Sergey Portnov, Chairman of the Board in Parimatch, describes in detail the way the company’s Tech Academy develops the potential of future team members qualified to handle the gaming industry in the long run.
Sergey Portnov, Chairman of the Board, told EGR Technology after the presentation of his latest social and educational project, Tech Academy, that the involvement of students from Eastern European universities is crucial for the sustainable development of the gaming industry.
As part of the program, students complete a six-month internship where they learn about the inner workings of a gambling operator, carrying out real Parimatch projects, bringing the company notable results.
Portnov shares how the idea for the project came about, the increasing interest in it among students from all over Ukraine, and the related expectations for the Academy’s future development.
EGR Technology: At what point did you have the decision to establish the Tech Academy?
Sergey Portnov (SP): This is a project that combines business needs and the Parimatch’s social mission.
To achieve business benefits, we train a team of competent staff who know how to write code, as well as participate in the life of the company, share our values and are already familiar with the internal processes of the company. A graduate who receives a job offer wastes no time – he or she is already ready to tackle business challenges.
The Academy’s main social mission is to nurture qualified specialists for the country’s growing IT market. The Academy helps gifted young people to acquire work experience in a large company and reduces the distance between experienced colleagues and juniors. At the same time, even those graduates who didn’t get an employment offer at Parimatch can be hired by another company pretty quickly. And we do all of this free of charge.
EGR Technology: How much attention has the program attracted since it was launched?
(SP): Every year in Ukraine the number of IT-specialists and those wishing to get an IT-education is increasing. The number of applicants wishing to enter IT specialties at Ukrainian universities only in 2020 amounted to a whopping 138,000 applicants, this is 20% greater than in 2018. At the same time there is a shortage of qualified juniors on the job market, so we decided to address this issue.
Against this background, the Academy received a great response: a week and a half after the start of open enrollment we received 2,150 applications and several hundred additional applications that missed the deadline of submission.
We are still receiving applications and inquiries about when the next enrollment will begin, even though enrollment is still closed.
EGR Technology: Does the Tech Academy plans to develop the courses other than coding and programming?
(SP): We continue to gather data and think about how else we can help prospective applicants. We already have preliminary drafts of courses for non-technical majors, but these are just plans for now.
The number of enrolled students depends on the capacities of educators who work and teach at the same time, as well as the job opportunities that are currently open in our fields.
EGR Technology: Could you more fully explain the way Israeli teaching methods are used in the Tech Academy?
(SP): The program is based on an Israeli approach called “Telem,” which is being applied universally at MAMRAM, the central computing unit of the Israel Defense Forces. In doing so, the chosen method was customized by Parimatch Tech methodology partner DAN.IT Education, and addresses real-life case assignments and mentoring.
The student dives into the subject on the basis of a correlation of 70% practical assignments to 30% theory and is not focused on broad theoretical knowledge, but rather on particular business tasks. Under the guidance of a mentor, the student examines the task at a technical and business solution level.
We combine all the material you have learned into a homework assignment, which, eventually, is assembled into a single project. These final course projects represent cases of actual problems faced by the company’s specialists.
Development of corrective and supportive feedback is a characteristic feature of our mentoring approach. A supportive feedback provides positive appraisal for the student’s successful work; while corrective feedback provides prompt corrections and refinements to errors, thereby fostering motivation for future independent professional advancement.
EGR Technology: Why is it important to involve Parimatch leaders like Alexander Feshchenko in direct interaction with students?
(SP): This is also a legacy of the Israeli approach. Involving senior staff members keeps employees motivated by the individual examples of senior executives and inspires trust. In particular, students enjoy honing their soft skills with the help of our CCO Daria Isakova, chief HR officer Tatyana Davydova, head of engineering Artur Ashirov, and other senior executives. This is what communicates the corporate spirit perfectly and helps you get into the mindset of the company.
EGR Technology: In your opinion, should other operators/vendors in the gaming industry implement similar programs?
(SP): Not all companies have enough capacities to establish an educational center. Due to the level of internal professional competence, Parimatch managed to organize the teaching process and prepare all the educational material in-house.
Now it is up to the gambling industry to pay back its technological duty, and projects like the Tech Academy will help accelerate that process.
EGR Technology: Would you say that your educational programs would contribute to greater growth in the gambling industry, or do you believe that these graduates could pursue other fields?
(SP): Thanks to the methodology of our Academy students gain knowledge and experience, as well as support and motivation for professional growth and development of the industry. The Academy teaches software skills, shapes outlook and shares its values. So, increasing the number of qualified and multidisciplinary experts will stimulate the development of the industry.
It is up to the company to decide whether a graduate qualifies to remain in the gambling industry. When the corporate culture is appalling, employees will leave. Parimatch’s crucial asset is people, so we nurture talents, encourage and support them, provide a comfortable working environment. And that’s why employees keep working and contribute to the improvement of the company and the industry as a whole.
EGR Technology: What are your expectations and plans for the Tech Academy over the next couple of years?
(SP): For the next program, which will begin in May, we are already introducing new courses. In the same way as with the new training modules, the number of applicants will depend on requests for placements and the teaching staff’s resources.
At the moment we expect to regularly enroll 100 new students every semester, in case you intend to work in the IT industry, we encourage you to check out our latest initiatives.