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Embracing Change and Driving Innovation at William Hill: Georgina Owens’ Leadership Journey

Thu 22 Feb 2024

Ahead of Cloud Expo Europe on 6-7 March at ExCeL London, we had the pleasure of speaking with Georgina Owens, Chief Technology Officer at William Hill.

Owens shared insights into her dynamic career in technology, highlighting key moments and philosophies that have shaped her approach to leadership and innovation.

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Embracing Change with Enthusiasm

Having joined William Hill just ten months ago, Georgina describes her tenure as an exhilarating journey marked by significant organisational changes, including the arrival of a new CEO.

“It has been absolute rollercoaster, which is exciting if you like change, which I do,” Owens remarked.

Her primary achievement has been assembling a strong team and fostering a culture that values alignment and collaboration, essential for navigating the fast-paced world of technology.

The Catalyst of Innovation

Georgina’s career has been driven by a constant desire to explore new frontiers and embrace technological advancements.

“Adapting to change is critical,” she stated, emphasising the importance of innovation and experimentation in achieving business success.

However, she also noted the dual nature of change. While it can be invigorating, it can also be unsettling if not managed within a clear framework.

Navigating Communication Challenges

A significant aspect of Owens’s leadership style is her focus on communication, a domain she acknowledged is fraught with challenges.

“You will never get it right,” she admitted, highlighting the delicate balance required in keeping the team informed without overwhelming them.

Transparency and openness, according to Owens, are crucial in managing the expectations surrounding technological shifts like AI and automation.

Managing Team Dynamics

Georgina placed a strong emphasis on understanding and accommodating the varied paces at which individuals adapt to change. She stressed the importance of moving forward together while respecting individual differences.

This approach ensures that the team remains cohesive and motivated, despite varying levels of enthusiasm for new initiatives.

Leadership Lessons from the Frontlines

Throughout her career, Georgina has encountered numerous leadership challenges, from dealing with organisational politics to addressing toxic behavior.

She is adamant about confronting negative behaviors immediately, ensuring a healthy work environment.

“Everybody in my team knows that if they see something that’s not right, it will be dealt with,” Owens stated, highlighting her commitment to maintaining a positive team culture.

The Power of a Supportive Network

Rather than having a single mentor, Owens has relied on a robust network of colleagues and peers who have provided support and guidance. This network has been instrumental in helping her navigate moments of doubt and challenge, offering different perspectives and solutions.

Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic period was a time of significant reflection for Owens, characterised by both personal losses and professional challenges. Despite the difficulties, she also observed positive developments, such as improved work-life balance and a more equitable distribution of childcare responsibilities among working parents.

Championing Diversity and Inclusion

Georgina is a passionate advocate for increasing diversity within the tech industry. She has observed a backlash against perceived positive discrimination and calls for more authentic efforts to support diverse talent throughout their careers.

“We need to call it out,” Owens stated, emphasising the need for genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Anticipating Cloud Expo Europe

As Owens prepares for her session at Cloud Expo Europe, she encouraged attendees to actively engage and embrace the opportunities presented by such events.

“It’ll be brilliant, it’ll be amazing,” she enthused, highlighting the value of networking, learning, and sharing experiences within the tech community.

Owens’s journey from an enthusiastic technologist to a strategic leader at William Hill showcases the importance of adaptability, effective communication, and a strong commitment to team culture in driving innovation.

Her insights offer valuable lessons for aspiring tech leaders and underscore the transformative power of leadership in shaping the future of technology.

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