After gaining independence from Sky itself, Sky Betting & Gaming wanted to raise their profile and build a strong reputation as an employer in their own right.

Especially as they were growing fast and had over 200 live opportunities, including many hard to fill software developer roles in fairly saturated Leeds and Sheffield markets.

When they were named one of The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Best Companies To Work For’, we spotted an unmissable chance to shout about what makes them different, to position them as an employer of choice to great tech talent in Leeds, Sheffield and beyond, and to try a few of our own groundbreaking ideas.

And boy, did it work! In 2016 they recruited 750 new people, with 300 in technology positions. Unbelievable, Jeff!

And that was just for starters. Since then, we’ve helped Sky Betting and Gaming deliver a fresh careers site, open a second office in Sheffield, win a whole host of awards, and bring their tribal spirit to life through a new employer brand.

We even worked together to deliver a recruitment industry first, and a world first too: our very own Ask Jeff. It’s an AI chatbot built on the Facebook Messenger platform and based on the larger than life personality of Sky Sport’s, Jeff Stelling.

AskJeff is able to pose and respond to questions on the company’s culture, an applicant’s status, business locations, benefits, social opportunities and more. It uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to give applicants 24/7 access to the recruitment process – which means it offers a responsive, interactive and enormously innovative experience from the moment an application starts, right through to someone’s first day with the company.

We’re very proud parents of Ask Jeff, and we can’t wait to conceive our next big idea.

In the meantime, we caught up with Head of Recruitment and all round top bloke, Matt Hughan, to find out a bit more…

How did you get into the industry?

"I fell into it in all honesty. I loved sports and betting and worked for arch rivals William Hill for 3 years in retail ops. I was approached for a role with another bookmaker but discovered I was more interested in talking to the recruiter than talking about the job in question. We stayed in touch and the rest is history. The agency came back and offered me a role recruiting into betting and gaming companies and I haven’t looked back. I loved agency life at first but like many, I couldn’t face the constant target driven daily call metrics. So I moved in-house and progressed through the ranks at and before landing here at SBG. When we divested out of Sky in 2015 and the CEO asked me if I wanted to stay on and head up recruitment, there was only ever one answer!"

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

"Something sport oriented, probably related to golf. In my early career I had a couple of interviews with some small sports marketing companies representing upcoming golfers on the various UK and European tours. Obviously, nothing ever came of it but who knows, I could have been the next Jerry McGuire!"

What’s the best piece of advice you've received in your career?

"Get to know everyone. It’s part and parcel of the role in recruitment and so much is leveraged off our networks to find the right people, but in an SME like Sky Bet and the larger companies I’ve worked at, you simply can’t know enough people. It helps with literally everything and once you know the right people you can learn, develop, engage and deliver value to the business by joining the dots between them all."

What advice would you give someone starting out in the sector?

"As above, get to know literally everyone you can. Work hard and don’t settle for ‘just enough’. Push boundaries, push yourself and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Working in recruitment is about finding new ways of working, and new ways of finding and engaging talent – and to do this successfully you need to constantly try new things."

What's the best thing about working with Chatter?

"Their enthusiasm and creativity is great and they never want to stand still and regurgitate the same old campaigns. I have no idea how they get through the amount of work they do either, burning the candle at both ends and still able deliver on time, every time. They know how to enjoy themselves too, an absolute must if working with us!"

What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?

"I’m currently not reading anything but I have just ordered Work Rules by Laszlo Bock the former Google CHRO and How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie in a vain attempt to try sound intelligent. As I write, I’m watching West Ham v Chelsea but with a 3.5-year-old and a 1 year old, Disney Channel’s Miles from Tomorrow (catchy theme tune, right?!), The Lion Guard and something dinosaur related are never far from the screen. Music wise, anything goes really but I love listening to the TED Radio Hour on my commute."

What’s your guilty pleasure?

"Chocolate. Bloody love the stuff."

Three words to describe yourself?

"I hope people would describe me as a 1) proper 2) decent 3) bloke. I certainly try to be anyway!"

What fact would surprise most people about you?

"Believe it or not, I was once fairly fit and I still hold my school record for the most points scored for the First XV rugby team in a season. 138 points in 12 games."