Jacqueline de Rojas is as cool as you’d want the president of tech trade body techUK to be.
And now, she’s leaving her day job as VP of Northern Europe at flexible working software specialist Citrix to join Newcastle’s Sage. Which is massive news for Brexit Britain.
Sage is a symbol of what we want the government’s Northern Powerhouse rhetoric to truly be about.
The finance software specialist was actually founded up north back in the 80s – no unsustainable upstart – it’s FTSE 100 listed and profitable, and it’s been investing in its city’s startup scene through things like sponsorship of Campus North.
de Rojas will be leading a 2,000-strong team out of Newcastle as head of the company’s northern European operations.
In a chat with NS Tech ahead of the announcement, de Rojas said: “I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
“At techUK, we think we have to coerce the government into creating smart immigration plans. But this is also about creating our own skills domestically.
“We have to make it clear that it’s not just London. And now we’ve got a purpose, which is ‘oh my god, if we don’t do it now we will not be a digital nation of significance’.”
She said she is concerned that early Brexit conversations have focused on the toxic debate around immigration. But only in the short-term.
“Uncertainty anywhere is never a good thing,” she agrees. “But the tone of the country has to be that we’re open for business and open to all races. Inclusion has to be big. It will be a disaster if we move away from that inclusive agenda.”
“But it’s domestic skills that could be the golden key to the nation striding forward confidently. We’ve got to change the culture of the whole country, that is the opportunity. To re-energise and move forwards.”
techUK has already released a detailed five-point plan for Brexit, covering talent as well as re-negotiation of access to the Digital Single Market, data, infrastructure and the overall government strategy.
With de Rojas still at the helm, but with a greater focus on the rest of the UK in her new role, this could be the thing that turns Brexit into.. Brexitunity?