07 Mar 2023
I am currently the Managing Director for UK digital at Entain, which is Ladbrokes, Coral, Foxy and Gala and I’ve been in the role for almost a year. I took a massive leap last year, leaving financial services where I spent 18 years to then go into sports, betting and gaming. It has been super exciting and incredibly challenging but has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, which is one of my criteria when it comes to my professional must-haves.
My previous roles have always been directly consumer-facing roles. I’m really passionate about having a direct impact on consumers. I am also a change leader, so I love coming into an environment where I have the ability to truly affect change and I am really committed to constantly learning and challenging myself and working for really great, passionate people who come to work every day to win.
My career has been a series of twists and turns, I don’t really believe in a career ladder. I think that anyone who tells you that you’re just going to go straight up a ladder is lying. I love the fact that my career has been one step forward, two steps sideways, one step back, three steps forward and so on.
Not to forget the fact that I’m a mom and I have two kids. One is 14 and he has recently also relocated to Gibraltar for my new job. I have an amazing husband who has not only been my biggest cheerleader and supporter throughout my career but he’s also been dragged around the world with me and I’ve got an 18-year-old daughter who is in her first year of University in Miami. We spent ten years in wonderful London and are now living in Gibraltar for my new role as MD for Entain.
I think I’m going to answer that slightly differently. I feel like I’ve been very fortunate in my career where I have never faced an incredible amount of discrimination. This may be inequity, but I feel like I didn’t really start hitting my stride in my career until I was my own advocate. Men were usually the ones who were being tapped for the promotion and who were a no-brainer to be put forward for the next role. I could never quite understand that, and I didn’t view it as a lack of equality, I viewed it as I haven’t put myself forward, and that’s probably the wrong way to look at it. And it’s the polar opposite of the way that I lead and the way that I drive equity within my own business and my own teams. But for me, it wasn’t until I put my hand up and said, wait, hang on, I can do this job better than anybody else. How come I’ve been passed up 10 times? I remember my boss at the time said, well, I didn’t know you wanted it. You’re totally right, here’s the role. It was a valuable lesson for me where I learnt I must vocalize what I want. I could say this was because I am a woman, or because they didn’t know how ambitious I was. I don’t know. But I had to take that upon myself to go no, I’m incredibly ambitious and this is what I want. Despite the doubts in my head, I still put myself forward. And I continue to do that over and over, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
I do remember sitting in front of my boss a few years ago and saying, I want your job, so what’s it going to take to get me there? He was unsure but he was also my advocate. However, there was already another guy in the same role as me who was the heir apparent, and maybe he was the heir apparent because he was better at the job. I don’t know, but that’s when I decided to go elsewhere. So, I guess the answer to the question is I’m not sure, but what I do know is that women in particular have to put ourselves forward, and we have to get uncomfortable. We must be willing to make sure that people are clear on what we want, even if we’re not super clear.
My professional criteria or my professional must-haves include working for a business that values diversity. For me, diversity is one thing, we could all talk about diversity until the cows come home, but the actual magic happens when it comes to inclusion. You can have a diverse environment, but if that environment doesn’t enable everyone to have a voice, then you’re failing, so for me, I’m incredibly passionate about the inclusion part.
I’m incredibly passionate about surrounding myself and making sure that my teams surround themselves with people who don’t think the way that they do. And to be fair, that’s hard work. It’s really easy to sit around with a bunch of people whom all believe the same thing you do and all feel the same way you do, but that is not how we’re going to get the best out of people or how we’re going to deliver for our customers. The reality is that our customers are an incredibly diverse group and if we’re not actually giving them a diverse voice around our table, then it’s just words on a slide.
I think the other thing that I’m passionate about is, we must actively sponsor, mentor, and empower women from the very beginning of their careers all the way through. We’re not going to see true equality until I’m dead and buried, so I’ve got to do everything that I can to progress this next generation of women because we’re still really far behind which is complete insanity considering we’re 51% of the population.
One of the things I’m most proud of personally is I really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and did things that really scared me in order to learn and grow. It’s easy to have big aspirations but also easy to make excuses on why you can’t or won’t achieve them. But in the pursuit of achieving my aspirations, I left a country, a job, my family, my support system, my network and gathered my children and my husband and moved across the world to try to gain as much experience as I could to achieve my ambitions.
It was much harder than I thought it would be, but then it became home. Now I’ve done that a second time where I was really good at my job, had lots of internal equity and I loved being in London. But I shook things up because I wanted to achieve my ambitions. But this time I was bringing teenagers along on the journey. I’m proud that I’ve done loads of things that scare me and I continue to do the stuff that scares me, and it’s worked out for me because I’ve really thrown my whole self into it. I’m also proud of the fact that I bring my whole self to work. That doesn’t mean I don’t have balance, but I’m just me and I’m proud of my authenticity. I’m not for everyone, but I’m willing to just be me.
Finally, I’m incredibly proud of the fact that together with my husband, we’re raising some incredible humans that view the world through a different lens and they believe that they can go and do anything in the world because they can.
I love that question. Firstly, I think there are a couple of different answers to this. One is anyone who is facing inequity, anyone who’s being excluded, I think you’ve got to phone a friend. Building up our network of people that are there to support, help and guide. Don’t sit alone in it, there are lots of people who will help guide, advise and support you through your journey. For me, I’m incredibly passionate about my network of brilliant human beings whom I will do anything for and that will do anything for me. Phoning a friend and picking up the phone and going, I just need to talk through this is really powerful and something that I encourage everyone to do.
I’ve touched upon it a few times in our chat around my personal and professional must-haves, I call them my criteria. They’re not nice-to-haves, they’re absolute must-haves. Being clear on what those must-haves are important and that’s how I sense check whether an opportunity is for me. If I’m sacrificing too many of my ‘must haves’ then I’m probably not in the right role or not doing the right thing for me at the time.
The last thing is being aspirational, setting out a very clear target around what you want to achieve in your career and creating a development plan to achieve that. We should all constantly push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and do things that scare us, it’s all about learning and growing and working to fill the gaps in our development to achieve what we want. I think that’s super important as we think about how we progress through our careers.
– Julie Doleman, Managing Director for Entain
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