Fruition Consulting’s team of associates have an unprecedented level of expertise and knowhow – from a broad range of backgrounds and experience. Here, in our ‘meet the associate’ series, we delve into their careers, interests and skill sets as well as sharing best practice for likeminded technology professionals.
Meet Paul Durkan…
Whilst in the current climate overseas travel from the UK and the rest of the world might be limited and subject to quarantine, the same cannot be said for CIO Paul Durkan’s career…
Spanning more than two decades his fascinating career has taken him from Manchester to Leeds via London, Sweden, Gibraltar, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, Philippines, Australia, Poland, US and now back to Leeds! – all in the quest to realise strategic, operational and digital transformation goals for a multi-million pound global organisation.
Having worked at William Hill from 2001-2019, what were the significant milestones for you and critical periods for the firm?
The international expansion of William Hill was a pivotal moment for the company. From 2010-2019 we developed an online presence in regulated markets through .com Spanish and Italian businesses and, following a number of strategic acquisitions in 2012 integrated the William Hill brand across Australia and the US state of Nevada. Taking in different cultures and expanding the business worldwide was a really exciting yet critical period for both me and the organisation.
Another point in time was the period between 2016 and 2018 when the retail business reached a major milestone in business and digital transformation, which saw the rollout of Wi-Fi in all 2,400 outlets in the UK and, the introduction of over 2,000 bespoke self-service betting terminals (SSBTs).
More recently the business expanded its footprint and technology capabilities within the UK and Krakow – following a major acquisition of Grand Parade in 2017 – where the talent pool grew from 140 to more than 300.
Last but certainly not least, in 2018 William Hill established a new technology hub in New Jersey and in August 2019 launched a standalone platform for the US, in advance of the 2019 NFL season starting in September.
Describe some of the challenges you faced whilst working for the organisation?
Each role had its own challenges from technology transformation, cost-reductions and international growth to name a few, however in 2016 as CIO for the Retail, Trading and Retained Development Division, the UK betting and gaming industry was becoming increasingly regulated meaning that we had to look at diversifying our domestic and international businesses in order to mitigate the impact of the significant revenue headwinds.
As part of our digital and business transformation programme we removed the dependency on a legacy EPOS solution through the launch of SSBTs (mentioned previously), as well as scaling our global trading platform which extended to handle B2B integrations in preparation for strategic US market growth – a very challenging but progressive move for the business.
What was your experience of the US like?
Expanding the business to the US market was a huge step-change and milestone for William Hill. The bespoke, standalone platform (launched in August 2019) was built in line with a group wide AWS cloud migration programme which meant that the solution could be built-out in newly regulated states in a matter of weeks, rather than months.
Adopting a forward-thinking approach allowed our industry-leading technology to seamlessly transfer from state to state within the US and culminated in significant partnerships with TV network CBS, followed by world-renowned sports cable channel ESPN.
Subsequently, the significance of these deals opened up opportunities with Eldorado Resorts who earlier this year purchased Caesars Entertainment for a little over 17bn!
These international opportunities and technological achievements did not come without their challenges yet provided the businesses with a robust digital and technology backbone from which the group can continue to prosper.
What advice would you give to a CIO in 2020?
It’s never been more important to ensure that your team and technology has the agility and flexibility required to scale and meet economic and business demands. An optimum blend of both permanent and contract staff gives you flexibility but also minimises risk for your organisation.
It might sound obvious but when looking to expand overseas, factor in cultural and situational differences, not just for your customers’ needs and wants but for your team’s individual capabilities, working patterns and skill sets.
Finally, be prepared to change. It might be cliché but technology is always changing and if you can be first to market and take advantage of emerging technologies, that will give you a first mover, not follower footprint in the marketplace and a good base for continued growth.
To find out more about how our industry-leading associates can add value to your business, contact one of our team today on email@example.com or 0113 323 9900