David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

David Parkin joins Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran

BEYONCE, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Coldplay.

Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium has played host to some of the world’s biggest names in entertainment.

This week it was my turn.

Now admittedly, I didn’t appear in front of the size of crowd that Queen B and Jay Z are used to.

And I didn’t whip my audience into the kind of frenzy that Take That can induce.

But then again, they weren’t focusing on human resources and payroll services.

I was at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to host the Northern Business Forum for ADP.

The US-based group is one of the global leaders in HR and payroll services and is listed on the NASDAQ market in New York and ranked at 248 in the Fortune 500.

It’s UK operation is better known in the South of England and so this week’s event was part of ADP’s plans to raise its profile in the North.

I met Matt Roberts of ADP years ago when we both worked in neighbouring offices in the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds.

And so more than 10 years later, when he was looking to deliver a successful business forum he knew exactly who to call to host it.

Fortunately they were engaged and I answered my phone.

The event, in a smart second floor suite overlooking the lush Etihad pitch, featured two keynote speakers and a panel discussion which I chaired.

The first speaker was Bob Brown, chief information officer at Manchester City Council.

With his slick haircut, white teeth and sharp jacket and tie, Bob looks more like a Sky Sports presenter rather than  a bloke from the council.

But times are changing.

He explained that the council works closely with global technology groups like Google to enable its 7,500 employees to deliver services to a population of 600,000.

He played a short film which showed how the traditional office desk – complete with printer, calendar, rolodex and even a globe had now all been replaced by apps on a laptop, phone or tablet.

Bob, who has spoken at events across the world, revealed that as well as having a lot of respect for ADP, one of the other reasons he had agreed to speak is that he and Matt are the two opening bowlers for the cricket team in the picturesque Yorkshire village of Ripley.

“I wish Matt was a bit quicker, but there you go,” he told the audience.

The other keynote speaker was Annabel Jones, UK HR director at ADP.

She highlighted a recent survey that the firm has published called The People Unboxed Report.

It looks at why we go to work, what makes people unhappy at work, how employers can spot those thinking of leaving and how to address the work-life imbalance.

When it comes to why people go to work, perhaps unsurprisingly just over half the respondents said the main reason is to pay for things that they either need or want.

But interestingly 49% of those questioned said money wasn’t their principal driver and they go to work to either learn and grow in their career, because they love what they do or they like the company they work for and the people they work with.

So an almost equal split between pay and job satisfaction.

Annabel pointed out that one per cent of those who took the survey said they go to work for “something else”.

I’m still wondering what that might be.

Given we are told that younger people today – the so-called ‘millennials’ and ‘generation Z’ – are driven less by salary and more by job satisfaction, the survey actually found they have a similar balance of reasons to go to work as older employees.

Annabel told me that she began her career with a dotcom start-up – and unlike many of those ventures which went pop around the millennium, it was successful in the travel sector and eventually sold to Sky.

Annabel went on to work in both the music and film industry before joining ADP in 2014.

Bob and Annabel were joined for the panel discussion by employment lawyer Laura McLellan, a director in the Leeds office at international law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

I know I often take the mickey out of lawyers but I got some truly valuable advice and counsel from her colleagues Matthew Lewis and the firm’s now managing partner John Alderton while I was at TheBusinessDesk.com.

Laura told a story about a FTSE 250 chief executive who has set up a scheme within the organisation which sees senior executives mentored by millennials who work there.

It has the twin benefits of giving the more junior staff a unique skill to add to their CV and allowing the senior team to better understand how younger people think, act and work.

Also on the panel was Jason Davenport, chair of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP).

Jason told the audience: “I know nobody ever left school saying ‘I want to be a payroll professional’ but it’s my job to change that!”

He used to work at Capita but now runs his own consultancy.

In his role as chair of the CIPP, this year Jason is speaking at conferences in Los Angeles, Canada and South Africa.

I commented that it resembles Beyonce’s world tour schedule.

Jason is a Liverpool fan, the team who are currently neck-and-neck with Manchester City vying for the Premier League title.

Just before the forum started he visited the toilets where one of the taps was a bit lively and sprayed water all over his suit.

“They must know I’m a Red!” he chuckled.


THE Sportcity campus in Manchester is a truly impressive development, not only home to the 48,000 seat Etihad Stadium but also to the National Squash Centre, the 6,500 seat Manchester Regional Arena, English Institute of Sport, Manchester Velodrome and the Tennis Centre as well as a state-of-the-art gymnasium.

However it doesn’t have everything.

When I asked one of of the ladies serving lunch at the stadium where was the best place on the the campus to have a coffee meeting with a contact she shook her head.

“There aren’t any places like that love. Your best bet is Asda across the flyover.”


DID you know it was World Book Day yesterday and it is International Women’s Day today?

One encourages people to go to school or work dressed as their favourite character from a book and the other supports efforts to “help forge a more gender balanced world”.

Now let’s just say I got the two confused and went to work yesterday balancing a book on my head.

So what does that mean I have to do today?

Does my bum look big in this?

Have a great weekend.


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