Career spotlight on Janice - celebrating our WOW
We caught up with Janice Duncan, a new member to the team, as Head of Business Planning for our Online division - here's her career story
What got you here?
My career started following completion of my degree at Glasgow University when I was lucky enough to secure a graduate position with National Australia Bank. The training program encouraged learning about the whole organisation so included working in a local branch dealing with customers as well as holding a number of different Group roles positions before I decided that Finance was the way forward for me.
After leaving NAB my journey to the on-line gaming industry came via a number of years with Royal Bank of Scotland and subsequently Direct Line Group with the latter in particular giving me experience of working in an on-line business where an understanding of the customer funnel from initial marketing through to site visit, registration and eventually becoming a customer was vital in understanding the business and driving performance.
A desire for a challenging new career as well as some fun in the sun saw me heading to Gibraltar 5 years ago to start with Gala Interactive as the Financial Planning & Analysis Manager covering GalaBingo.com and GalaCasino.com learning all about the intricacies of an on-line gaming company. My main responsibilities at this time involved working very closely with all areas of the businesses to not only understand and report on the financial and non-financial KPIs but to set challenging but realistic annual targets and quarterly reforecasts. Along with my team of 2 analysts we would often be asked to provide analysis and input into business case developments to support commercial decisions and strategic initiatives which was challenging to say the least but definitely rewarding in terms of development. During this time I was also lucky enough to be mentored by a fantastic woman who showcased the ability to be a successful working mum in what was a heavily male dominated Executive environment within the industry.
Fast forward a couple of years and a decision was made to merge the two separate entities of Coral Interactive and Gala Interactive under the one management structure and from this I was promoted into the position of Head of FP&A for Gala Coral Interactive, increasing my team size from 2 to 8. Much of the focus as this time was on merging two strong teams with their own cultures and ways of working to drive operational efficiencies and learnings from bringing the two companies together. Moving into Coral also gave me my first exposure into the world of sports betting with all the associated highs and lows – weekends would never be the same for me again as now I look at the results on a Saturday and think about the impact on stakes and margin rather than the game itself!
Within 18 months of the Gala and Coral merger a new challenge came full steam ahead at us with the merger between Ladbrokes and GalaCoral. The success of the merger was very much down to the strength of the leadership within both businesses as well as the grit and determination to succeed of all my colleagues and I’m very proud to have been part of such a great team. Working within the enlarged organisation also gave me a real insight into how another big operator worked and how one game can mean drastically different results for two companies.
The 5 years that I spent with Gala through to Ladbrokes Coral was certainly hard work but definitely rewarding from a development perspective and I’ll always be grateful to the CFO who gave me opportunities to progress and grow within my roles.
An opportunity to move to WHO as Head of Business Planning came to light towards the end of 2017 and I jumped at the chance to join an organisation with such a strong Brand presence and who had shown the strength of character to turn performance around following a difficult year in 2016. And so began my adventure in January 2018. Two months in and the enthusiasm and commitment of the people who work with William Hill has really impressed me. People do truly live the values every day and I look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of William Hill
Biggest career challenge so far?
Following two periods of maternity leave I saw people who had started their careers at the same time as me suddenly leap-frogging me for promotions during the time I was off therefore one of my big challenges was coming back into the workplace and getting the promotions that I deserved while still finding the right balance between work life and home life
Best piece of career advice?
Don’t be afraid to question something even if you think it’s obvious. It’s not only the best way to learn but it’s often what seems like the simplest solutions that make the biggest impact