CXO blog series: My career in technology - Shane Kelly, Test Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming


Working in technology during the dot-com boom in 2003, I saw the shift towards the automation and digitalisation of business happen right in front of me


Shane Kelly is a Test Manager at Sky Betting and Gaming. Having worked with Sparta Global to provide high quality test consultants for a number of years, Shane has introduced Spartans to testing teams at EasyJet and William Hill. With a technology career spanning more than two decades, we sat down with Shane to discuss his incredible career and the changing role of technology in business…

Have you always had a keen interest in technology?

I started getting into computers when they first came out. The ZX spectrum 48kb was the very first computer I coded on – way back in the eighties!

From coding on computers I went into music sound engineering. First I worked for a studio and then for live bands, doing the sound rigs. In 1998 I had the opportunity to work at Apple - getting in the door to test the Mac OS via music editing software. Apple was looking for testers to join them in Cork in Ireland and I have been working in testing ever since.

When I joined Apple it was still very much based around desktops – it was not the giant that it is today. It was an experienced team to learn from all the same. Everyone knew their fields inside out, whether desktop publishing, sound engineering and knowledge of all the different types of hardware and software that could be plugged into a Mac.

Was your time at Apple a career highlight?

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to work in technology in a number of different industries and different testing scenarios. From testing Operating Systems to testing applications that required installation straight from disks, to working with SkyBet systems and large web applications with huge tiers of technology.

Working in technology during the dot-com boom in 2003, I saw the shift towards the automation and digitalisation of business happen right in front of me. Companies started moving towards web-based applications rather than installing systems locally. This was a big change and it was a really exciting time to be working in tech. I joined William Hill in 2010 and even at that stage they were making a big push to move from retail into online betting Online applications which will always be a game changer for businesses.

Why do you think it is important for companies to continue investing in technology?

From an automation perspective, if companies do not invest in testing professionals then they are leaving themselves at a huge disadvantage. If you build software or computers, you need to be able to efficiently and repetitively test them and automate continuous change. If developer teams are going to be in a position to release new software continuously, there is no time for big regression packs and logging weeks of regression testing – all of this needs to be done in minutes. At Sky Bet some of our squads will release code two or three times a day - if not more - so that automated regression pack has to run continuously.

This is why automation is key and it has become a crucial part of testing, rather than an afterthought. Failing to work with proper testing procedures means missing out on speed to market. Companies cannot expect improvements in their build pipeline and to be able to give autonomy to developer teams to release whatever they want without having robust, easy to use automation. 

Are these skills and new technology talent hard to find?

The best tech talent is definitely hard to find – particularly good automation engineers and people that are actual coders. When the first automation tools were coming out you didn’t have to be able to code. Nowadays with the way the open source library is being used, you have got to be a coder.  You are working with code day in day out, building quite clever things – but it’s not easy.

It is so important to invest in digital talent. What Sparta Global is so good at is getting people with a passion for technology and transforming their skillset into something more practical. I do not even need to vet people from Sparta Global. I know the team there are enthusiastic, hard working people that are willing to learn, change and adapt.

When working with Spartans at EasyJet, from day one they were already doing practical, real tangible things so they were able to start testing very quickly and be able to add value really quickly. This is not something you can rely on when you are training somebody straight from university.

Looking back on your career to date, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would like to have learned more, picked up more computer languages and made an additional effort to keep my finger on the pulse in technology. Quite often managers slip out of it and can lose track of industry trends or brand new tech. It is beneficial for everybody if we understand what is happening in the industry, sit with our teams and understand the challenges they face on a daily basis.  This attitude will help us to nurture and support the new talent coming through.