Live: Q&A with Matt Wade, director of technology at GiveToLocal

Matt Wade, Director of Technology at GiveToLocal, is helping to drive greater accessibility, functionality and transparency at an organisation engaging with more than 55,000 community sport teams across the UK

What attracted you to the GiveToLocal team?

I saw an ambitious team developing potentially powerful technology in order to prove sport’s power to do good. I wanted to be a part of that team and be a part of enabling positive change. When I joined GiveToLocal football was the focus but in a very short space of time we’ve been able to support a further 14 sports. I always recognised that opportunity to scale and scale fast. I’d love to see us continue to broaden our reach and support as many sports as possible. From a technical standpoint it’s something I feel we’re capable of doing and from a personal standpoint it would feel great to play a part in supporting more people, more of the time.

Is sport a passion?

That’s an understatement! I think you’d be hard pressed to find a member of staff at GiveToLocal who doesn’t have some sort of connection to sport. In truth, I’m not the most active member of the team. I don’t play enough sport. But when it comes to watching sport I’m a world beater! I’ll watch anything going and have been known to have multiple fixtures playing on different devices at the same time. For my sins, I’m also a Newcastle United fan and back in the days when supporters were allowed to attend games I made full use of my season ticket. I’ve been interested in football — and St James’s Park — for as long as I can remember. Our co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Jerome Iveson, is a Sunderland fan so we’ve got all bases covered in the technology team.

Is technology in your blood?

It was all about computer science for me when I was at university in Sheffield. I’ve been working in technology for the last 11 years — as a web developer and technical director — and I specialise in bespoke web systems and API development. Scalable technology fascinates me and it’s key to the growth and efficiency of an organisation like GiveToLocal.

Can you describe your role at GiveToLocal?

I’m part of a development team that works closely with senior management to ensure our web-based application is flexible, efficient and user-friendly. It’s my job to oversee the development of our technology and to manage the technical team. They are the frontline when it comes to supporting our community sports clubs and that support is a key part of the service we provide. I ensure that our website and web-based app remain stable and that both are performing to an optimum level. One of GiveToLocal’s primary focuses — from day one — has been to design and develop technology that can be used at scale by thousands of community sport teams at the same time. Everything we do is geared towards guaranteeing a seamless service for our growing community.

Where does technology sit within GiveToLocal’s broader vision?

That’s a good question. We deliver a web-based service, available online. For that service to work effectively and efficiently we need to be ahead of the curve. The influx of new clubs and sports to the platform means that our technology has to be capable of reaching large numbers of users without blinking. It needs to be highly resilient. If our technology, like the website and the web-app, is in a good place, then this will allow us to pivot quickly between sports and campaigns. The underlying concept remains the same — expert support and ease of use is our mantra and that’s the same whether you’re involved in a swimming club or a rugby club.

Is the focus of your work changing?

Constantly. Our primary focus is optimising the process and integrating with socials. Beyond that there are several strands of our work which demand constant reappraisal. We want to make it as easy as possible for volunteers to drive up user numbers within their club. Of course, the more effective that process is, the more users we‘ll onboard and the more adept and proactive our technology needs to be. But from the outset we built in measures to future proof our web-based app and position it to be able to adapt to the fast-paced nature of developing technology. It’s designed to absorb those advances and ensure that we’re in a position to capitalise on positive change. We can leverage any technological development to our advantage and pivot quickly for the benefit of the GiveToLocal community. It’s the same with other departments right across the organisation — as a service we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the curve.

What will drive GiveToLocal forward into 2021?

As an organisation we’ll always ask ourselves this: what are we trying to achieve and what are the best tools for the job? In the world of technology that answer changes frequently and that’s what keeps us focused. But we’re ready for the challenge and ready to evolve. If you love sport then it’s impossible to ignore the fact that GiveToLocal has the potential to have a lasting and positive effect on community sport.

For more information on GiveToLocal please visit – www.givetolocal.com

 

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