“The way I see it, leadership is best achieved through caring, challenging, and collaborating,” says Marcus Smedman, Kindred’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Marcus is heading our global Tech function with 700 people worldwide. In this second interview, we hear more about Marcus’ team, his management style and Kindred’s growth plans.
What is your leadership style and how do you manage your team?
You need to care about the result, the code, the customer, the colleagues, the quality, and the lot. You need to first challenge yourself, then others. If you ask yourself what you can do to contribute, you will come to a point where you feel a need to challenge yourself. Challenges are fun and make you grow! Collaboration is key, and at Kindred, you have an extensive list of key ingredients needed: communication, inclusion, trust, common goals, respect and having fun are only a few.
What are the key focus points in your role as CTO at Kindred?
As Chief Technology Officer I am accountable for the Tech strategy, as well as its execution across the Group. Of course, I am not alone and with a dedicated team, good governance and a structure based on strategic direction for the Kindred Group, we make it happen.
You could see it as being a member of two teams: one team is the Executive team, and the other is the Tech Management team (me and my direct reports). As a member of the Executive team, I contribute to defining the long-term Kindred strategy and as a member of the Tech Management team, I contribute to delivering on it, together with my tech colleagues.
How is your team structured?
Tech Management Team consists of myself and my eight direct reports:
- Director of Engineering
- Director of Architecture
- Director of Application Management and Operations (AMO)
- Director of Security
- Director of Analytics
- Director of Data
- Director of UX
- Director of Tech Business Delivery & Governance Risk and Compliance (TBD & GRC)
In total, we are around 700 people across 10 separate locations in Australia, Europe, India, and the USA.
All managers have continuous alignment with their staff with monthly one-to-ones and weekly team meetings. With such distributed workforce, across many geographies and time zones, we realised many years ago that we must have a very flexible working environment and equip everyone with the tools required to work from anywhere in an efficient and secure way.
This means that everyone has been working from laptops and other mobile devices, in a hybrid way, long before Covid-19 and the global pandemic. This made the negative impact on efficiency and collaboration smaller than it could have been. Still, we see a strong need for formal alignment sessions to ensure everyone gets an opportunity to express their needs and views continuously.
In your opinion, what differentiates Kindred Tech from other Tech employers?
To be honest, it is a bit difficult to say as I have been here for so long and might be too biased to have an objective opinion. I heard from an employee who joined recently, that he went home after his first day with a smile on his face; he felt welcome and said that the Company has the ‘Kindred feeling’. It is great to hear these types of comments as we are immensely proud of our culture and values, - the Kindred Spirit. Even though we work hard in an extremely challenging industry, we have always maintained a friendly working environment. The Kindred values also revolve a lot around Individuals United, meaning that you can be your true self and feel welcome and part of the team. That was something I felt from day one.
Anything exciting in store for Kindred Tech in the near future?
Launching the Kindred platform in the US later this year is a major milestone. With a global CI/CD pipeline, the Kindred (private) cloud set up in the states, our proprietary Kindred network expanding to North America, and setting up the first tech office over there it is huge for us.
We are also continuing our journey to evolve the Kindred Racing Platform into a fully-fledged sports betting platform. The collaboration between the teams in Australia and Europe is amazing to see, and the progress is great even if there is a long way to go.
We work hard to attract the right talent to these areas across all our existing, as well as new locations, even as a fully remote setup. We realise that it means a lot to our staff to be able to have a choice from where they work, and we have a very flexible policy regarding this, so it is a win-win!
What would you like to say to a candidate who is currently considering a tech role at Kindred?
Do not hesitate to form your own opinion! Come by and meet us, and I am sure you will like what you see! In addition to our continuous technical challenges, we have great career progression and personal development opportunities. The fact that we work with a clear purpose and strategy makes it possible to get a good understanding of what we focus on and why, at any specific point in time. We offer a great work-life balance with a large amount of flexibility and if you would join us, you will be part of a fast-growing and exciting company!