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Functional Workplaces: Derivco

Josh Kaplan 5 August, 2019 (4 min read)

Even if you haven’t heard of Derivco before, there’s a strong chance you’ve probably seen or used software they’ve built. As one of the world's leading online gaming and betting software houses, they've worked with some huge players in the betting world.

Founded in South Africa in 1996, they now have a global network of offices from Australia to Costa Rica and everywhere in-between.

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Their European operation focuses largely on the Sportsbook industry and is split between Ipswich, London, Barcelona and Stockholm. Barcelona is their fastest growing team and as you can imagine, is a pretty popular place to work!

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Derivco also like to invest in the communities they're based in, selecting a charity each 6 months to fundraise for. This year, they've donated over £3000 to a local animal charity in Suffolk as well as running a pop-up and donating supplies.

As part of our FunctionalWorkplace series, we're talking to some of the great businesses we work with to find out what makes their culture and team so special.

We sat down with Lydia Smith, from the HR team at Derivco HQ in Ipswich to find out what working for them is really like.

How would you describe the culture at Derivco?

We have a really open culture that values people who take the initiative. Our offices have a really good mixture of people from all sorts of different backgrounds and experiences and we’re definitely trying to promote that when we hire.

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We also have regular events and parties as well as group trips, our team in Stockholm is currently preparing to climb the highest mountain in Sweden! This Spring, the team trained a few times at Humlegården, a beautiful park in the middle of central Stockholm, where they did some cardio and strength training to better their physiques for the September climb. These training sessions have also been a way for them to become closer and stronger as a team.

With the nature of our sportsbook business, there are some days that can be really busy. For example our team in Ipswich worked the Saturday of the Grand National to ensure rapid response, and bug fixes,. We tried to make it feel a bit fun, everyone got a day back in holiday, free food and party to celebrate. Luckily there were no major bugs or hot fixes, and it was great for the dev team to see users placing bets live and to see the product working live and under pressure very smoothly.

We also really like to support parents and try to make it as easy as possible to work flexibly so they can have a healthy work/life balance.

In regards to the wider company culture, with tech being what it is - a predominantly male industry, it’s why we’re actively trying to hire more women and people from a wide range of backgrounds.

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What's the interview process like at Derivco?

We try and make the candidates feel as relaxed as possible so they can be themselves and we get a real understanding of who they are as a person. We don't really do formal dress-codes, we interview dressed as if it was a normal day, and we try and ease people into it with personal questions before we hit them with the harder tech stuff.

What are the skills or traits you look for when hiring?

For us, it’s less about the technical skills. We appreciate that not everyone is going to be a perfect match for our stack, so we like to look beyond the skills on paper. It’s all about attitude. If we get the sense they want to learn and want to improve their skills.

We like investing in people and their progress and every developer gets regular meetings with their managers to discuss their career trajectory and how we can help them achieve their goals.

We also provide a generous personal development allowance that developers can use to go on courses or go to conferences to brush up or learn something new.

Do you think the developers value this?

Absolutely, there’s a pretty wide range of what people choose to do with the money. A lot of our UK developers attend conferences in London. Another popular choice is NorDevCon closer to our office in Ipswich.

One thing we notice is that through networking, a lot of our developers come back from conferences with more confidence. Speaking to others about what you’re doing can reinforce what you do on a day to day basis. It’s invaluable for job satisfaction.

Is this allowance the only benefit you offer?

Absolutely not, the benefits differ from office to office but in our Barcelona office for example we give everyone a lunch allowance, private healthcare including physiotherapy as well as budgets for monthly celebrations. We try to offer a wide variety of benefits and we’re working on making more flexible working part of what we offer. We’re also happy for people to transfer around our offices - Barcelona has proved popular!

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Currently in tech there’s a lot more jobs than there are good developers, so we work hard to find and retain the best talent and then invest in them when they’re on the team.

So what makes a developer successful at Derivco?

We’re seeing a lot of junior developers move up the ranks pretty quickly, we like promoting internally because we know they understand the culture and the way the team works. Overall, we value people that work hard and are constantly thinking about what they can learn and how they can improve. A self-starting attitude and enthusiasm go very far and we like to promote the right people quickly.

What languages does your team in Barcelona use?

We have a couple of different teams in Barcelona using a mixture Elixir, Erlang and Ruby.

What’s the biggest challenge for your tech team at the moment?

So one thing we’re trying really hard to do is get as many teams as possible up to full capacity. It allows us to really dedicate ourselves to the projects and clients we have. We're also managing a move to the Azure Cloud which is obviously a pretty big undertaking.

Thanks for chatting with us Lydia and all the best with your hiring!

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