LateRooms.com CTO Stuart Hughes wants to build 'the Barcelona of IT'

By Danny Palmer
02 Jun 2014 View Comments
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The best way to build an IT team is to do it in the style of Catalan football team FC Barcelona, by bringing through young talent at an early age and providing a working environment staff don't want to leave.

That's according to Stuart Hughes, CTO at LateRooms.com, who at age 34, is keen to provide the same opportunities he had to younger employees.

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"The days of just going to a recruitment agency and hiring developers are becoming a bit tired. And the key for what we're doing at LateRooms is we're actually creating an environment where we want people to learn and become the absolute best they can," he told Computing, before describing how his 140-strong team are encouraged to use part of the working week to improve their skills.

"On Friday afternoons we have a period where people can self-learn and often groups get together and talk about different topics and try to educate each other about what they've learned or what they're troubled about. Maybe they learn something, maybe they challenge the speaker," said Hughes.

Hughes wants his staff to be able to improve and develop their abilities in a way that's beneficial to both them as individuals and to the team as a whole.

"We're saying to our staff that you being more of an expert at your job tomorrow than you are today is something that we care about and it's something that we want," he explained, adding that creating an environment people want to stay in is also an important target for LateRooms.com.

"This is all part of wanting to create the best people we can and we want them to stay because they love working here."

It's a strategy he likened to footballing giants Barcelona, who have a history of developing young talent, including Lionel Messi, considered by many to be the best footballer in the world.

"It's about having a culture where you can take graduates or others at the start of their career and bring them through the ranks. For me it's like what Barcelona do, where they bring children through from aged 14 all the way through to the first team," Hughes told Computing.

"It's building people, encouraging them, giving them a bit more responsibility they're perhaps ready for and making sure they come through their careers and really enjoy working where they are so they help others come through," Hughes continued, adding that he's benefited from being developed in a similar fashion.

"I'm only 34 and I'm now the CTO of a major UK brand and I'm making sure I give that opportunity to everybody.

"I think that's the bit we've got to do in IT now, it's not about going to recruitment agencies and getting somebody because they're available, it's about building a pipeline of talent coming through and an environment which people don't want to leave," Hughes concluded.

Hughes joined the Manchester-based LateRooms.com in October last year. The firm has long had a good reputation as place for technology professionals to work, having been awarded UK IT Employer of the Year at Computing's UK Industry Awards in 2012.

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