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Meet Samm

My life and love for tech

My brother and I were born and raised in London by our mum and dad. I’ve always been close to my parents. I’d say I’m a good mixture of both of them. They have always had a big influence on my career – not so much on what career to take, but how to get where I want to be. They have always been the one’s to pick me back up after setbacks and give me advice when I need it.  Without my mum and dad, I think I may have turned down a lot of opportunities I have been offered over the last few years.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a blog from Samm Betts – a junior platform engineer here at DAZN. It struck a chord with me. This whole thing about parents and the impact they can have on your career. Both subtle and huge at the same time. Reading the blog, it was clear that her dad has always been a big role model in her life and has influenced her in many ways. I wanted to find out more, this is her story…

Take us back, what was life like for you growing up?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been very outspoken and extroverted. I had a great childhood. I was really into music and tech as a child, and still am. That’s all thanks to my dad! I have always been really close to my dad. We did a lot together and we had a lot of shared interests.

From a very young age, I grew up with a transgender dad. To me, she has always been a woman. My parents were very open and honest with me and my sister. It didn’t change the dynamics of our family at all – that was our ‘normal’.

My dad lived as a man for thirty years. Her true identity was hidden. I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been for my dad growing up. She lived as a man, married as a man and had children as a man. I’ve never had to hide any part of me. It’s totally taken for granted that I can say what I want, wear what I want, go to what I want and be who I want to be and never think about being threatened for it! All of these things, my dad had to consider.

I was very fortunate that I didn’t experience any bullying in school. I remember the first time someone said a comment to me about my dad, I said ‘yeah, so what?’. They quickly realised it wasn’t a weakness, so I was never picked on for it.

I wrote an article about this last year and posted it on the DAZN Engineering site. I was overwhelmed with the response that I received. It started conversations – some people wanted to know more, and a few employees confided in me about their own sexuality who weren’t out. It had the desired effect I wanted it to have – people felt comfortable to talk to me about things that they could have been bottling up for a long time!

You mentioned your dad gave you your love for tech – how did that happen?

My dad has always been my role model. Most of the things I love and am passionate about, I learned from my dad. I remember when my dad bought us our first computer. It was in the dining room, but I was on it so much that she ended up putting it in my bedroom. My dad had a love for tech, and she passed that onto me. I taught myself to code when I was really young - about twelve or thirteen. I went on to study IT at college and university and my dad was my cheerleader the whole way. I often wonder that if my dad didn’t have such a strong interest in tech, I may have not discovered my love for it, or at least not at such a young age.

What is role at DAZN?

I’m a Platform Engineer working in DX. We work on internal tools and functions that are going on behind the scenes. We build all the internal things, for example, the authenticator when you sign into your GitHub, we put that there. I love it. For me, it’s the most interesting part of the business and I love when it crosses over with other departments too!

The tech world is an interesting place to be. We do so many exciting things. Things that people probably aren’t even aware of! I would urge people to join demos – whether you’re a tech person or not! It’s so interesting to see what’s going on in our world. In the past, we’ve held events for non-tech people who have an idea. We paired them up with tech people and they got to watch their idea being built. It was amazing. We are hoping to do another one soon.

As DAZN employees, how can we be more mindful of others?

Really small things can make a massive difference. Displaying your pronouns on your email is a big thing. A straight person may think ‘it’s obvious, why do I need to put that there?’. It’s not for you, it makes other people feel more comfortable. It makes people who identify differently, but feel nervous to say it, feel more comfortable to display theirs.

Also, education is so important. People tend to bully or dislike someone or something because they don’t understand it. LGBTQ+ topics are now being taught in schools. Everyone knows about it now and people understand it more.

When I published my blog, so many people reached out to me that were holding things in for a while. They had something they wanted to talk about. You can be that change, if you’re the first person to say or do something, you don’t know how many people are going to follow you.

DAZN do a lot around this, but on a personal level, the small things make a massive difference. Be an advocate. Make others around you feel comfortable.