Neil Casey, Global Head of Sourcing and Strategic Hiring At Thoughtworks

If you don’t experience some disruption in your career then do you even have the opportunity to adapt, evolve and get better? Our ‘Let’s Get Disruptive’ podcast series sees us talking to some of the leading figures in the tech community to discuss the disruptions they have come across in their careers and the best learnings they have gained from them.

We were delighted to welcome our latest guest, Global Head of Sourcing and Strategic Hiring at ThoughtWorks, Neil Casey, to come and discuss innovation, evolution and the importance of failure.

Neil has an impressive background – he originally started in agency recruitment and then progressed to work with some of the most respected recruitment teams around the world. In our latest podcast, he shares his journey over the last 16 years in technology recruitment, including the highs and lows. He also gives us an insight into why challenges are essential, but it is hard work and determination that separate the good from the great.

Make sure you check out the podcast to truly benefit from his words of wisdom, but this summary should give you a taster of the gems in store.

The relationship between company ethos and recruitment

At ThoughtWorks’ core is the fact that its founder is political activity Roy Neville Singham. Roy’s belief and commitment to social justice has permeated the very fabric of the company.

Roy is a political activist who is a vocal participant in the social justice movement. As well as seeing ThoughtWorks as a company that could disrupt the tech industry and find the brightest thinkers and problem solvers to create solutions to clients, Roy also saw the organisation as an opportunity to look at technology and its impact on the communities around us.

Striving for accessible and inclusive technology for all has become part of what ThoughtWorks stands for and it has become a major driver in its recruitment programme.

Questions about social justice has become a really important part of the interview process and interestingly, is often candidates’ favourite part of the interview. It’s not about their CV and subject matter but what they believe in and how they would improve diversity and innovation within the industry.

This ‘filter’ is designed to drive the cultural growth of the company. Crucially, it’s not about everyone being the same, but about having a complementary balance of opinions so the business can evolve and grow.

It has led to the employees at ThoughtWorks being an extremely dedicated bunch, with them feeling fundamentally and emotionally aligned to the brand and what the company stands for.

This alignment has emerged as one of ThoughtWorks’ strongest drivers in recruitment, with the employees even identifying as ‘ThoughtWorkers’.

The evolution of Manchester

It’s safe to say that ThoughtWorks is committed to Manchester in a very tangible way. Even their meeting rooms are inspired by local inspirations – Turing, Emmeline and Hacienda. But how does Neil see Manchester’s growth as a tech hub and digital city?

The growth of Manchester is phenomenal, as is the evolution of the city over the past five years.

Something that has driven this is the sheer level of investment around the city – Manchester is now easily at the forefront of the UK’s media industry and the regeneration of places like Ancoats and the Northern Quarter is commendable.

Manchester has historically been the ‘cool’ city. It doesn’t have the pomp and circumstance of London and the warmth of the region is palpable.

Thanks to the start-up scene, the digital agency pop-ups, the airport and the impact of the Chinese market, Manchester can now be seen as a legitimate digital hub.

Harnessing the power of a challenge

In our podcast, Neil and Sean discussed how challenges can often be seen as the best part of a career as that’s where you arguably learn the most.

Having found himself in a job at one of the top three largest digital creative agencies in the world, Neil was surprised to find himself realising within the first month of being there that it wasn’t a good fit for him.

He lost motivation, knew he wasn’t doing a good job and then subsequently quit his job a mere month before Christmas, with nowhere else to immediately go to.

However, this led to him getting back to doing what he loved – hands-on recruitment. This, in turn, led to him finding his place at ThoughtWorks, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Neil is happy to admit ‘that failure was the best thing that has happened in my career because it’s been the foundation for everything else afterwards.’

His advice is that you’ve got to be open and self-reflective. Understand where you are responsible and where you weren’t, and accept the fact that some things will never be under your control.

As ever, we end our podcast with a quote, with Neil’s favourite being: “I’m prepared to do today what no-one else is, so that I can do tomorrow what no-one else can” which is from Matt Fraser at Crossfit.

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