Data Leadership At Sportsbet:

It's More Than Just The Managers 

In a world that often values “managers” more than “leaders”, Sportsbet is fostering teams where every member gets the chance to work with great leaders and be a great leader themselves, no matter their role. At Sportsbet, we aim to ensure that even junior employees always have input, and even senior employees always have something new to learn. The result is dynamic teams that always have something new to bring to the table -- which goes a long way in fostering our key value of innovation! 

We sat down with some members of our data science team to talk about leaders who’ve inspired them, and to learn the difference they’re making as Sportsbet leaders. 

Q: Tell us about a leader at Sportsbet who’s inspired you. 

Kaushik Lakshman, Head of Data Science 

I’ve only been at Sportsbet for a few months, but I’ve already met some incredible people.. Picking one is hard! I'd choose Doug Brown, who was very kind in welcoming me when I first started. He is a great storyteller and has the wonderful ability to motivate people with those stories. He is also incredibly sharp, asks insightful questions, provides meaningful feedback and has the inspiring ability to tie everything back together to commercial goals and outcomes. I look forward to learning more from his leadership, and also from everyone else in the business. 

John Hannebery, Data Scientist 

I’m lucky to be surrounded by many inspiring leaders who are also experts in their respective fields. One of my mentors right now is Qiong, a Senior Data Scientist with world-class technical knowledge especially in the area of recommendations. I’ve been inspired by her skill in knowing how best to apply this in a business context to drive positive outcomes for customers and the business. 

Mia O'Dell, GM Data Science 

I won't name names, but there are a lot of leaders here that inspire me and in a number of different ways. Not just in senior leadership roles, but across the whole business at many levels. One thing that's really inspired me about how our leaders lead at Sportsbet is just how well we look after our people. How much care and effort we put into making sure that everyone in our teams is not just OK, but doing well. And even though there’s always room for improvement, from my experience, Sportsbet leaders do this better than anywhere else I've ever seen. 

Andre Easom, Head of Data Science 

Going right back to the start - right from when John Maguire interviewed me, I knew that this was someone I wanted to work for. He had a vision, and the courage to try new things. I think it is essential to be able to work somewhere where you feel like your work is actively doing something. 

Q: How has Sportsbet given you the chance to develop your leadership skills? 

Kaushik Lakshman, Head of Data Science 

Another of Sportsbet's core values is License to Drive. Everyone lives and breathes this value, and you are encouraged to ideate and take initiative. There is an excellent initiative called Data Academy which was put together by a passionate group of data professionals with the intention of getting everyone on board the data journey. This has been a great forum for data scientists to share their knowledge and build their communication skills. 

Additionally, within a month of starting at Sportsbet, I had the opportunity to speak at a company-wide Town Hall about one of the projects my team had done. This led to a lot of people reaching out with feedback and ideas, which have gone into the product roadmap, leading to a lot of collaboration. This is genuinely the way everything seems to work at Sportsbet, and it's a phenomenal environment to develop leadership skills. 

John Hannebery, Data Scientist 

I am very lucky to be empowered every day to take real initiative with projects and data science/ML research to keep abreast in the ever-expanding field. As Data Scientists, we are empowered to own projects from end-to-end, from conception (working with stakeholders to discover the problem we can solve using our data science toolbelt) through to full model productionisation, monitoring and serving to ensure our predictions generate as much value as possible. 

I regularly present to stakeholders and I love the challenge of explaining data science concepts to a variety of audiences. At face value, these concepts can be quite tricky to understand, but when explained correctly can make perfect sense and really empower people across the business. This is key to instilling a data-driven culture, which Sportsbet truly has.

Paul Foerste, Head of Data Science 

Throughout my time at Sportsbet I've been given numerous opportunities to present project work and other areas of interest at various meetings and forums, whether that is within our own Quants team, Data Science, the wider department, or in global forums with the other Quants teams.  

All our projects see numerous examples of collaborating, not just within our own team but the wider company, be that with traders, developers and marketing to name a few. 

I've also been able to draw on my experience in the industry to take a lead in various projects and propose solutions based on previous project work 

Andre Easom, Head of Data Science 

I have had the opportunity to develop my leadership skills in a variety of settings - one that stands out was being part of the leadership team for the global risk and trading technology transformation project. The amount of moving parts that fed into each decision, in terms of the number of teams, stakeholders, different geographies, different technologies, different customer experiences etc that we could choose to prioritise, gave me a great opportunity to think strategically - and to learn from the thought processes of other leaders in the space.