Having committed £12m to Sky Betting & Gaming’s ongoing recruitment drive, Brand & HR Director Rob Painter details to SBC the corporate and leadership challenges of undertaking such a significant initiative as the igaming and betting sectors’ drastically change.
Painter details SB&G’s governance approach, its commitment to driving talent acquisition in Yorkshire and why the igaming and betting industries should no longer consider themselves ‘niche sectors’.
SBC: Can you detail to SBC readers your ongoing recruitment drive, why was this initiative needed by Sky Betting & Gaming operations?
Rob Painter: Over the last 10 years, Sky Betting & Gaming has successfully grown from a start-up to one of the top four online betting and gaming companies in the UK. In March 2015, we became an independent company, with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners taking 80% ownership of the business and Sky retaining 20%. This has given us the ‘best of both worlds’. We have retained the invaluable support, branding, integration and promotion of our colleagues in Sky Sports, but also been able to take a longer term approach to decision making and there is more appetite for investment, thus our recent announcement that we are investing £11 million in people, buildings and marketing as we look to expand our products and services. 200 new positions have been created in a range of departments across the business, including technology, product development, marketing and customer service. This is a really exciting time for SB&G and all of our available opportunities can be seen at www.skybetcareers.com .
SBC: Undertaking such a large scale recruitment drive is no easy task. How has this challenged Sky Betting and Gaming operations, management and leadership?
RP: It is tough and the digital and technology space in Leeds in particular is extremely competitive. Adding an office in Sheffield has gone some way to alleviate this issue and we are constantly looking for new sources of talent to keep pace with our growth plans. We’re also rebuilding our people lifecycle strategies following the carve-out from Sky to ensure that we recruit and retain the very best people. We are supporting our recruitment drive with a £250,000 marketing campaign that highlights our challenging, fast paced and exciting working environment. In it, we wanted to capture the pace, scale and challenge the work we do brings, particularly in technology, so it was important to lead with this message. We want to hear from people who are energetic, analytical and passionate about building a career in an exciting digital business. We want individuals who will thrive on working in an agile environment.
SBC: Looking at the current igaming/betting value chain, what overall industry skillsets and competencies are lacking? What dynamics are most valued by betting operators in a saturated market?
RP: We work hard to ensure that Sky Betting & Gaming remains one of the best places to work in the industry but we also have an ambition to become the best digital business in the UK. A massive factor in that is ensuring we have the right people. It’s imperative that we invest in employees and their working environment to make sure they can achieve their absolute best, helping their personal development and simultaneously the needs of the company. We’re looking for the very best individuals, which is often more about candidates having the right attitude and potential rather than solely focusing on experience. The most valuable people to us tend to come from other ecommerce businesses that, like us, put customer experience first in everything they do.
SBC: The SB&G team has placed a high emphasis on employee diversity, in your opinion should the igaming/betting sectors no longer consider itself a niche industry?
RP: I don’t think it is niche anymore. There are some specialist roles that need certain IMS experience etc. but on the whole we need strong digital talent from marketing, product and technology to keep driving our business forward. The use of data has also meant we’re doing things on the scale of retailers like Amazon and that means that storing, accessing and leveraging our commercial data as effectively as possible is key to success.
SBC: How important has the City of Leeds and Yorkshire been to the development of Sky Betting & Gaming as a business?
RP: When we moved across from Harrogate to Leeds in 2010 we were confident that, thanks to its wealth of technology talent and historical links to sport, the city was the perfect place to develop our business. We are incredibly proud to be based in Leeds. It offers very strong recruitment of technical staff and has become an internet hub. We are moving to a ‘three hub’ strategy in the UK in 2015/16 and will continue to invest in Yorkshire, creating an additional 200 jobs, which will be based in our Leeds HQ, a new customer hub also to be located in Leeds city centre or our recently opened Sheffield technology hub. This will bring our Yorkshire workforce to over 900 employees. This is a vote of confidence not only in our own plans to make betting and gaming better but also in the health of the Yorkshire economy. It is vital that we build a great talent pool for the benefit of all companies in Yorkshire and beyond.
SBC: Finally and most importantly what is your favourite Yorkshire attraction?
RP: Headingley, where I’ve spent many a great day watching the cricket!