Trying yourself in banking, construction and eventually bumping into the ceiling and burnout – this was the way of the operational director of the SoftSwiss company Andrey Starovoitov. It was possible to get out of the vicious circle only in IT. How to cultivate a leader and learn to open new horizons?
– I never dreamed of IT and never really strived for this area. After BSEU, he started his career in the call center of the bank. He quickly rose to the head of the sector for work with arrears and for the first time faced elements of the IT sphere: he introduced CRM and was engaged in process automation. We created a product for the management of bank arrears, which ensured the movement and processing of more than 50 thousand credit files. First thoughts: “Shouldn’t I try myself in IT ?!” appeared just then.
If you think about a client at night, it means that work drives
At first I did not understand what to do in IT. I auditioned for several companies, including SoftSwiss. Applied for the position of Head of customers support. The interview was conducted by Ivan Montik, CEO of the company. But the preference was given to another candidate – the first attempt was unsuccessful.
I was very impressed with Ivan’s charisma and views and kept in touch with him. Six months later, he invited me to lead a new branch of the business – an aggregator of game content. The division was just being formed, there were only two people in the team, and I gladly agreed.
I was free from online gambling prejudices. This is exactly the same area as the banking sector, construction, logistics or retail.Moreover, I have seen career benefits in this area. My burnout in previous positions was due to the fact that I quickly reached the ceiling and lost motivation. There are changes in gambling every year; in a couple of years, positions in the tops of game manufacturers can completely change. All this forces us to constantly update our knowledge. There is no limit to immersion – you can look into different areas: analytics, tests, development processes, and so on. It was a revelation for me.
All my strengths were developed here: understanding of the business, strategic vision and a constant desire for change. This is my internal itch – I will always look for points of improvement. This makes you generate ideas even in a dream. If you start waking up at night and thinking about the client, it means that what you are doing drives you.
I curate two of the company’s most successful products
I have been with the company for 4 years. Constantly looking for new ideas, implementing them so that tomorrow’s business is stronger than today was my hobby, now it is my direct responsibility. Since last year, I have been the COO and lead two flagship areas – a gaming aggregator and an online casino management platform. These are the two most successful products of our company.
There are four teams in my management (many of them have already grown to the level of the department):
- Game Aggregator. This is a separate line of business of the company, supported by a team of 30 people. A gaming aggregator is, in its essence, a technically sophisticated application that allows an online casino operator to integrate more than 100 game producers one-time, including top gaming providers Netent, Evolution, Microgaming, Pragmatic, Amatic, EGT and, of course, the games of BGaming’s own studio.
The three teams below work with SoftSwiss, the first and foremost product, the online casino management platform that started the company.
- Business Account managers… This is a team of 14 account managers who work directly with our clients, online casino operators, accompany them, and help their business develop depending on the certifications. Our business experts study statistics, view analytics and based on this data provide advice and share market insights.
- Technical Account managers. 15 technicians who keep the project running.
- Setup command. Launches projects and brands at the request of clients. They conclude a contract with us, and we open online casinos for them from scratch. We lead the project from the moment of sale until the client goes live: a full cycle of website development, connecting games, payment and marketing tools for working with players. 6 people are working on this task. Each project has its own unique design, drawing of figures, layout – for this we connect additional resources.
I constantly study the market in order to understand where to make money tomorrow
I enjoy looking at teams from a business perspective: building strategies, monitoring results, researching the market.
In the morning I study financial statistics, make plans in advance. We have very well developed analytics. Then I check important letters in the mail, work with teams: we discuss current affairs, clarify some questions, look at strategic projects. I often communicate with large clients to solve stuck problems. Reviewing service processes is also a big chunk of time. All our work is automated, every month more than 10 thousand “tickets” pass through the teams, we need to track how it works so that there are no force majeure events.
It often takes time to just surf, watch the latest market news, this is also very important, to be in trend, to understand what processes are taking place there. I am interested, I read, I dive, because the markets periodically close, and you need to understand where you will make money tomorrow.
Frames – 99.99% success
We are doing a lot of work to find new personnel. I constantly attend interviews to assess the people who come to us. Online gambling is a rather narrow sphere. There are very few specialists, and the market is growing. The processes are becoming more complex, they are not the same as they were three years ago. If earlier one person could do everything in a row, now we are trying to split into separate processes so that each part of the service works as professionally as possible. The high level of service is our strategic advantage. We take guys with no experience in our industry, show the company from the inside and grow within each team.
At the interview, we immediately look at education and understanding of the business, experience in large companies so that people can navigate processes, statistics, analytics, and so on. Somehow it happened historically that the guys from the economics faculty of BSU and BSEU come out with a suitable level of knowledge. They have an understanding of what economics and business are, they can speak the same language with a client.
We evaluate the potential of an employee not by his resume, but during a conversation. When there is not even enough knowledge, we will take it if there is interest in the topic of business. This is important because we do not just serve the client, but delve into metrics, data, markets, find growth points within the client, give him recommendations and build development prospects.
I have a fairly simple recipe for how to check whether a person is right for us or not: just ask what he did at his old place of work.
There were many interviews when the guys showed a good impression on their resume, but in the course of the conversation we realized that they were falling short. A common story when not all candidates understand their strengths and weaknesses well. They see themselves in one position, for example, a forced business analyst, although in fact they can be an excellent account manager, and in general they have all the data in the future in order to open their own business.
Just recently, they hired a girl for the vacancy Head of B2B support – customer support in a game aggregator. And she planned to be a project manager. We looked at her experience as a Yandex Taxi support manager, and realized that this is exactly what we need – managing high-load support. And her knowledge will help automate our processes. They offered to try herself in another position, and she showed herself very cool from the first month. We learn to see “ours” from afar so that all investments of time and knowledge in a new employee are not wasted.
My approach is to recruit people of approximately the same status, age, and values.
When all of these criteria are met, for the team, work becomes little more than just work. This is already a social circle. The connections that are formed within the team are denser, work becomes the main interest. And there should always be a personal example – to show that the values that you carry are really important.
There are leaders within the team – more experienced guys who will know everyone well, understand the direction of thought, where we should go, what we should do. The rest will absorb it along with the atmosphere. One of these values is the ability to work with a heavy load. The market is very dynamic, you need to be prepared for the fact that at some point large volumes will fall and you will have to plow very hard. If one of the guys with such a load stays overtime, not because someone asks him, but because the client’s profit increases from the result of his work, others will see such rules of the game and connect themselves. For this, the financial side of motivation must be clearly built. So that a person understands that his income depends on the success of the company as a whole.
I no longer ask myself the question “Where next?”
Each manager should be a kind of mini-businessman so that the owner can entrust the development of his business to the person. I come to the conclusion that all of these things are culturally rooted in the family. For example, my father was a businessman, I saw his personal example and learned a lot from childhood. A good decision rarely comes during business hours; it can happen in the morning at breakfast, on a walk – anywhere, anytime. The manager always works.
How do I see my future? I will say this – I no longer ask myself the question “Where next?” Usually I reached the ceiling in 3-4 years, but I don’t see the final point in SoftSwiss. You can grow not only vertically, but also horizontally – in related areas, working directly with players, marketing and much more.
Project partner – SoftSwiss. It is an IT product brand, a leading developer of software for iGaming, the first in the world to create a solution for working with cryptocurrencies in the field of online entertainment.
The SoftSwiss brand was founded in 2009 in Minsk. Today SoftSwiss is an international team of more than 600 employees and is officially represented in several countries, including its own offices in Malta and Poland.