When it comes to her career, Tonia Symington believes it was human resources that chose her, not the other way around.
“I always wanted to be an entertainment director on a cruise ship – that would have been quite a different career path!” But although the seafaring life was not to be, Mrs Symington has had a long and varied career in HR spanning over 30 years and many different industries, including education, manufacturing, private banking and online gaming. She even ran her own consultancy for several years.
“I came to Blexr in July 2018 after being approached by a head hunter. I liked what I heard from both the Chief Operating Officer and the co-Founders regarding their vision, culture and growth plans for Blexr,” Mrs Symington says. “These included an expansion into another country, which from an HR perspective brings lots of challenges and excitement.”
Mrs Symington says things have changed dramatically since she started in HR, and most of this is down to technology. “The internet was not a big thing when I started and social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, did not exist. Even applying for jobs was usually done by completing an application form, using a pen and your own handwriting, and the job would be advertised in the local newspapers or magazines. It was a print world then, not digital. This makes me sound so old, but it’s really a reflection of the rapid rate of change in the world, driven by technology, and HR has been carried along by that wave.”
In her view, this development has also changed how candidates approach interviews – or at least, how they should be preparing. “There’s no excuse to not know something about the company you’re applying to, as there’s usually plenty of information on the Internet,” she says.
On the other hand, from the employer’s perspective, you can access a person’s profile on LinkedIn and a Google search will tell you more about them – “perhaps they’ve got an interesting hobby or run their own blog.” And of course, when it comes to the interview process, video technology makes people easily accessible, instead of having to fly them over for an interview. “This is a good way in which technology saves time and money.”
As Chief People Officer, Mrs Symington believes good employees are essential to the success of any business. “Having employees understand Blexr’s vision and believe in what they are doing is vital to our growth and continued success,” she says.
“Employee empowerment allows the business to benefit from its talented workforce, and they in turn get to grow in confidence as they succeed in their roles. Blexr has an awesome group of talented and hard-working people, and it’s a pleasure to work with them. We have a clear vision and identity, combined with honest leadership and a culture of collaboration, with as little politics as possible.”
Nowadays, when hiring new employees, Mrs Symington observes that there is a much greater focus on cultural fit. “We seek to recruit people who reflect the values held by the senior management team. We look for people who are passionate about what they do, confident in their abilities, reliable and positive. We don’t mind if someone makes an error, so long as they learn from the experience and fix it.”
“It’s important to take ownership when things don’t work out and take steps to correct it. We also like those who have good team spirit and are proactive. You need to work hard at Blexr, but we make sure you get rewarded for putting the effort in.”
And what do those rewards consist of? “Work-life balance is important to us and we demonstrate that to all our staff. We offer flexible working, and our exceptional benefits package puts us ahead of the game,” Mrs Symington explains.
“We make our working environment fun and exciting, so our staff feel good about coming to work each day rather than feeling that they’re going down a coal mine. It is a fun environment, with a family-orientated feeling that is lacking in some of the big corporates. We believe that when staff are having fun, they work together better and produce better work.”
“We’re all specialised in our own areas and allow our employees to craft their own tactics and follow them through. We team up with people at the top of their game, who know there is more for them to give and achieve. We support growth and promotion from within and succession planning is key for us, as our team continues to expand.”
Mrs Symington elaborates by saying Blexr is still growing rapidly in Malta, with plans to double the workforce by the end of 2019.
“We are also now spreading our wings a little further by opening an office in Barcelona early next year. This means a lot of recruitment, as we need talented people to join our expanding team. It also gives our staff in Malta the chance to move to Barcelona and experience working in a different country.
“We always need high-quality, passionate and fun people to join us. My job is to bring them in and then make sure they grow and are happy while they’re part of the Blexr family.”
This article originally appeared in iGaming Capital