From banking to tech, and from scale ups to esports, York Scheunemann, the new Chief Operations Officer at Bayes Esports, has already gained some invaluable experience from a number of different areas – all of which, he told SBC, have shaped his strategy as a leader.
So whilst some might say that esports is very different from working at Google, Scheunemann explained that he is looking forward to the innovation within the sector in years to come.
SBC: Congratulations on your new role! Can you begin by telling us a bit about your background?
YS: Of course, with pleasure.
I have been working in the digital business for more than 20 years and have worked with colleagues and partners from across different industries and markets. Being part of different organisations – from agencies, a traditional bank, a tech giant, to a scale up – over the last years has taught me a lot, and I had chosen this journey on purpose.
I can actively bring value from my previous experiences to the next. As part of a team, and also as a leader and manager, I always find pleasure in communication, cooperation and co-creation with others.
Besides that, I am a father of four children who loves spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy music from old school hip hop to vocal house and get my personal energy boosts from sports and nature, ie. kitesurfing and sailing.
SBC: What was it about Bayes Esports, and the esports sector in general, that attracted you to the company?
YS: There are mainly two aspects I’d like to point out here. On one hand it’s a very dynamic industry, of course. It is loaded with the passion of players, teams and fans coming together as a global community, but it is also executed with high professionalism.
Esports brings people together and overcomes language barriers, believes, or any other differences. In that sense it is similar to music or art. But the business side of Esports is also fascinating. We see impressive growth numbers and new investors entering the industry.
One interesting question I see for the future of the industry is to what extent we will see proper innovations on one hand, and even more acceptance as a sport on the other. And that’s where Bayes can actively drive the development of the industry with its high standard real-time data delivery, insights, and analyses.
There are several components that attracted me personally to Bayes as a company.
- The commitment. Being fully committed to the mission of being the driving force in the Esports industry in everything we do, is a bold and ambitious one. Nothing less than leading the way globally in providing official Esports live data with our partnerships is our own claim. As I love ambitions, I recognised a pull effect on me.
- The ecosystem of customers and partners. Bayes is part of a big orchestra consisting of right holders, tournament organisers, betting organisation and others. At the same time, it is the orchestra’s conductor of the real time data symphony where multiple connections come together using Bayes’ platforms.
- The growth potential. With its technology and the strong, valuable, and professional collaborations with their partners, Bayes comprises steep business growth in the next few years. Everyone in the company is conscious about the leading role they are having in their field. For the management, though, this is not taken for granted. On the contrary it is the driving factor to become even better in all areas – from customer centricity to products. That’s what you can see and feel when you are part of the team.
- And of course the people. The set of very diverse, smart, and engaged people make the difference and with that Bayes a great company to work at. The combination of talents in all teams and on all levels with the aligned values and attitudes was and of course still is a factor of attraction to me.
SBC: How will your experience at Google, as well as the scale-up Appinio, help give you an alternative perspective on the esports industry that others may not necessarily have? And how will this shape your strategy as COO?
YS: In general it is always a precious opportunity when a new colleague is joining a company or team. The fresh perspective and the discovery mode of a newbie entails the chance to question everything like namings, processes, and communication aspects. That, of course, requires the allowance to do so and also the willingness to hear the discovered items.
That’s what I am currently doing in my ramp up phase while listening to my colleagues and digging deeper into existing materials.
Other than that, as I have been part of a big tech corporation, but also part of a scale up, I am bringing the best of both worlds together which is a combination of innovation driven global business, structured processes, and efficient allocation of resources, as well as effective cross-team and cross-market cooperation, and ambitious and fun-loaded collaboration.
SBC: If you had to set out some key aims for your new position, what do you hope to achieve at the company?
YS: In general, key goals are essential for everyone in a company. You need to plan or you will fail. That’s relevant for each employee and their personal growth, but also on company level it is critical to have a profound and ambitious strategy and a professional execution.
While taking the first steps of my ramping up phase, I started recognising the potential rooms for improvement – which are always existing by the way. In every organisation there should be things to be improved upon, as well as the willingness to do so.
In collaboration with my colleagues, I’d like to increase the bilateral synergy between teams like Marketing and Sales. As the spearhead in the field, Sales has its fingers on the pulse and receives the needs and feedback to our services which then need to be carried into our organisation. The other way round they are in need of crisp and clear communication material. That’s just one example.
Also I’d like to increase our own efficiencies by optimising processes and initiating some automation so that we can focus even more on our customers and on the acceleration of our business. In times of our own growth this is much needed as we have the ambition to keep our high level standards in everything we do.
SBC: Something you highlighted in the announcement of your appointment was that you often take a “mindful” approach to leadership and aim to foster a “human-first focus” in your work. How will you do this in your role at Bayes? And why is such an approach so important when it comes to overseeing a team of employees?
YS: Everything we do and we are aiming for starts with our own talents. You can have brilliant strategies and define ambitious goals. But as long as you don’t have your people with you, there is no chance to run a successful business. We work together as humans, so let’s act, communicate, and interact this way in a professional context.
It is my understanding of leadership responsibilities to create an environment and culture of belonging and psychological safety. Only then people are happy and willing to fully unfold their potential, bring in their ideas, and give honest feedback. That entails numerous benefits for the organisation like higher innovation rate, healthy staff, and increased loyalty, just to name a few.
I personally will try to lead by example in my daily work, ie. be less reactive and more responsive, focus on the present, consider different viewpoints, empathise with others, and adapt to circumstances or transitions. This has a spill-over effect on team members.
This human-focused approach will also be implemented in a structured way, ie. defining our own internal communication values and our understanding of leadership, including self-leadership.