third from the rest of Britain and a third from the rest of the world – with a prevalence from the EU.
Cornwall EDGE Awards 2017
Mr Parkins said a flat management structure, empowering staff and teams to take responsibility with the clients for both failures and successes, the attractiveness of Cornwall itself, good wages and interesting work had allowed the company to enjoy a very high staff retention rate.
He said: “That’s what the Agile movement and methodology in the IT sector is about. It’s about giving your teams more responsibility and space to produce great software.
“If you give the whole team responsibility they will support one another and overcome challenges. When you get really good people together with the right culture they will achieve amazing things.”
Toby Parkins co-founder of Headforwards, based in Pool Innovation Centre (Image: Sally Adams)
2017 EDGE shortlist
The shortlist has been revealed for the first ever Cornwall Live EDGE Awards celebrating digital business in Cornwall.
The Awards, launched by Cornwall Live in association with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Hub and Skills Hub and with the support of some major organisations including Headforwards , Engineered Arts , Truro and Penwith College and The Smart Home Co , have been designed to celebrate Cornwall’s tech sector and its unsung heroes.
The awards night will be held on Thursday November 30, 2017 at The Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay. To purchase a ticket, go to www.cornwalllive.com/EDGEawards.
Our EDGE sponsors
Best School or College IT / Digital / Multi-Media Project
Cornwall Tech Jam – Mission Zero Project
Mission to Mars Schools Work Experience
Best Video or Animation Producer/s
Engine House VFX
Best Community/Social use of Digital
Made Open Communication
Best Internet of Things Development
British Energy Saving Technology
Duchy Defibrillators Ltd
Best Digital Media Company
Oh So Social
Marcus Kern, Duesday
Best Game Developer/s
Notte Studio Games
Most Inspirational IT / Digital / Multi-Media Teacher
Byran Wills Heath
Best Social Media Engagement Initiative
National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Oh So Social
National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Digital Rising Star
Source: Cornwall Live