A week or so ago, I announced my intention to apply for the soon-to-be-vacant role of Tech City Investment Organisation chief executive. It was my hope that in publicising my vision for the quango’s future, based on the results of our exhaustive report, I might be able to influence the selection process and thereby the future trajectory of the organisation.
But I’ve realised that pressure group candidacies are almost always counterproductive. One doesn’t want to turn into UKIP in 2009, or Ralph Nader in 2000. I mean, Christ, I’d never forgive myself if someone like Ben Hammersley got the job. So I started thinking about what kind of person The Kernel should be supporting.
And then it hit me. All this time we’ve been thinking: which poor failed entrepreneur with a hide as thick as a rhino’s should be put in the firing line next, when what we really need is a clean break and a fresh perspective. We need someone with bona fide private sector credentials and not too many skeletons in the closet who can sweep away the cobwebs and restore credibility to the embattled quango.
It should also be someone capable of cutting through the old boys’ network of tech that particularly dominates the investment community. And, given that the role is 95 per cent advocacy, perhaps it should be someone with a gift for communication and subtle persuasion alongside a pragmatic, cost-cutting attitude.
What we really need is a woman. One never hears the end of tiresome whining about the under-representation of women in the tech industry: this would go a long way to silencing the whingers. I’m not advocating for positive discrimination, by the way: I’m simply recognising the unique talents a woman could bring to bear on what is part sales job and part remedial surgery.
Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have someone who can tell the young start-ups of Shoreditch to man up and stop expecting everything to be handed to them on a plate? A strong woman with a proven track record of fundraising and execution would be far better placed than the current administration to tackle the entitlement culture of Silicon Roundabout.
And that gives me another thought: can we please make it an American? The quality of our home-grown female talent is pretty low, and the number of women in the UK able to do this sort of job and up for it vanishingly small. But just glancing through my address book, I see the names of a dozen ambitious and effective female executives from California and New York who would be ideal candidates to tackle the wastefulness and wrongheaded public relations strategies Tech City has pursued so far.
Consider Carol Bartz, Marissa Mayer, Meg Whitman, Virginia Rometty and Sheryl Sandberg. All were either brought in after disastrous tenures by men who screwed up their organisation’s PR and rode budgets into the ground, or were seconded to keep flighty men under control.
There’s a reason women are so often parachuted in to do remedial work where men have screwed up, or to keep the chaps in check. Because it’s time to restore some sense into the Government’s £2.1 million annual investment, and I’ve come to the conclusion that only a woman can pull it off.
If you’re interested in applying for the Tech City job, you can get all the information you need here. But you’d best be sure you’re ready. Because it just so happens I’ve got my eye on the perfect candidate, and I’m going to do all I can to persuade her to apply – and everything in my modest power to help her land the job.
Watch this space.