Sitting down last week with Ismail Mulla of the Yorkshire Post’s Business arm, our Managing Director, Sarah Pawson chatted about how Fruition Consulting is flourishing in the face of adversity, addressing the skills shortage in tech and why it’s vital that the industry highlights more female role models.

Back in 2008, just before the financial crisis hit, Sarah – with over seven years of experience in IT recruitment, and eager for a new adventure – set out to build her own recruitment agency specialising in technology roles.

Fast forward 12 years and Fruition IT is now a trusted recruiter for the Yorkshire tech sector, and with the creation of Fruition Consulting in 2019 – once again against a backdrop of adversity – the Fruition Group moved seamlessly into the consulting space.

Setting up Fruition Consulting was a “natural progression” for the business, Sarah explains, given Fruition IT’s existing resourcing capability and the increased demand from clients for additional value. Now sitting alongside the recruitment business, we’re able to offer additional services to clients looking to outsource work or secure a team for a particular project.

“We’ve partnered with a number of big brands, providing them with staffing solutions over the years. We understand our clients’ needs.”

Whilst the arrival of Covid-19 in the first months of the consultancy could have derailed our plans, Sarah’s affinity for navigating turbulent times and the team’s positive response to the ensuing tech boom saw growth exceeding expectations. Still in our first year, we’ve already amassed a network of over 60 associates, a figure we expect to double before the year is over given the wider demand for flexible workforces seen across the sector and around the country.

“The market has changed and how the workforce looks in organisations,
particularly post-Covid, is going to change significantly over the coming years. Companies are looking for much more flexible solutions.”

Now Managing Director of two successful businesses, Sarah credits her resilience to the independence granted by her parents early on, the lessons learned at the start of her career and her natural entrepreneurial flair.

But Sarah asserts that resilience alone won’t tackle the skills shortage seen across the sector. Problems like under-representation can only be solved with increased investment into apprenticeships, and providing more female role models in order to encourage more young women to choose a career in tech.

This starts, she suggests, in schools. Rarely presented as a “cool” choice of career, Sarah feels that changing the discourse around roles in tech would help to address the skills gap and the problem of under-representation – in particular the lack of women entering the industry.

“Stereotypes are created at a really young age. People have a perception of what a career in tech looks like. That’s one of the starting problems and we’re addressing that too late.”

The solution, she suggests, is paying attention to the brilliant women already occupying the tech space and presenting them as role models at a much earlier stage. Operating apprenticeship programmes on “a much larger scale” is another way Sarah believes young people can be encouraged to pursue careers in tech.

Speaking on the specific appeal of the Leeds tech sector, Sarah adds “It’s always been a really collaborative place to work. Whether you work for the same organisation or not is irrelevant” and this openness to collaboration hasn’t dwindled in the face of a pandemic. In fact, Sarah believes that the resulting shift in how UK businesses recruit their talent – with employees now seeking greater autonomy in how and where they work – can only encourage collaborative efforts, and offer increased developmental opportunities for the people and companies involved.

Already we’re seeing an uptake in London-based firms approaching Fruition Consulting to build remote teams out in the city region, given the shift to more flexible workforces, and the tech talent pool that Leeds boasts.

As for the future of the Fruition Group, Sarah’s aim is to extend Fruition IT’s reputation as a “prominent solution provider in the Yorkshire tech market” into the consulting space – with Fruition Consulting leading the way – and build on the solid position that she’s established over the past 13 years.

You can read the full interview by Ismail Mulla in the Yorkshire Post here.