ICT in New Zealand
The New Zealand technology landscape is a diverse and interesting environment made up of a variety of opportunities for the aspiring new kiwi. The industry totals around 50,000 people and while native New Zealanders make up the majority of people there is almost every conceivable nationality represented. IT is a burgeoning export darling – it sits at number five on our list of foreign export earnings. With a GDP of around $NZ20b it represents a sizeable chunk of our spending and income. On the list of the top five paid salaried roles in NZ, IT roles always occupy four of these slots.
Geographically Auckland and Wellington are the powerhouses of IT in NZ. The great majority of corporates are headquartered in Auckland and the entrepreneurial startups also feature heavily. As such the multinational vendors (IBM, Dimension Data, Fujitsu and Unisys being the largest in diminishing order) are also headquartered in Auckland. Wellington is the home of Government and those that supply services or product to Government. Regional centres tend to be small in technology and are support oriented businesses.
Broadly speaking you will likely end up finding work in one of two types of organisation; the end user of technology (public sector, enterprise and SMB corporates and so on) or a technology vendor (systems integrators, software houses, re-sellers etc). The former is focused on providing a solution to the broader organisations objectives and the IT ‘mission’ is very service centric (but no less exciting or challenging than the vendor world). The latter is businesses made up of technologists either creating, implementing, or supporting the technology itself. Both are equally important to the health and success of the overall economy.
The actual technology itself is a mix of leading/bleeding edge and legacy. In some organisations you’ll find COBOL developers sitting next to mobile applications and Silverlight gurus, whereas others focus solely on new innovative technologies. One of the greatest differences you’re likely to experience in NZ is the proliferation of small teams – it’s a simple virtue of the size of the organisations. This leads to the second main anomaly; employees are typically very broadly skilled and you’ll likely see them as a specialist rather than a generalist.
This environmental aspect leads directly to the prevalent attitudes of kiwi technologists. We are a nation of doers (more than leaders) and pride ourselves on our can-do mindset. We foster thinking in solutions not problems and love a spirited debate. Hierarchy is rarely a hindrance and you should not be surprised to see a developer disagreeing about a resolution or feature with the CEO. This mentality also manifests itself as companies punching above their weight and the businesses that buy the solutions taking risks you may not ordinarily associate with corporates.