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The Tech Sector in Manawatū is Thriving

THE TECH SECTOR IN MANAWATŪ IS THRIVING

In the fast-moving tech world, working 14 years for one company is a pretty long time. But Craig Webb of Integration Technologies Ltd (ITL) wouldn't have it any other way.
A born and bred Palmerston North lad, he's proud to be part of a Manawatū company that's been quietly developing world-leading tech for 25 years.
“I explain it to people like this. We're a forecourt controller - we automate petrol stations and make sure that the pump, the EFTPOS system and underground tanks are all playing nicely with each other.

“I started here 14 years ago as an intern. Over the years doors have opened for me to move up the ladder, and now I’m the Lead Developer for our Cloud and Mobile services.”

"It’s a pretty big job, especially when you’ve got 30,000 petrol stations to look after. “One of our bigger clients is Shell - we provide their point-of-sale systems for all of Asia. I’m actually travelling to Hong Kong in a week or two! Me and my team leader are meeting the customer in person, it's always productive to run through ideas face to face. Travelling to places like Thailand and the Philippines is a pretty great perk.”

Someone else who sees the career development opportunities that abound in regional New Zealand's innovative companies such as ITL, is Support Coordinator Ella Wilton. Ella is one of the team’s newest staff members. A born problem solver, she’s the first point of contact for customers all over the world if an issue crops up.

“I was headhunted actually,” laughs Ella. “I was working at Massey University as a part of their IT team, and I got a message from ITL asking ‘can we take you out for coffee?’ I met with a few members of the team, and they made me an offer I couldn't really say no to!”

Since she joined them, Ella’s noticed how positive ITL’s work approach is. “It feels really close-knit compared to some organisations I've been a part of in the past. Other places had so many layers of middle managers, senior managers - here, the Managing Director sits 10 metres away from me. The difference is just staggering.”

The tech sector in Manawatū is also thriving and larger than she expected. “I've been continuously surprised - there’s a lot of tech companies here but we don’t always hear about them. Just last week we had Techweek celebrations, with quite a few events here in Palmy. Bringing the sector together is ManawaTech, which runs regular networking meet-ups - pretty much everyone in tech here knows and follows them.”

Life isn’t all about work though - and Craig loves having enough time to sink his teeth into interesting projects. “My commute to work is a 10-minute bike or electric skateboard ride, so you get a lot of time back. Right now, I’m restoring a Mini Cooper from the early 80s, adding solar panels to the roof of my house, and on Wednesdays I pretty much religiously go to a friend's house and work on cars with him after work.

“Me and my mates are all into wakeboarding and snowboarding. For the snow that’s up to Mt Ruapehu, for wakeboarding it’s a bit all over the place - sometimes the Manawatū River or the Foxton Cable Park, other times we go to the Pātea Dam in Taranaki. We can do a day trip, it’s a nice little drive from here.”

For Ella, the outdoors is also a big part of the appeal. “I actually have a photography side business - it’s been going strong for two years, so I’m shooting nearly every weekend in summer. I grew up as a horse rider, and now I photograph competitions. I can see my friends, get my horse fix.”

“I'm also going to do some more exploring of Wellington - my partner Matt is in Petone, so it’s easy to pop down with the highway coming further and further north.”

She’s not looking to join them any time soon though. “I’m pretty happy here in Palmy - I often say it’s got everything you need.”

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