Jim Hogan, Head of Learning and Development at Coingaming, on how the company’s pioneering Management Development Programme builds company culture and encourages promotion from within.
One of the secrets behind the growth of the Coingaming Group – from 40 employees to more than 600 in a few short years – has been our reliance on the individual growth of our people.
At senior level, we haven’t recruited as aggressively as most similar-sized gaming businesses; instead, we’re firm believers that our existing people can take both the company and themselves to the next level.
At the heart of this philosophy is our Management Development Programme (MDP), which was introduced back in August 2017.
I met Tim Heath, then CEO of the Coingaming Group and now head of Yolo Investments, earlier that year. At the time, the company was small but brimming with energy.
Most of the management had been with the business since the very beginning, and while they lacked no shortage of passion, talent and vision, they wanted to upskill on the leadership side.
That’s where the MDP came in.
Inside the programme
Each year, we invite applicants from throughout the company to join the programme. We’ll accept up to 14 of the candidates, and everyone can apply, regardless of whether they are currently in a management position or not.
The programme runs for six months across seven events, including learning workshops and project meetings. At the core of the MDP are two business projects which the delegates must complete (the candidates are split into two separate teams).
Tim personally commissions both projects and remains a key stakeholder, coach and mentor throughout the process. The idea is that the best way for the teams to learn is to build.
Supported by mentors, as well as the skills they learn from workshops, they are able to gain first-hand experience of running a business project from start to finish, communicating with stakeholders both within and outside the company.
Previous iterations of our MDP have yielded extremely positive results – both in terms of products and the experience gained by those participating.
While we appreciate that the journey is more important than the outcome for our delegates, we aim with every project is to create a product or service which can sit within the Coingaming Group long after that year’s MDP has finished.
One notable example was a ‘Live Crash’ game one MDP team delivered last year; the casino-focused product has been a huge success, and is currently hitting more than 500,000 euros in NGR per month.
But the real success stories are the people who take part in the programme.
Earlier this year we processed a raft of job promotions, and 90% of those involved had previously completed the MDP. These are people who might well have made the grade without MDP but there is no doubt it helped them hit the ground running.
Currently 10 of our 17 person senior team have completed the programme, perhaps most notably our CEO Maarja Pärt. While other gaming businesses often undertake long searches when looking to fill senior positions, we knew we were in safe hands when Tim moved his attention to Yolo Investments last year.
The MDP has also provided a significant boost in terms of retention. Of the 84 people who have successfully completed the programme, 70% are still working with the company.
Ultimately, this programme is about building sustainable growth – both on a company and personal level. With another cohort of Coingamers due to present their projects later this year, we can count on a bright future for the company.