Paula Tibre: ‘Build your career based on the three D approach: Dare, Dream, Drive’
Talking to Paula Tibre for this interview was a bliss – a professional whose strategic approach to building a career is as relevant as ever for anyone operating in an ever changing business environment. Here’s what Paula shared with us:
Q: Who is Paula in a nutshell and what are the 3 most important stops in your career so far?
PT: Paula is a passionate professional guided by the principle that each of us is here to make the biggest positive impact we can on the world we live in. Therefore, my constant focus has been on becoming a better person and professional by expanding my areas of expertise and driving the initiatives that resonated with my values. I am also a lifelong learner and I’ve learned that it’s essential to let yourself guided by the same principles and desires in life and in your career, so one of my definitions of success is staying true to myself.
In practice, I have chosen, always, the most challenging roles and opportunities which I knew for sure would add significance to my life, to others around me and to the company.
The first important milestone in my career was not a position or a role, but the moment in time when I realised that regardless of our education or expertise, our beliefs and passions can give us an infinite strength to achieve our dreams. Education and expertise are obviously important but can be built at any age and in any industry.
Another important moment in my career was leading, from a delivery perspective, a transformational program of creating a single customer and technology platform between Paddypower and Betfair brands following their merger in 2016. The initiative had a mile-wide complexity and scale higher than any other program done before in the business and even in the industry. It involved significant change across all product lines by consolidating the platforms and processes across the two brands. To achieve this, over 60 Scrum teams spread across 5 locations and cultures worked together against a very ambitious timeline.
What marks another key moment in my career was the opportunity to invest and believe in people able to enable results that seemed very ambitious. This is the leadership team of Betfair Romania Development, the PaddyPower Betfair location in Cluj and the largest development center in the group. We are the Center of Excellence for Gaming, Data, Marketing and Customer Management Technology, the place where over 600 employees work and most importantly, contribute to the group’s success by delivering strategic initiatives.
We are recognised for the culture defined by excellence, consistency, transparency, ownership and work ethic, but foremost, for readiness to embrace any challenges. We have the most engaged employees across all locations and people who can make a difference.
All the above – the results, the journey, the choice for a certain way of working – mirror my personal beliefs and principles, which I am extremely proud to have developed and shaped in my career, teams and company.
Q: You’ve build a solid and coherent career and you’ve stayed within the same industry for more than 10 years now. What kept you going for so long, mostly in a world of constant change like ours?
PT: When I joined Betfair Romania Development in 2007 I did not picture I would be here almost 11 years later. I found a global company and an organisational culture that allowed me to develop my skills and my career, amazing people and mentors that I learn from every day and, most importantly, a place where my opinions matter and I have the autonomy to put them in practice.
While subject matter expertise in a specific role is important, it is equally important to understand and have experience in multiple parts of the business. This allows a better understanding of the strategy, the engine of the business growth. From a personal perspective, it reveals where the biggest opportunities are through insights gained hands on. On that note, although being here for a long time, the word that defines my career is constant change and learning in a multidisciplinary way.
I started my career journey as a software developer. Next, in a dynamic of role changes every 1-2 years, I took on several roles in different departments and functions like Project and Programme Management, Product Management, Business Operations and, most recently, Delivery Assurance and Technology Integration between the PaddyPower and Betfair brands, following the merger.
Through our lives and careers, we always find what we are looking for. What kept me going was the opportunities for personal growth and business progress which I was lucky enough to find here.
Q: What do you like the most about working in the gaming industry?
PT:The industry is very dynamic and fast paced and in this specific environment technology and delivery make the most significant difference. We are putting customers at the heart of everything we do by delivering the best products at pace in a predictable manner, as well as a scalable, highly-available, secure customer technology. In such a fast paced world, with multiple brands, geographies and regulations, achieving that goal requires a balance of strategic thinking while delivering the best results on a short to medium term.
At the same time, it’s an entertainment industry which adds fun and excitement for our customers if done well. It is also a highly-regulated industry and we as a company take pride in what we do in the Responsible Gambling area, training staff and informing customers about the tools we have to manage the gambling habits.
Q: How has the business environment in Cluj Napoca changed in the recent years, from your point of view?
PT: The business environment in Cluj has seen a substantial growth across a wide range of industries and domains, putting Cluj in a top position in terms of investment options. We now have more and more strong brands and companies operating at high standards locally and globally.
Due to this growth, the competition on the market for top talent has increased and this competition can bring great outcomes for the employees in terms of opportunities and reward. It also stretches companies to do their best for retaining staff and always evolving their operating models and ways of working.
The experience and skillset of the labour force has also increased considerably in comparison to a few years ago. Due to this expertise, companies can now adopt a strategy based on value add on top of the one more focused on execution or production. Similarly, there is a greater representation of entrepreneurs and freelancers involved in world-wide projects and, to support their needs, a wider and better offering for co-working spaces.
Another positive trend is the investment in the community which is reflected more and more in the projects that companies consider, some of which involve support from their staff. Main areas of focus are education and learning, culture, social, environment, health and wellbeing.
Q: What do you think are the top reasons for an international company to expand its business in Cluj?
PT: Talent is the main reason many organisations have decided to invest in Cluj. Starting from the talent pool, wide skillsets, experience, drive and determination all constitute a solid foundation for an investment here.
We found here great professionals with high work ethic and a relentless will to win. This relentless will to win comes from our historical background of wanting to prove ourselves and it triggers a degree of appreciation for what employers do for supporting their staff in their development, career and autonomy.
The other main reason for investment is value adding: we now have a greater experience in their technical domain as well as working in multiple companies and therefore different perspectives of doing things. This gives investors confidence that not only the delivery will take place but there will be an end to end contribution and ownership towards business goals and outcomes from the teams.
Cost effectiveness has been a primary reason in the past and while it still is an advantage, it is no longer the main differentiator.
Combining talent with shaped professionalism, ability to scale up and value adding mindset is key to establish a footprint in Cluj-Napoca.
Q: From a workforce perspective, do you think there’s anything missing from the market in Cluj at the moment?
PT: Our biggest opportunities can become our biggest threats, so we need to be mindful to put effort in maintaining the differentiators we started with a while back like talent, cost effectiveness and attitude towards work.
At the same time, expectations from investors have also changed and now it’s almost the rule that we need to operate and align to global standards. Therefore, a high degree of maturity and commitment from leaders and professionals is essential to meet these expectations because the success measures have evolved. We all have the responsibility to create new opportunities by stepping up and respond to the new challenges, which will allow everyone to succeed and have benefits, starting with each one of us to the employers.
Recent years growth of the market has multiple benefits but there are multiple factors which need to be maintained or developed to maintain this growth, otherwise in time we will end up with an unbalanced ecosystem. These factors include infrastructure, services, transportation, digitalisation, healthcare, education and many others.
Q: Finally, is career something that happens or something that one builds?
PT: It’s a bit of both but to make it more accurate I would say ‘If someone sets an intention and takes steps to build a career, not only they will succeed but unexpected opportunities will happen as well’.
We are all the outcome of our choices and actions powered by our big dreams. So, start taking action today. Dare, Dream, Drive are action verbs to consider in each of our careers. Get inspiration from your heart and enjoy every step of the way.
photo credit: Paul Sandor