24 Apr 2023 Aspire to Tech: Impact Manager at GeoComply
Career Spotlight – Robin Alexander
What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?
My role is Impact Manager – I am responsible for applying our technology, our resources, and our insights to propel some key social causes which include child protection, through to sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. I’m located in London in the UK, but serving as a global function, looking after our different regions and offices and working collaboratively across different departments. I’ve been in this role for one and a half years, but I’ve been with GeoComply for about three and a half years because prior to this position, I was working in our Government Relations department.
What makes your job interesting?
We’re constantly thinking of new ways to tackle challenges at GeoComply. We are looking at, key problems that are facing the world, like the proliferation of online child abuse and other online harms, and asking how can we apply our knowledge and our technology in this space to improve the experience of people online. That’s one of the focus areas for us as Impact Managers. It’s interesting because it takes on a more innovative approach to social responsibility than you typically see. We love engaging with our community and our team around volunteering, but I think applying all our technology and resources to fight social causes is really interesting and unique. I absolutely love getting involved with the more technical side of things at GeoComply.
What is the most fun? What is the most challenging?
I think the most fun aspect of the job is certainly seeing the end result of some projects, especially the impact that it can have on people, both internally and externally. I love seeing a project come together, for example, a volunteering initiative that we’re running for our team that is always very well received amongst the GeoComply team. Seeing people get involved with the community is fantastic, and it’s always great to see a project come together in that regard.
The most challenging aspect of the role – and social impact work in general – is that there’s always more that can be done. It’s an evolving space. There’s always more work to be done and more issues to solve, and really understanding how you can effectively apply your time and your resources, and prioritize accordingly, is extremely important. There are so many challenges in the world, and we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin or burn ourselves out on just one issue. So really understanding how we can provide value in our community, and the global community is the biggest challenge.
How does your role help drive the company’s success?
I would say that social responsibility is central to us at GeoComply. It’s certainly a big priority for our leaders. Our CEO Anna Sainsbury is deeply dedicated to advancing these social causes. So being able to carry that vision forward is really rewarding. Of course, we can think about how we’re impacting the communities that we’re operating in, the industries that we’re operating in and also providing innovative solutions to long-standing issues. I see this as being our biggest impact. For example, we do a lot of work in the online child protection space. We’re looking at issues that are very real and happening today that are impacting the safety of our children online, and how things can be improved through the use of technology, or collaboration, or insights, to really change that experience. Otherwise, we find ourselves in a position where these issues are only getting worse. So, we need to think about how we can solve these problems.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?
We work on a lot of projects, and we have a lot going on at any one time, including applying our tech to fight child exploitation. We are thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally, and how we are advancing equity, and diversity externally as well. In addition, we’re thinking about industry responsibility – promoting player well-being is a large market share for us in the online sports betting & gaming industry.
There is a significant project management function within my role, keeping up to date with the project statuses, understanding where we want to go next in alignment with the strategic priorities of the business, and the issues at hand. We’re operating in an environment where we’re a hyper-growth company, so we want to ensure that we’re advancing the business goals in addition to achieving what we’re setting out to achieve in the community. We want to also be paying attention to what’s going on around us and the issues as they are evolving as well, so there is a research component to it as well, keeping on top of current affairs, both on the policy side, and also on things that are going on in our communities. We operate in a global business, and we’re constantly communicating across different time zones and countries to ensure that we’re aligned, and that we’re all moving forward together.
Tell us about your career history?
I have a bachelor’s degree in politics and international relations, and during my time at University, I took a significant interest in the intersection of technology and policy. My first position after leaving University was an internship at GeoComply, in the Government Relations team. I started off working closely with our regulatory and government relations team to understand the compliance needs of our technology, analyze new policies and understand our goals. I converted it into a full-time position and did that for two years – working with policymakers around thought leadership initiatives, around the digital identity and fraud space. When I was in my government relations position, there was no impact department, but we did impact work, so impact work has always been going on at GeoComply for a very long time. As a growing company, it was happening, just out of various different volunteers and initiatives. From there, we created the Impact Department in late 2021 and that’s when I transitioned into this role as Impact Manager due to my passion for the work that we were already doing, and my desire to drive it forward with these newly allocated resources.
What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?
When I did my internship, GeoComply was a much smaller company than it is now. We were about 130 global employees, we’re now 550, three and a half years later. As a result of joining at that time, I had some great exposure to our senior leaders to understand what issues that they wanted to tackle. I said yes to every opportunity as a keen intern wanting to learn and grow. One of those things was that I worked with Anna Sainsbury, our CEO – at the time she was President and Chair of the Board – on how we could apply our technology in the child protection space. That was a project I started working on as an intern, and I still work on now, so it really has been throughout my time at GeoComply, a deep passion of mine and now I get to work on it as part of my job, which is fantastic.
Where might you go next? What’s your next role?
I think that as the social impact and broader ESG space are becoming more and more important for many global businesses, I definitely see that as being the career path that I want to continue on. I think that many businesses recognize the role that they can play both internally with their teams, from a diversity, equity, and inclusion standpoint, but also externally on the impact on the environment and broader communities. The ESG space and the social impact space are where my career will go. I’m really excited about that, because I think it’s increasingly recognized as being an essential thing for people to be thinking about. I am personally very excited to see the impact of some of the projects that we’re working on in the long term and expansion of the team. As our global team grows, so will our impact. So, we need to expand the team and continue to serve these communities in the ways that we want to.
What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?
What keeps me in this job is the capacity for things to improve. We know that we’re not where we want to be as a global society on some of these issues such as environmental responsibility, through to other areas like inequality that people continue to face. That might be disheartening for some people, but it keeps me super engaged and motivated because there’s so much opportunity for improvement and solutions. I’m a problem-solver. I can see that with the right resources and the right people, you can really make a significant difference in people’s lives. Most jobs, roles, and companies have a technical aspect to them. Regardless of where my career takes me, there will always be a technical component. Technology can be such an amazing tool to advance social causes. Ultimately, we are all people, and we need people behind the tech to ensure that the tech is doing what we want it to do.
Any final words of advice, or advice for young people?
What has helped me in my career growth is saying yes, and taking opportunities because you never know where it can take you or what skills you’re going to develop.
There are certain things that I have done extremely reluctantly in the past, just due to my own, imposter syndrome or anxiety and fears, but pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone enables you to grow and enables you to tackle anxieties and fears that you never thought you could.
Then, finding work that aligns with your values and your personal purpose is a great way for you to love what you do. It keeps you engaged, and it’s extremely motivating for me in my work. I have a lot of alignment with the issues that we’re tackling and the values of the company in general. So, my advice to people who are looking for careers is to look at the company’s values and ask the people in the interview process about them and ask them how that plays out in a workplace. I think it’s a great way for you to find yourself in a role that will keep you motivated.