Codify boss aims to make the Granite City’s ICT voice heard
As managing director of Codify, a business software firm based
in Aberdeen, Graeme Humphrey has to work hard to bring in the right
Occupying the same turf as oil and gas companies that can offer
big bucks to talented workers has been part of the problem, the
The central belt's position as the stronghold of Scotland's
information and communications technology (ICT) sector has also
contributed to the underdevelopment of the industry in the
north-east, he said.
Mr Humphrey, who returned to Aberdeen to join Codify in 2001
after two years at Goldman Sachs in London, feels he is now in a
position to address the issue and make the north-east's voice
He was recently appointed to the board of the country's ICT
trade body, ScotlandIS, which has about 250 members and is based in
Linlithgow, and has called for more "joined-up thinking" between
the central belt and Aberdeen.
"I'm keen on raising the profile of Aberdeen on the board," the
38-year-old said, adding: "They are only a few hundred miles apart,
but there is a big distinction between Aberdeen and the central
belt - different industries, different people, different
"This is an opportunity to highlight some of the issues in
Aberdeen - for example, the downturn, how to revamp the industry to
lower its cost base and how to recruit the talent we need.
"People tend to get stuck at big oil companies where they get
paid a lot more. A company like Codify can't possibly match
Mr Humphrey, an Aberdeen University graduate in computer
science, may have got involved at just the right time, given that
ScotlandIS has been chosen to run the country's new digital skills
The academy, slated to open in Edinburgh in September, aims to
tackle Scotland's shortage of software developers, with forecasts
suggesting 11,000 new entrants a year are needed.
But Codify has been proactive in its efforts to recruit people
and could teach other firms a lesson in how to offer an effective
The fact that Codify offers them at all distinguishes it from
hundreds of other firms, while the nature of its paid undergraduate
placements is a far cry from the fairly aimless, humdrum schemes
many of us remember from our schools days.
For a start, the recruitment process is full on, with
prospective entrants required to submit a CV and cover letter,
complete a technical challenge and pass an interview.
Successful applicants work for Codify's software maintenance
helpdesk for a year, which teaches them a lot of skills that are
hard to get in academia.
The ultimate aim, of course, is to create skilled professionals
that want to work for Codify, whose headcount has gone from one in
2000 to 25.
Mr Humphrey said: "If we're hiring someone and we see they've
done a year-long placement, that's a big tick from our perspective.
It's a big commitment but the reward is worth it.
"It's a good chance to get them in recruitment pipeline. For
someone who wants to come back to Codify following a placement
because they know it's a great place to work, in terms of an
induction they just walk in the door."
New recruits still have plenty of work to do, even though orders
are coming in less frequently from clients in the trouble-hit oil
and gas industry.
Mr Humphrey said: "Everyone right now is conscious about
spending money on any sort of discretionary project.
"Last year, we would have dealt with a budget owner who wouldn't
have had to justify a project as much as he is now. In this
(current) climate, projects are being scrutinised all the way up to
board level. It is challenging."
He is convinced that software updates could be just the ticket
for struggling businesses.
The common theme of services offered by Codify, which turned
over £1.5million last year, is to improve access to key data and
help managers make informed decisions.
"It's very hard to do consolidated management reporting because
everything is held in separate spreadsheets around the globe in
different versions," Mr Humphrey said.
He added: "We can centralise all these spreadsheets in one
database and improve access to the data to help our clients make
"If an organisation is looking to control cost or work more
efficiently, software is one of the answers to that problem."