27 September 2016

Pitching in with a wheelbarrow at one of our community projects.

Pitching in with a wheelbarrow at one of our community projects.

Should innovation and growth come at the cost of others?

I ask this because I was angered recently when I read about landlords in Silicon Valley evicting communities from their homes to attract high-income tenants from top tech firms.

As Facebook plans a large campus expansion nearby to create a ‘new hub for tech employment’, it emerged that many residents in local buildings are being made to move to make room for these young tech professionals.

Should tech companies create such hubs by disturbing existing communities? Surely it is much better to continue living alongside each other and finding ways of improving the communities that we’re part of.

These ‘exclusive’ areas are more likely to create environments that encourage people to be less creative and innovative – surely that is not what any business leader or innovator would want?

At UKFast, we’re focussed on investing back into our community; the community that took me in, at 16, when I first moved to Manchester, without which I would not be where I am today and UKFast would not be where it is.

For me, it is the community that sets us aside and facilitates this growth. This is something I believe to be true since those early days, looking for a career. The business community took me in and encouraged me to grow and develop.

One of the ways we give back to the city is by helping to create stronger IT education in schools across Greater Manchester. We hold workshops, seminars and data centre tours, as well as setting the students challenges to engage them with IT in a tangible, interactive and exciting way.

We have a large auditorium in our campus that we offer for use to local organisations, free of charge, to help nurture this community – to bring people together and to make new friends. It’s a space for people to use, without the huge room-rental fees. We’ve had conferences and meetings, we get the Manchester Camerata coming in here to rehearse, and we’ve had a great number of graduations taking place.

It is fantastic to see all these different parts of the local community coming in to our Campus, inspiring us to create an even better work environment. I can’t imagine being as successful as we are today, if we didn’t have an open door.

What do you think about the Silicon Valley move?

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