When it comes to the recruitment of tech talent, one of the most forward thinking operators in the UK online gambling space is Sky Betting & Gaming. Based in Leeds, the company has placed huge emphasis in recent years on the efforts it makes to attract the right people with the right skills. Here as part of GamCrowd Tech Talent Month, Zoe Hebblethwaite, the head of communications at the firm, explains what it has been doing to give itself the best chance the recruit the very best people to help push its immensely tech-enabled offering to new heights.
GamCrowd: What challenges do you think the gambling industry faces when it comes to attracting tech talent to its businesses?
Zoe Hebblethwaite: The main challenge is around improving understanding of the breadth of opportunity with us and the high quality of career on offer. Sky Betting & Gaming is a tech-driven, mobile-first business that has never seen a betting slip or the inside of a bookmakers. We’re forward-thinking, social, content rich, we work with top sporting and celebrity talent, have all the benefits of being associated with the global Sky entertainment brand and have a genuine commitment to equality and diversity as well as giving back. We’re delivering ongoing jobs growth too making us instrumental in the success of the economic clusters in which we operate which builds reputation.
GamCrowd: Which are the areas that you struggle with in terms of tech and attracting the right people?
Zoe Hebblethwaite: There are not enough skilled candidates in the market in general, which is a nation-wide issue as the digital sector is creating jobs twice as fast as the non-digital sector according to the Tech Nation 2017 report. Engineering talent can be hard to find and not skilled enough to cope with high pressure, high availability platforms, particularly in the early careers areas such as graduates.
GamCrowd: What do are the misperceptions that potential candidates have about the gambling industry?
Zoe Hebblethwaite: That we’re old school tech and purely sports-driven. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The tech that powers our bet platform to handle 200-plus bets per second is as powerful and as advanced as the low latent fintech platforms used by investment banks on the stock market, maybe even more powerful. Also, the sporting calendar does prescribe the timing of our events, but not the markets or product features we offer. This is powered by our tech teams developing features the customers want and we know this because we ask them over and over again until we get the product spot on.
GamCrowd: What has Sky Betting & Gaming found to be the most effective route to enlightening people about the nature of the industry?
Zoe Hebblethwaite: Tech Talks are by far and away the most engaging of our attraction channels. We try and host one per month and invite delegates from other industries and even competitors. We’ve hosted on subjects such as scaling agile, dev-ops, delivery engineering, trading and CRM and we also work hard on our external messaging to ensure we are inclusive and demonstrate all the great things on offer here. We also work hard on our internal culture and rely on our people who are proud to work here to generate word of mouth endorsement.
GamCrowd: What kind of outreach has Sky Betting & Gaming done to the tech talent in Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region?
Zoe Hebblethwaite: Tech talks and sponsorship of digital festivals and job fairs. We have done our own but also teamed up with the likes of Tech industry pioneers such as ThoughtWorks and Infinity Works Consulting to deliver talks and events based on an area of difficulty or simply an interesting topic such as the latest tech etc. Secondly, we launched an employer brand for the first time back in mid 2016. This was our first company identity away from the main consumer brands and we positioned it specifically at technology candidates, trying to ensure they understood the scale of our challenge and size and complexity of our technology, but also in the fact that they would work with some amazing colleagues in a truly collaborative way.