Birmingham Tech 2030: Growing the Diverse Talent Pipeline

14 October 2020

On 14th October, we hosted the second of our two Birmingham Tech Week events, alongside TIN Smart Social, and GBSLEP: Birmingham Tech 2030 – growing the diverse talent pipeline.

We were delighted to welcome three fantastic panellist (see below) to discuss the following questions. You can watch the full session below.

Questions for our panellists:

What barriers do we need to overcome to ensure diversity is a given not a challenge by Birmingham Tech 2030?

How do we create more innovators that self-identify as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs?

How do we develop a diverse talent pipeline that meets the employability needs of the future?


Dan Hoff Rodrigues

Dan Hoff-Rodrigues is the founder of {CX}² Talent solutions, a community focused talent recruitment business, which aims to invest time and profits in creating an equal platform for all sectors of society and inspire young people to seek careers in technology. 

Dan’s commitment to the digital skills gap has been recognised via his appointment to the West Midlands Digital Skills Partnership Board where he represents Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and being named Community Lead for Digital Skills by Birmingham Tech.

Kari Lawler

Kari Lawler was accepted onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) incubator at just 14 years old, where she became the youngest ever start-up and entrepreneur on the Innovation Birmingham campus, providing knowledge and expertise for businesses in the subject of AI. 

Kari’s rapid rise ithin the tech world has been acknowledged with multiple awards, including her winning the coveted UK Space Agency SatelLife challenge ‘18, for her AI proposal. Was the youngest ever nominee and winner at of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Future Face of Technology & Innovation ’18. Plus, most recently in acknowledgement of the work she is doing to help businesses and young people understand AI, was named Barclays Entrepreneur Awards ‘19 “Icon of the Year” winner for the Midlands region.

Additionally, she has now at the age of 17 years old become an inspirational and in-demand event speaker, a champion of young entrepreneurship and Generation Z voices, plus has spent the last couple of years building up and running her AI youth initiative, YOUTH4AI. Through which, she has introduced thousands of young minds, many from disadvantaged backgrounds to the topic of AI and Data Ethics.

Plus, she has become an active member of regional politics, championing youth voices and diversity within digital and digital skills policy. She currently sits on the West Midlands Young Combined Authority board in which she has been appointed portfolio co-lead for both digital and skills, and also sits as an official observer for the West Midlands 5G Board.

Darren Campbell

Director at Capgemini, Enterprise Advisor at LEAN

Darren has worked within the IT industry for more than 24 years in roles that have ranged from Technology Architect to Chief Technology Officer. Most recently he has been leading & transforming IT Professional Services organisations, with large scale skills development being a key facet. Throughout his working career he has supported community development initiatives in economically challenged parts of London through developing career strategies with Schools, establishing relationships between education & business, supporting events and mentoring. 

“I truly believe that our ability to drive growth can be significantly enhanced if we proactively search for   diverse talent and ‘polish the abundance of rough diamonds’ that exist. Increased diversity reduces group think, which subsequently results in more innovation and opportunities for economic advancement…. We need to look in different places for such talent, whilst we also need to empower these individuals and leverage the power of role models to fully unleash their potential.”

Harry Paige

Engagement & Delivery Manager at Digital Innovators

“I joined the Digital Innovators team as an intern following graduating from the University of Birmingham in 2019. After my 3-month stint, I was taken on full time, focusing initially on working with our employer partners. This gave me the opportunity to grow within the business, both personally and professionally, and I’m now delighted to be working in a new role as Engagement and Delivery Manager! Within this role I am the primary point of contact between students and our clients, ensuring that not only are all parties are happy but that they are both growing within the Digital Innovators process. Truth be told, I joined Digital Innovators with little understanding about how the programme worked or how this seemingly simple process really did change lives. However, during the last 18 months observing this journey, I have seen for myself how the young people we work with – who often join us feeling a bit lost – develop the skills and confidence of someone businesses dream of employing. The change within a student’s eyes from day one to day one-hundred has driven my passion for Digital Innovators. 

The need for growing diversity is not unique to the tech workplace. In my opinion, the UK’s policy and societal failings have contributed to not only the stagnation of social mobility for many communities and marginalised groups but also the denial of opportunities for countless talented individuals. This lack of inclusion has a big impact on all sectors. We not only deny everyone access to the gifts, talents and contributions of those we have directly and indirectly excluded but we also create a poverty of relationship too. Differences from communities is the most powerful fuel for our greatest creativity. Diversity strengthens relationships, binds communities and empowers workplaces. What happens if we get recruitment and promotion opportunities right and achieve diversity? We gain a workforce that is truly equipped for the present and future. 

Everyone deserves the feeling of being at home both at work and in society. The feeling of safety and reassurance. Often, we need to create an environment that replicates this feeling. A place in which communities and individuals feel safe and welcome. However, sometimes this sense of belonging is within an individual. For young people, we often feel disconnected and disenchanted with the world. We are often disillusioned with what we see in the streets which can more often than not, lead to a feeling of being lost. Within the Digital Innovators program, we confront this issue. We equip young people with the skills needed to guide themselves through the world they have become often so disassociated with. 

I am deeply passionate about enabling access to career opportunities for all young people and that’s why I’m delighted to be joining the panel discussion at the Birmingham Tech 2030: Growing the diverse talent pipeline’ online event as part of Birmingham Tech Week 2020.”

Panellist Chair: