Our next instalment of Perform People sees Ryan Keaney, Product Owner for Opta, tell us all about himself!
Give us some background on your role at Perform
I am a Product Owner in the Content Product team. I work across the Opta data products with a particular focus on our Data Feeds, Tools and Applications – such as Live Monitor 3 and Query Tool – and the Data Editorial services.
My main goal is ensuring that the suite of data products we offer to our clients in the media, betting, broadcast and professional spheres are all up-to-scratch, interesting and suitable for their needs. That means staying up-to-date on current trends in the market place and ensuring that we have the products to match our eclectic client base.
The Product team work with teams all around the world and that can often mean I jump on calls with the team in the APAC in the morning, sort out issues for a client in the Americas in the evening and worry about the rest of the world somewhere in between.
Location of and life in the office
My official base is Oak House in Leeds, the old Opta stronghold and current Data Collection Hub; though I do pop up in Park Row regularly and show up in The Strand or Hanover House (London offices) several times a month.
The vast majority of the staff in Oak House all work in Group Ops which makes it a perfect setting to be able to do all of the awkward edge case testing that is required to ensure our feeds can handle the weird scenarios that live sport throw up (Lionel Messi passing a penalty to Luis Suarez is a memorable headache from the last 12 months).
What do you like most about your job?
Slightly egotistical but I enjoy seeing Products and Projects that I’ve worked on being used by people out in the real world.
Whether it has been Gary Neville posting a photo of the Sky broadcast truck on Twitter and seeing that his laptop has Live Monitor open, the BBC live blog using screenshots of widgets during a match day or seeing Opta Facts being used during Match of the Day (back when I was member of the Data Editorial team) or a new website launching with a host of Opta data on show, it all gives me a thrill and encourages me to keep pushing forward.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
As I’ve mentioned briefly, the client base for sports data is hugely varied. We have clients that want fixtures and results for hundreds of competitions while others may only want to know about a single competition, but they want every minute detail that we can extract about it.
The way they use the data can also be very different. Professional clubs and federations predominantly want the raw data so they can do their own manipulation whereas websites, brands or broadcasters want immediately consumable information that can be presented to their users within seconds of a thundering header, rampaging try or huge six being scored.
All of those options have to come from our feeds and we need to ensure that we can fulfill all of those needs as efficiently as possible. That can be quite daunting at times.
What drew you to work for Perform, and how has the company changed since?
I joined Opta in August 2012 as a member of the then Content and Customer Service team so I think it’s fair to say that the whole place is a little different now. In the beginning I was mostly excited to have the password for OptaJoe on Twitter. I made the switch to the Product team in February 2015.
As Opta have become part of the wider group, it has meant the Product team have had to think a little bigger with our ideas. The huge scope of what Perform does means we can get immediate feedback on projects from colleagues within the Media, Gaming or DAZN teams.
Favourite Perform Brand, and why?
I’m a huge football geek and I’ve been using Soccerway for as long as I can remember using the internet. It remains one of my favourite corners of the internet, as the breadth of information simply blows me away.
What do you get up to out of the office (interests, hobbies etc.)?
Outside of work, my interests don’t stray too far from football and sport. I’m one of the editors on the award-winning In Bed With Maradona website and one quarter of the Football Fives Podcast.
I also try my best to play a few sports, including golf and tennis. I’m also quite decent at korfball – it’s a mixed-sex basket sport I started playing at university. It takes elements from basketball and netball but has both guys and girls on the court at the same time and I currently play for Leeds City. It was through korfball that I met my wife which is an added bonus, and we’ve both previously represented our countries (Ireland for me and Scotland for her).
Now for the fun part…
If you could pick a superpower what would it be and why?
Having grown up with white, pasty, Irish skin I’d love to be able to spend any amount of time in direct sunlight. Even with the highest factor sun cream on I struggle in the heat, so the ability to get a tan would be pretty cool.
I fear I should have dreamed bigger.
If you could interview anyone from any time period, who would it be and why?
Oscar Wilde. He went to school in my hometown in Northern Ireland; and I would imagine he would have some incredible stories to tell.
Choose your Mr. Men or Little Miss character to describe your work life and your home life?
Little Miss Helpful at work. Mister Cheerful at home.
What came first, the chicken or the egg?
I recently read and enjoyed the theory that a chicken-like bird laid a chicken-like egg that was fertilized by a chicken-like rooster and the manner in which they combined – oh, you didn’t want a proper answer on this.
Back to reality…
Best advice you would give someone wanting to work for Perform?
When I applied to work at Opta, I was already followed on Twitter by my eventual boss as well as a couple of members of the marketing team; and they’ve admitted since then that that helped my application.
It has never been easier to put yourself in front of (and impress) eventual recruiters before you’ve even been invited to an interview.
Please could you think of a question for the next Perform Colleague? (Make it absolutely anything!)
Your Question from Rob Ellis was:
What was your best achievement in 2016?
I had a terrible year in 2016. I ruptured two major ligaments in my knee, which needed surgery, and spent over half the year on crutches/in a cast. So I’ve got to choose running 5km for the first time in 18 months just before Christmas. I was very pleased with myself.
Your Question for next Perform Colleague is:
What’s the billion pound business/app/product idea that you’ve got bubbling away in the back of your head?