Last week, BYP sat down with Shola Aminu, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DAZN and Monique Rocastle, Partner Marketing Operations at DAZN. We discussed life at DAZN as the company reflects on the progress it’s made towards striving for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce and why being part of their global workforce should be your next move!
How did a career at DAZN appear on your radar and what made you want to join?
SA: My move to DAZN in Oct 2015 was quite like playing the lottery and hoping for the best outcome. After graduating from Brunel University, I spent most of my professional career in finance roles for some notable U.K. retail brands – because I loved clothes (a lot!). Having worked for the likes of Jasper Conran and Jack Wills, I made the tough decision to try something that would challenge me a bit more, but still align with one of my passions outside of Fashion – which was Sports. My choice to join DAZN was driven by the opportunity to grow professionally, but also to be an active part of such an exciting organization that’s disrupting the sports streaming industry. In my earlier days at DAZN, I was based in our London office and worked within various roles in the Finance department. Six years later I am now based in New York, and the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for our global business.
MR: After graduating I was a bit unsure about what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to work within the sports industry. I started my career as a graduate at Arsenal Football Club which opened my eyes to the business world within sports and taught me a lot of skills (like talking and presenting to very senior stakeholders!). As part of the graduate scheme, we were tasked with presenting ideas and proposals on certain topics – one of the presentations mentioned DAZN which spiked my interest and following the presentation I did a bit of research of my own. I saw that DAZN was looking for a Partnerships Executive that would involve building important internal and external relationships which is probably my strongest skill – my research showed that this was definitely a company to be aware of and this was before the big global launch. Working at DAZN provided the perfect mixture of utilising my commercial awareness whilst being able to talk about sports all day! I took a risk and left my graduate scheme six months early to join and haven’t looked back since.
What does your role entail?
SA: As the global lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DAZN, my role is about driving the company-wide strategy and ensuring DEI practices are embedded across all our core functions. Within our HR function, for example, it is a priority to ensure that all our existing and prospective employees – regardless of their race, gender identity, sexualities, abilities and more – can be their authentic self at DAZN. We have in place a continuously evolving strategy around hiring and developing the best candidates, offering inclusive learning opportunities, and refining our career development journey which includes company-wide mentoring programs and long-term partnerships with organizations like BYP. Aside from the HR function, the role is much more varied and super exciting as there is an ability to speak with our audiences – for example through captivating content such as Be Like Ali and A Letter to My Younger Self.
MR: As of October 2020, I have been working in the Global Partner Marketing team ensuring we are aligned with our distribution partners on key content planning, activations, campaigns, asset creation and delivery and workflow processes with all partners to make sure they have everything they need to effectively market DAZN and our content. My role involves talking pretty much all day to different departments and different partners and building those relations to guarantee seamless campaigns and activations.
What has been your biggest accomplishment, within the realms of DAZN so far?
SA: I have two major milestone moments at DAZN, which have shaped my identity for a lifetime.
U.S. Relocation: The opportunity to relocate from our London office to New York to launch DAZN in the U.S. will always be a dream that came true. It was common practice in our business for colleagues to have an opportunity to move abroad with the business – due to our operations being global in nature – so I had seen colleagues move to Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Milan and more. It was always something I was working towards and is a testament that hard work pays off. At DAZN there are countless opportunities for career development at a local linear level, but also global ones for those who want to branch out and develop international experience too.
Head of DEI Appointment: To be selected as the first strategic leader for such an important area of the business will always be a proud moment for me. Watching the progress the business has made in the past year and the engagement and commitment of DAZN employees and senior leaders alike to fostering an inclusive workplace makes this role much more fulfilling.
MR: My biggest accomplishment at DAZN so far has been building out and delivering a new partner creative process with the Partner Marketing team, enabling us to continuously provide engaging marketing assets across all of our global distribution partners and making sure we were ready for our global launch in 200+ markets at the end of 2020. It was a big team effort and it’s exciting having DAZN available now in the UK and Jamaica specifically, so my family and friends finally understand what I do and where I work!
