“I find working in domain names fascinating”

29th May 2020

A photo of a man in a smart blue shirt

Steve Coaker
Head of Commercial, Registry Solutions

It was as Channel Relations Manager that I joined Nominet five years ago and I’ve moved through a few different roles in the Registry Solutions team since then, becoming Head of Commercial in November last year. Now I have five people to manage and it helps to have done most of their roles previously so I can understand the challenges of the different positions and relate to them. The Registry Solutions business unit runs the .UK namespace and provides registry services to our registry operator clients.

Being Head of Commercial gives me three main responsibilities: the first is to manage the .UK registrar channel, the organisations that sell .UK domains to end users and include GoDaddy, IONOS and Namecheap. I also take responsibility for the commercial performance of the .UK namespace. Secondly our registry service customers need to be supported, companies like Amazon and Bentley, while the third part of my job is to seek out new business Registry Operators looking to switch to a new registry service provider (RSP).

It’s come as a surprise to me that I’ve spent my whole career working in the tech industry, although I am by no means an expert or specialist; my area has always been account management – after a post-uni job at Legoland anyway! The knowledge I have on tech isn’t deep but it’s broad, and working in different areas of the sector has given me such a great insight into various things that most people don’t know much about. Like domain names, which I work with at Nominet and find fascinating. The digital economy is so important, all companies need to be online today, and for most of them, a domain name is the first port of call. Understanding how it all works is really valuable and makes me feel more connected to the world.

Politics was my first love and when I was ten or eleven, I started reading the newspapers cover to cover to find out more about current affairs. At school, I was more into humanities subjects than maths or science and at university I studied Politics and International Relations, thinking I would join the civil service. Politics is still a real source of interest to me and elements of my degree do help me in my role at Nominet.  I work internationally, with the country code top level domain (ccTLD) community and attending ICANN meetings, plus working with clients across the world. It’s always interesting to see how different countries and cultures approach things in different ways and how a digital economy operates in one country compared to another– that feeds my interest in international relations!

A job like mine involves meeting a variety of people from all over the world, as well as working with different stakeholders and clients, so you need to be a people person. Having a commercial awareness, good management and negotiation skills, and confidence to speak at events and advocate for the company are crucial too. Advocating is easy for me as I’m passionate about Nominet and take pride in representing the company; we do some great and important work keeping .UK domains safe, secure, and ‘up and running’ for all those who use the namespace. Plus we have some incredible experts on our staff and I love the fact that we have access to them; there is so much to learn just from my colleagues.

Right from those first days at Nominet I found the company to be unlike any other I have worked for, having come from a world of start-ups and small businesses. Nominet is growing in size but I still feel listened to and valued, and it’s still small enough that we know most people’s names. There is the sense that you matter here, and you’re part of the bigger mission but also an individual. This is reflected in things like the flexible approach to benefits, which allows you to select the perks that are of value to you, depending on your own needs and life situation. The sense of being valued is also communicated by how seriously the company takes feedback and we are actively encouraged to regularly complete surveys about our experiences of working for Nominet – and they actually act on what we say.

Despite my initial interests in politics and international relations, I have no regrets about the path my career has taken. My current job is fascinating; I genuinely find domain names really interesting! And I’m totally a people person, so I love the fact that I am working with different people constantly, whether colleagues, clients or the members of the domain name community across the world. It’s interesting how life just works out right sometimes, and Nominet has offered me more opportunities and interest than I could have expected, plus it continues to evolve. It’s a pretty great place to be.

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