NRG interview with Tombola COO James Beard

tombola’s Chief Operating Officer, James Beard, talks openly about his journey with one of the region’s leading technology companies

NRG, the leading North East headquartered recruitment company, was appointed by tombola, to find their new Chief Operating Officer, a unique and exciting opportunity to join a digital technology business operating at the cutting edge of the global online gaming and entertainment market.

tombola is a privately owned, market leading, international technology company which develops high quality online entertainment, focused around affordable bingo and their own versions of casino games. The company is rapidly expanding, currently employs more than 450 people and has a growing community of players in 4 countries. The company is committed to investing in the region and the construction of a new flagship head office campus building in Sunderland, making tombola a destination employer in the vibrant North East Digital Sector.

We met up with James Beard to discover what has been happening since his appointment at tombola in August 2017.


What attracted you to Tombola?
I wanted to stay in the North East region but wanted a role that had huge potential in a fast growing business, building on my experience within the tech sector. Since I arrived at tombola the challenges and culture have been fantastic and exceeded my expectations.

My typical day
There are no typical days at tombola. My role as Chief Operating Officer is to support the team in delivering our strategy and as such I spend a lot of time talking to people about our key priorities and which activities we need to be focusing on. The business is growing quickly and that always brings capacity challenges, so part of my job is to predict when teams will hit capacity before it happens and help manage that. So it ranges from strategy implementation to managing specific daily challenges.

What was your experience as candidate through NRG?

The communication throughout the process was really good. Jim Allcroft, Associate Director at NRG, kept me up to date with the progress and overall was a positive experience with a good outcome.

What is your greatest achievement so far at tombola?

The team and the business have achieved a lot in the last year, but I’m not sure it was down to me. I think our greatest collective achievement has been to maintain our fast growth at the same time as doing it the right way and taking a responsible approach. This means putting our players first, making sure they are in control, receive great value for money whilst having a great experience. And that is down to our whole team, whether it is the developers creating our unique content or our chat moderators making sure that our players can play and chat in a friendly, sociable community.

What has been your biggest challenge at tombola?

The gaming industry was an entirely new industry for me, I knew next to nothing about it when I started and it has been a steep learning curve getting up to speed with the jargon, market and operating model. Personally, I also have to restrain myself from trying to do too much too quickly!

What did you want to be growing up?

I had a good role model; my dad had always been a businessman and Managing Director. My aspiration was always to work in a successful commercial operation. Now, I also want to create opportunities for economic growth in the region and help to develop other people to ensure economic prosperity locally.

Where do you see tombola in the next 2 years?

I want it to be exactly the same in terms of culture, ethos and principles but I want to see us bigger, better, more successful and an even greater place to work, maintaining a legacy of prosperity for Sunderland and the North East. I also want to see tombola recognised as a leading technology company, not just in the region but nationally. We are investing millions in the new headquarters in Sunderland and in 2 years I want to see it full of fantastic tech talent.

Do you have any advice to candidates applying to Tombola?

The biggest piece of advice I can give to people applying to work with us is – “Make sure you know what we do”. Invest £10 and sign up, play the games and take part in our chat room community; really understand what we are about. Our careers page has plenty of information about us but please put some time in and research and experience us before we meet.

What is the best thing about working and living in the North East?

The North East region is an amazing part of the country and I don’t think it gets the PR and press it really deserves. The people are fantastic and there are great career opportunities here with a wide range of businesses. It’s got a pretty low cost of living, great cities, easy access to the coast and countryside – and the commute is a fraction of that in other major cities!

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