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Businesses come together at Ward Hadaway to debate the future of the tech sector

Law firm Ward Hadaway hosted an event which looked at the future of the tech sector as part of its support for this year's Leeds Digital Festival.

The ‘Future of Tech’ panel (from left) Simon, Tanja, Rich and Nathan.

The Top 100 law firm, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, hosted a thought-provoking panel discussion at its offices in Wellington Place, Leeds.

The panel featured Simon McCaskill, a Google Masterclass Trainer and founder of Leeds Boost, Tanja Lichtensteiger, Engineering Manager for Sky Betting & Gaming and Rich Sutcliffe, the founder of Agency for Good. The discussion was chaired by organiser Nathan Bilton, Commercial associate in Ward Hadaway’s Technology team in Leeds.

The need for regulation within the tech industry and the importance of protecting consumers was one of the issued raised by the panel. They emphasised that building and maintaining the trust of consumers is fundamental and highlighted the need for transparency across the industry.

Nathan said: “The conversation built on comments made by Tim Cook of Apple, as he referenced a need for the US to follow the EU’s GDPR recently.”

Members of the panel also called for more regulation within the industry, but were careful to reiterate the importance of ensuring that increased regulation does not stifle innovation.

“Evidently, there is a delicate balance to be struck between innovation and the protection of consumers,” says Nathan.

“There has been a sharp increase in the number of companies using technology to improve the environment and society as a whole, and looking to tackle challenges faced by local communities.”

There was a firm consensus between panelists that the growth of ‘Tech for Good’ is to be encouraged, along with a call for greater ethical codes, education and discussion around ethics in the sector.

The panel acknowledged that in order to have a sustainable business model, profit is fundamental. This provoked an engaging debate as to how the desire to promote technology for the social good can be balanced with the need for the resources, time and workforce which are all required to carry out these projects.

The challenge of diversity and social mobility within the tech industry was also on the agenda. Panelist Tanja Lichtensteiger explained that in the 18 years that she has worked within tech, the industry has become more diverse.

Nathan said: “Although the tech industry has seen a number of high-profile initiatives which have aimed to increase diversity, such as Girls Who Code, our panellists agreed that further action is needed in order to break down social barriers.”

“It’s clear from our event that more needs to be done to encourage people to consider opportunities to work in the tech sector. Hopefully everyone took something away from it.  I am delighted that we were again able to contribute to this fantastic annual festival.”

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