Richard Acreman, Partner, WM Reply

A LEADING firm is doing its part to ensure ‘tech doesn’t stop at London’ by launching its Chester Academy to recruit and train graduates to a high standard and properly prepare them to work at the company and understand the sector it operates in.

WM Reply, which has UK offices in London and Chester, is committed to ensuring firms do not perpetuate the idea that tech and tech jobs are only based in the south. Its Chester Academy now offers a chance for graduates to work for them in the sector without having to relocate to the south thus providing vital regional opportunities.

According to The Tech National Report 2017, the UK is home to 8 of Europe’s top 20 universities, more than any other European country. Yet although the report shows the picture is changing, the tech industry is still disproportionately based with the M25.

Helping to buck this trend, WM Reply’s Chester Academy has recruited graduates to work in their highly successful firm, which builds world-class intranets and business solutions with Microsoft Technology.

The company’s mission is to build the world’s best Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 solutions to help organisations overcome business challenges. Academy graduates have taken on a number of roles at the firm from consultants and project managers to SharePoint developers and support staff.

But with 1.64 million digital tech jobs in the UK and the sector creating new jobs twice as fast as the non-digital sector, Chester Academy, based in Crook Street, Chester, is more than just a place to recruit and train graduates to work for WM Reply. Its training also makes them ready for the world of business, which typically many graduates seem to have little idea about.

Richard Acreman, Partner at WM Reply, explains: “The idea behind the academy was not only to recruit and nurture tech talent, but to give graduates training in some of the more basic but fundamentally important things they are unlikely to have learnt about in the academic world.

“Graduates who earn a place at Chester Academy get a comprehensive induction and training programme so they understand what we do and how we work. Naturally, we also teach them about the product and share our passion for Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365.

“But more than that, we show them vital things that people new into the workforce often have no idea about, like how to record and fill in an expenses form, important aspects of human resources, and other procedures they need to know but are generally not taught at university.”

And whilst the academy has already filled its first intake, WM will be accepting new applications for 2018.

Richard said: “WM Reply is a great team of people who work closely to get the best outcomes for our clients. We are passionate about what we do and that translates to a great working environment for graduates and everyone who joins our team.”

About WM Reply: Founded by Richard Acreman, originally as WM 360, in London during December 2010. Quickly after, along came Alastair Cashen and Stephen Monk. Their first project was for Vodafone Global Enterprise in 2011, which allowed the team to grow and employ a developer team in Minsk.

In 2012-2013 they grew globally and opened offices in Chester, Auckland, New York and Australia. In 2016, WM 360 split into two areas, Australia and Europe. Europe joined the Reply network and now work alongside the other Reply UK technology companies. The Europe side of the company is headquartered in London and has offices in Chester and Minsk.

Since Richard started the company, the team has grown to over 60 employees and won contracts with numerous major global brands.

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