Build it. Own it. Ship it. You don’t need to ask for permission here. If you’ve got an idea then just go for it. This is what any good engineering culture is built on.
You can tell that Travis Sutherland just gets it. He joins as our new EVP for Technology and wants to build the best team in the world. How’s that for limitless ambition?
I caught up with Travis to learn about his career to date and his vision for development at DAZN.
What has been your career story up until now?
I've been in and around video-on-demand since it started. I actually started out as a tape operator in a broadcast room in Melbourne. I then became a DVD author which eventually evolved into a Blu-Ray author which is where I picked up Java. I then did one of the worlds first ‘online DVDs’ for a band in Australia – basically all their music videos in one place.
I stepped out of that and went into consulting – this is where I picked up my agile background. I started doing a bit of coaching and then moved to the UK in 2013. I worked for NBC Universal and then Channel Five where I created their on-demand app My5.
I had a brief stint at Sky and then went back to NBC Universal before joining Discovery, looking after product and technology for all markets outside of the States. I was a part of an awesome a product called Dplay which actually grew into the Discovery+ EMEA app. We built it up to something crazy like 12 million users over the course of three and a half years. This was a modular, scalable and very internationalised platform which we used as the backbone for the Eurosport player also.
I had just finished the Olympics and then I joined DAZN and that’s basically it!
Why did you leave all that and join DAZN?
The commitment to that real developer culture here is something I really admire and wanted to be a part of. The whole ‘test and learn’ approach is something that I really value.
I'm also a massive sports fan and I have played rugby for 30 years straight. That aside, the key thing for me was the commitment to that awesome developer culture of owning it and shipping it. Not many companies have got that right.
What makes DAZN great from a developer’s perspective?
That ‘build it, own it, ship it’ mentality – that’s rare. That's all the hallmarks of a digital unicorn. You won’t find that at any other digital-first sports broadcaster, anywhere in the world.
One of my commitments is that I'm looking to build one the best teams in the world here. This is the equivalent of getting in on the ground level with Google or Facebook. In ten years time you’ll be reading people’s first-hand accounts of what it was like in the early days at DAZN.
Our competition is changing from a small operators to places like Amazon and Netflix. That’s the company we keep and we’re doing that without losing our soul. We’re not an enterprise-level machine. We’re keeping true to those agile development roots.
What are your first impressions of the developer culture here?
We need people who want to take a bit of ownership because that way they really buy into the company. They buy into the solution and its tangibly obvious that they they're a part of that contribution rather than someone who's just being told what to do. That can transcend all types of development methodology. Having that ownership and being able to stand up and point at your work – that's the key to keeping a healthy development culture.
I want to build a community – a group of collaborators who bring the creativity. Don't ask for permission. I'm never going to give you that explicit direction. Just go for it. You need to have that bravery. I love it when people have the ambition to just try new stuff.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in engineering?
You'll never be the finished article so constantly look to upskill. If you're interested in it, you'll find a way. You don’t need a degree to go far in this trade. The opportunity will come if you've got the interest.
Get on the keyboard. There are so many free resources out there. YouTube for example is brimming with tutorials. If you're interested and you put a bit of effort into it then you can get to an industry level very quickly because the demand is there.