Grainne Hurst majored in modern and contemporary history as an undergrad at Queen Mary University of London. She had yet to decide on a career path, so she majored in what most interested her.
“I hoped it would provide me with good transferable skills for the world of work,” Hurst says.
During her undergraduate days, Hurst chose all war-related courses, so it made sense to specialize in war studies for her master’s program at King’s College in London.
Upon graduation, Hurst applied for political research positions, only to be told she lacked enough experience. The best way to earn experience was through an internship. She landed one in the office of MP Philip Davies.
“I was lucky enough to be in an office with a boss who recognized my hard work, and when the opportunity became available for a full-time role I was interviewed and offered the job,” she explains.
While with Davies’ office, Hurst drafted speeches, monitored the media and produced briefings, at times related to gambling. “I definitely gained a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the industry.”
But after Davies, Hurst worked for the U.K. supermarket chain Asda, and also for the U.K. government.
“Both of these roles were fast-paced, juggling a variety of issues and managing numerous external stakeholders, as well as working on a team to tackle some complex issues—good grounding for working in the betting and gaming industry.”
That role began with Ladbrokes.
“I loved the presence and heritage connected to the Ladbrokes brand and could see there were a number of political and public policy headwinds in the not-too-distant future for the business, which I was keen to get involved with,” she says.
The company became part of Entain in 2018. Hurst oversees the corporation’s international regulatory affairs, except for those in the Americas. Her umbrella also includes political lobbying and safer gambling strategy.
The Hurst team covers a lot of ground on a daily basis to ensure the business is meeting regulatory requirements, operating to the highest standard for player protection and influencing public policy decisions.
Covid-19 took an unusual twist for Hurst.
“I returned to work from my second maternity leave to the new office in the corner of my bedroom,” she laughs.
Despite such an inconvenience—note the sarcasm—Hurst recruited and retained an excellent team.
“We have lots to be proud of during a difficult time, including the creation of our Advanced Responsibility and Care player protection system, winning the SBC Responsible Gaming Operator of the Year in 2021 and launching our first inaugural Entain Sustain event, highlighting our credentials in the areas of safer gambling and sustainability,” she says.
Hurst makes no bones about her future.
“I would like my boss’ job at Entain, overseeing both regulatory affairs and compliance for Entain across the globe.”
She has two pieces of advice for those who might want to follow in her footsteps.
“It is crucially important to build your network, both internally and externally so you can grow your knowledge and skills as well as having key experts you can draw on for advice and support,” she says. “Also, never forget the importance of going the extra mile and working hard—even at the things you don’t like or enjoy.”