Longstanding colleagues at the Gambling Commission
Posted 7 December 2021 by people services
We asked some of our longstanding colleagues what has made them stay at the Commission and the types of roles that they have worked on during their time here. Today we hear from Richard Hollis, Nick Hawkings and Pradeep Rajania.
What is your current role at the Commission and how long have you worked at the Commission?
Richard: I’m currently a Strategy and Engagement Manager with the Commission, this is my third role in the time I’ve been here which is just under eight years. Literally double the longest I’ve ever stayed anywhere else.
Nick: I am a senior solicitor in the Commission’s legal team, and I have worked for the Commission for nine and a half years
Pradeep: I am a Senior Manager in the Policy Development team. I have been working at the Commission for over 14 years.
During you time here have you worked in a variety of roles or departments or worked on any defined projects that have taken you away from your substantive role?
Richard: I’ve worked across various areas of the Commission in varied roles and on varied projects. I started off in Compliance and was there for just over five years as a Compliance Manager, the variety in that role was vast and I can genuinely say there was not a boring day. It sounds a cliché but it’s true. The role took me to places and situations that my time at other regulators would never have taken me, I was fully supported by both colleagues and the Commission at every step of the way.
During that role I was involved in a number of projects around raising industry standards and assisting colleagues in external organisations to help us deliver on the 3 licensing objectives. I was also fully supported, right up to CEO level, to develop a project which I had started. As a Compliance Manager I identified a way to reduce issues around staff safety and crime around gambling premises. Never before had I been given the support and backing to run with an idea in the way that I was in the Commission, I’m happy to be able to say that the project, Betwatch, showed tangible benefits all round. That the Senior Leadership Team were able to see the value in allowing me time to develop the idea stays with me now as a major positive about the Commission’s culture and inclusive way of conducting business.
In line with that I am currently attached to a project which I had been heavily involved with during a previous role with another Team. I’m now a part of Strategy but have been given support and encouragement to continue with what will be a major step forward in protecting customers from harm in the online gambling space. The Commission sees the value in keeping the right people on the right projects which means it gets great results but also delivers on role satisfaction for colleagues
Nick: When I started at the Commission I was a newly qualified solicitor, and joined as a junior member of the team. Since then I have gained significant experience, and so was promoted to senior solicitor, where I now manage a team of 3 other lawyers. Whilst I have not worked directly in other departments, as a support function I have worked closely with almost all departments across the Commission at once time or another on a wide range of legal matters and case work.
Pradeep: When I first joined the Commission, I was only meant to be working for a few months, whilst I figured out my career path in a new city. I joined the Policy Admin team, which provided an insight into the world of policy development. I loved everything about it and found the career I was looking for. I worked my way up from an Administrator to Senior Manager in policy development, building my expertise in regulation on varied subjects such as lotteries, online gambling, consumer protection, and now a specialist in gambling advertising. As part of my role, I have worked with a wide range of organisations, from trade associations, regulators, to consumer groups. The most challenging and rewarding project that I undertook led to major changes and improved standards in the way the gambling industry treated its customers, particularly in relation to promotional offers.
What keeps you at the Commission?
Richard: A number of factors keep me here, and they are all equally important. One of the first things people will mention about the Commission is the people and for good reason. Dedication, professionalism, flexibility, resilience, positivity, expertise and many more great adjectives are all words which get thrown around a lot when describing colleagues here, rightly so, but they only tell a part of the picture of why they are all so great to work with. Colleagues here take a genuine interest in helping each other and that spills over from the professional to the personal. It’s hard to quantify but there I know that if I am encountering difficulties people here will help. During a difficult spell in my personal life the support I received from colleagues at all levels was fantastic, it really helped me through that period. Linked to that is the fact that colleagues here genuinely share a sense of purpose. We are all here to do the very best that we can in delivering on the Commission’s objectives, we understand that our roles are important not just to the success of the organisation but ultimately to society as a whole. What we do here has the potential for significant positive impact and we get to see how our contributions to the wider piece feed into that. The feeling that our work has real value and that what I do as part of that is appreciated is something that I find to be unique to the Commission.