What is your favourite thing about working for DAZN – what does DAZN do well?
SA: Most definitely the people. Our people culture is so vibrant, progressive, and supportive. This is what has kept me loving every day over the last six years, and I have built genuine lifelong friends here. DAZN employees worldwide are also passionate about fostering an inclusive culture, which can be seen through the formation of numerous Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) across all our markets. Working in the world of sports is also a bonus. With a sporting event there are bursts of excitement, viral moments/highlights, and the fulfilment once you have won a game. You get those moments at your desk too!
MR: It’s a mixture of the constant air of excitement that comes with working in sports (eg. what rights will we acquire next) whilst being able to work with people all over the world. We have offices in Japan, Spain, Italy, North America, Germany etc so interacting with so many varied cultures and learning from different people are aspects I really enjoy. Hopefully once the world opens up again I’ll be able to meet a few of my international colleagues, but for the meantime TEAMS will have to do.
What does diversity in the workplace mean for you at DAZN?
SA: For me it’s important to not only have a diverse workplace, but one that fosters an inclusive culture. The benefits of a diverse organization are the varied perspectives you can gather, increased engagement and finally - better decisions being made faster and smarter. An inclusive culture is instrumental to DAZN’s success. We have prioritized these efforts and are ensuring all senior leaders understand the importance and value of the voices of their employees and that all employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work. The most common phrase you’ll likely hear from me when I facilitate company-wide discussions are:
“DAZNers, shake the table!” – with regards to being your authentic self at work.
“DAZN leader, is EVERYONE in the room when you’re making strategic decisions?” – with regards to inclusive leadership and inclusivity in meetings.
MR: For me it means having a diverse group of people in the room expressing differing opinions, viewpoints and challenging the norm. A lot of research has shown that diversity at companies increases business performance as well as having higher engagement at the workplace. I’ve always said the diversity off the pitch/field/court does not reflect the athletes that are playing these sports we love to watch. At DAZN I believe we have an obligation to represent both the athletes we are broadcasting every day and our subscribers who continue to return to the platform, so it is important we reflect this in our workforce (and we still have a long way to go).
You’ve recognised that there is still work that needs to be done, in light of this what does partnering with BYP Network mean to you?
SA: Representation matters, and this is the first step in ensuring that we’re connecting with the best Black talent in the industry. We’re a growing business, with our platform available in over 200+ markets and showcasing an impressive portfolio of sports for every fan – it’s important that our workplace reflects the rainbow of races and cultures too (including the additional diversity groups). At DAZN, we also have a great network of Black employees who have navigated their professional careers amongst various industries too. It’s a great opportunity for our internal folks and the BYP network to collaborate whether that is in the form of mentoring, attending virtual events, and other networking opportunities.
MR: It is a step forward in the right direction. The BYP values strongly resonate with me and I know they will to a lot of people at DAZN too. As a young, black female in the working place it can sometimes be difficult to navigate your career so platforms like BYP can really help guide prospective candidates when choosing which companies are making the correct steps to ensuring their working place is inviting and inclusive.
What advice would you give to Black professionals considering applying to DAZN UK?
SA: Join us! My experience at DAZN has been amazing so far and has gone beyond anything I could imagine from when I joined the business in Oct. 2015 for an entry level finance role. Once you’ve stepped into our organization, you’ll be welcome by like-minded colleagues, employee engagement groups that foster an inclusive culture, and progressive opportunities for career development. Along the way, always make sure to set medium-term career and development goals– it’s bound to pay off!
MR: Make sure you do your research and understand the company and the role to ensure it is right for you. Ask questions and feel free to get in touch with current employees to seek their advice. There is never a dull day at DAZN and there are so many opportunities available to get involved in different projects, learn new skills and meet new people.
To know more about DAZN or to join their innovative team please visit their jobs page here.