Former BBC boss praises quality of Leeds workforce

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FORMER BBC Director General Lord John Birt praised the quality of Yorkshire’s workforce as he opened a new data centre which helps to improve internet security.

Lord Birt said he plans to use the experience he gained in leading the BBC into the digital age to help the Host Europe Group (HEG) keep growing.

Lord Birt, who was recently appointed as non-executive chairman of HEG, was in Leeds to officially open the company’s new data centre. The new centre builds on the success of the company’s current facility on the site, which is part of a group which helps HEG to manage more than six million internet domains.

HEG, which is owned by private equity firm Cinven, is Europe’s largest privately owned hosting group. Forty four people are employed at the Leeds site, and the company hopes to hire more as demand for its services grows.

Lord Birt told the audience of employees and guests: “We aim to grow and become an even more important player now in the UK and Europe.

“What you’re seeing is actually driving a significant slice of the UK economy. This is a facility with deep roots in Leeds. We find it easy to find staff with the right skills and energy and dedication.”

Matt Mansell, HEG’s group managing director, said the company had invested £4.2m on the new centre.

He added: “Just yesterday alone we delivered 30 million email messages through this facility. In doing so, we stopped 130,000 viruses going into inboxes. Not only do we deliver the good stuff, we also stop the baddies getting out.

“From this building alone, yesterday we serviced 70 million hits to websites that are served through this building.

“We are serving up a substantial part of the internet. I tell every taxi driver that drops me off here, (when he asks) what is in this facility. ‘That is the internet. You’re looking at it.”

Mr Mansell said Leeds had everything that HEG was looking for, from a skilled workforce to the right climate.

Afterwards Lord Birt, who was BBC Director General from 1992 to 2000, said: “The group is growing very rapidly.”

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