The Commission offers great learning opportunities. On joining I knew very little about the industry we regulate but I was given a great induction and the time to learn enough to become functional, that learning has still not stopped. The industry we regulate is big on innovation, broad in scope and even broader in how it delivers. There is constantly something new to learn and to engage with from a regulatory perspective which keeps me keen and interested. I’m also constantly learning about how other regulators work as the Commission has great links with other regulators and various other bodies. During my time here I have worked alongside and learnt from the Information Commissioners Office, Financial Conduct Authority, Police forces, Local Authorities, trade associations, addiction treatment providers, academics, overseas regulators (hello Bermuda!), government departments, HMRC, the Home Office and others. No other organisation I have worked for has been able to come close in terms of external links and networks, the Commission understands that to succeed it must collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders and that is why these are in place.
Did I mention the people yet? Well, yes but I must do again as apart from the factors above I’ve made friends here. Genuine friendships which will last long after people have moved on professionally, not that people move on that often, and which are with people who I may not have had the chance to meet if it weren’t for working here. It’s a rare workplace where that can happen and so often does for all of us.
Nick: The Commission’s work has real impact, which makes the job I do very satisfying, and the work itself is interesting and varied, with no two days for me being the same. As a generalist, my role is to provide the Commission with any legal support it needs, and so I have had the opportunity to upskill myself across a wide range of areas, both legal and managerial. Outside of the work itself, the Commission places great importance on the individual - it values new and different perspectives, ideas and approaches; it places importance on supporting individuals in their own needs and circumstances; and it values a good work-life balance. It might sound a bit cliched but the people at the Commission really do make it a fantastic place to work. Everyone is respected and valued, and people really go out of their way to help their colleagues.
Pradeep: The people! I have worked with some amazing and talented people, many of whom have mentored me to help build my confidence and experience in the role. I have a very supportive manager and team, who are fun to work with. I also love the work, it’s varied, interesting and I have autonomy to make decisions on how to deliver a project
Is flexible working important to you?
Richard: Absolutely. As a Compliance Manager regulating a 24/7 industry flexibility was built into that role and that was important to me, to get the best results I had to be flexible in how I worked and the Commission backed that fully. It allowed me to see businesses operating at the right times and also to speak to people at the right times but it also gave me a degree of freedom in my life which was tremendously appealing. I’m really pleased to see that attitude extended across the rest of the organisation and continuing to do so as we move through the time of Covid. It’s a reflection of the value which the Commission places on it’s people that the organisation understands the importance workplace flexibility plays in people’s lives.
Nick: Flexible working is very important to me due both to my personal circumstances and the nature of the work I do. The Commission de-emphasises ‘face time’, and instead values the quality of the work that is done. Allowing me to work flexibly, primarily from home, gives me an exceptional quality of life, which in turn increases morale and encourages me to work to the best of my ability. The Commission has built an excellent infrastructure to help ensure smooth flexible working across the whole organisation, and this commitment has helped colleagues feel that their own circumstances are understood, and this in turn has increased productivity.
Pradeep: Yes – it’s so important for my wellbeing and to have a good work/life balance. As a mother of two, I can fit my work around the school run and take time out for important school events. We have great facilities to be able to have meetings with colleagues from home and in the office, so I never feel that I am out of the loop.
Are the Commissions benefits important to you?
Richard: They are, a well used Cycle2Work scheme which transformed my commute is testament to that, but slightly less so than the other factors mentioned here. Dedicated people, a clear purpose, varied tasks, meaningful objectives, supportive structures, learning opportunities and a sense of working with friends are more important to me than a benefits package no matter how good it is.
Nick: I don’t personally utilise a great amount of the benefits the Commission offers, but there are a wide variety of good benefits that would suit a great many people, and I think it is important the Commission offers such benefits so that employees can use them as and when they need to. There are a range of tangible benefits, such as discounts at a wide variety of shops and services, but for me more important are the non-tangible benefits; the Commission provides access to support tools and systems for colleagues, such as counselling and financial wellbeing, as well as supplemental benefits, such as the ability to purchase more annual leave. There is likely to be something for everyone in the range of benefits it offers, with new benefits being added often, and this again helps me and my colleagues feel valued and appreciated in our work.
Pradeep: Yes. The generous annual leave and pension are great. The access to free mental health support through the Employee Assistance Programme is a fantastic way to show how much our mental health and wellbeing is valued here.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Gambling Commission and the work we do around safer gambling please have a look at our careers page (opens in a new tab).