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With a prospering tech sector, affordable housing market and mountains, trails and beaches within easy reach, it’s no wonder we think Waikato is an awesome place to live. Innovation, growth and a great work/life balance is exactly what you’ll find in Hamilton, just a short drive south of New Zealand’s biggest city.
We recently chatted with Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec)’s Director of IT Brad Vines (centre in photo above with Wintec Software Architect, Jourdan Templeton and Marketing Manager Tania Jones receiving two awards at the recent Microsoft Tertiary ICT Excellence Awards in Dunedin) about working in Hamilton’s IT sector, living in “the Tron”, Wintec’s place in the IT industry, and the innovation pouring out of the Waikato region.
Brad relocated to New Zealand in 1995 from Missouri USA, after meeting his Kiwi wife in London. After first settling in Auckland, then moving to Tauranga (and still commuting to Auckland) the family settled in Hamilton about seven years ago; “We were attracted to the affordable housing prices and lifestyle the region offered our family.”
Setting Hamilton apart from the rest
Hamilton is just over an hour’s drive South of Auckland, three hours North of one of New Zealand’s biggest ski fields, and less than 45mins from world-class surf and stunning beaches. Brad says that the Hamilton tech sector has “come along a lot in recent years”. The growth isn’t just within tech companies, but also within organisations and educational institutions like Wintec.
Can you tell us a bit about Wintec and where you’re placed in the NZ tech sector?
Brad: Like most higher education providers we’re both a user and a creator of technology. We’re really into tech research, innovation and creation, how the internet of things can work for us and what social good can come from it. Supporting student education is obviously key for us and we are working on systems such as white boards that allow written information to be transferred to the cloud and then making them accessible on students smart devices. Remote access and video is taking off, giving students access to lesson information when and where ever they need it.
Workplace culture a priority for IT job seekers
According to our Job Seeker Insight Report, when looking for IT jobs 43% of job seekers state flexible working hours as the top non-financial benefit an employer can offer them. Whilst the third most popular reason for IT professionals moving jobs is workplace culture. So what can IT companies and IT managers do to help retain staff?
What is the work culture like at Wintec?
Brad: We aim to create an innovation culture where we encourage new ideas and it’s safe to experiment and explore new business systems and processes. We work in an open, fun and supportive environment that stretches across the senior leadership team.
How do you balance high productivity with flexibility for your staff?
Brad: Within my team we focus on outcomes, rather than hours spent at your desk. We have great systems in place that support remote access and we don’t only support but encourage our staff to bring their own devices and use them. We also take a positive thinking approach and try to focus on solutions rather than problems. Thinking about the potential outcomes creates a great can do attitude within the team.
Areas of growth for Hamilton IT jobs
A recent Absolute IT survey showed that the biggest internal business challenge Hamilton/Bay of Plenty tech employers are facing this year is ‘attracting staff’ and ‘creating a positive workplace culture’ to hold onto the talent they’ve already got.
When it comes to expansion of the IT sector in New Zealand, many employers are planning to hire in 2015; 79% according to our February employer Insight Report.
What roles are you looking to recruit this year?
Brad: Since late 2014 we have been making some changes to our approach as an IT team, moving away from a break/fix approach to a business partnership role. The aim is to create a team of not only tech savvy individuals, but business solutions focused coaches and advisors. We’ve been recruiting business experts, program managers, platform managers, software developers with .NETand cloud experts.
What roles do you have difficulty recruiting for?
Brad: We encounter constant difficulty finding the talent we need – having a great relationship with the Absolute IT team really helps. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into recruiting team members that have both the technical and business understanding we need, and the team culture fit.
Earning potential for IT Jobs Hamilton
Our October 2015 Absolute IT Hamilton/Bay of Plenty Remuneration Snapshot shows the median base salary for tech professionals working in the region is $68,500 and 58% receive some form of additional benefit as part of their pay package (additional leave, healthcare, mobile phone etc.). We also know that 24% receive a bonus on top of their base salary and the median received is $3,500.
While tech professionals in the region are receiving a median base salary less than their neighbours in Auckland on $81,500 – it’s important to look at the bigger picture. The median house price in Hamilton/Bay of Plenty is $353,000, a huge 110% lower than Auckland at $740,000. Therefore the 16% difference in median base salary seems to add up.
IT jobs in the smaller regions
Perhaps you’ve had enough of the big smoke, or are starting a family and need the flexibility only small town living can offer. Either way, looking at an IT role in Hamilton or the wider Waikato region could be the next step in your IT career. Absolute IT’s Waikato-Bay of Plenty team are based at Level 1, 36 Bryce St in the Hamilton CBD. Get in touch today about finding an exciting new role in Hamilton’s innovative tech sector.