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International Women’s Day – Roundtable


International Women’s Day - Roundtable
International Women’s Day - Roundtable

  • Ana David, Head of Growth, Livespins

  • Alina Dandörfer, Co-founder and Director, Apparat Gaming

  • Chloe Foster, Production Manager, 1X2 Network

  • Danielle Calafato, Chief Commercial Officer, Gaming Corps

  • Katya Machuganova, Product Owner at Silverback.

  • Claudia Heiling, Co-Founder and COO at Golden Whale

  • Nic Le Cornu, UKI Marketing Manager/Fujitsu

  • Kristina Saskevich, Marketing Manager at SPRIBE

  • Gergana Tabakova, Chief Technical Architect at Fincore

  • Araminta Hannah, Director, Comparasino 

  • Oleksandra Panchenko, Chief Marketing Officer at BETBAZAR


Can you begin by introducing yourself and how you came to work in the igaming industry?


Ana David: I'm always curious to learn about people's "past lives" pre-iGaming because everyone seems to have a completely different career in everything from DJ'ing (shout-out to Michael our CCO) to working in the charity sector or in investment banking. My own background is in Journalism and then Gender Studies (fittingly!), so my ending up in iGaming in 2012 was completely accidental - purely due to Ebbe, the CEO of EveryMatrix taking a chance on a complete newbie.


I started off in B2B Sales, then transitioned into Account Management but always stayed on the commercial side where I feel I am closest to the action. I'm just a naturally curious person, so I like to stay close to where the news happens!


Alina Dandörfer: My name is Alina. In 2020, I co-founded the game development company Apparat Gaming with my former colleagues. On the founding day, the company was 100% German, with 87.5% male representation. I was the only woman in the team. Then, 3 ½ years later, women are in the majority (53%), and the team comprises 11 nationalities. That’s the awesome team behind Apparat Gaming from the diversity perspective, which I’ve been fortunate to build over the years and call my colleagues.


Chloe Foster: I’m Chloe Foster, Production Manager at 1X2Network. I joined the iGaming industry back in 2018 fresh out of university. I started in marketing and operations with another casino operator, then moved into a brief spell in account management and I am now producing games.


Danielle Calafato: I have a decade of expertise in a managerial finance role and seamlessly transitioned into the realm of commercial operations. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working with industry giants such as Catena Media, NetEnt and Microgaming where I've gained invaluable insights and skills.


Currently, as the Chief Commercial Officer at Gaming Corps, a rapidly growing game developer specialising in crash, mine games, slots, tables games and an innovative game type called Smash4Cash. I am driven to leverage my knowledge and strategic vision to propel the company to new heights in this dynamic and competitive industry. The company holds certification, licensing, or approval in 18 diverse markets, marking a significant achievement with the recent acquisition of our UK licence. Presently, we are live with over 1200 casinos and are progressing full steam ahead. 


Gergana Tabakova: Hello, I'm Gergana Tabakova, currently working as a Chief Technical Architect at Fincore. My journey in the igaming industry began over 20 years ago when I started as a backend developer. From the start, I found myself captivated by the intersection of business, mathematics, and technology. Handling technical complexities, managing substantial volumes of data and ensuring highly concurrent access became a significant part of my work. This was in addition to with meeting security requirements and meticulous levels of audit and traceability. Simultaneously, I delved into the financial aspects, dealing with the mathematics and business behind the system logic.


But what I still find most special is the feeling of turning an idea into something real, watching it come to life.


Nic Le Cornu: I’m Nic, Marketing Manager at Fujitsu. I’ve been in IT sales for more than 20 years, spending the last eight at Fujitsu first in sales roles and most recently in marketing. Fujitsu is a world-leading IT services, solutions and technology provider with extensive experience in designing, building and deploying IT systems, services and solutions across a range of sectors, including iGaming.


Our offering to the industry is unique in that we have a massive ecosystem of partners that we work with to bring cutting-edge solutions to our customers, including infrastructure, AI, security and more. This means online gambling businesses can enhance and future-proof their organisations through a unified, streamlined approach and with a single account manager. This provides our customers with a significant advantage over their rivals. 


Kristina Saskevich: My name is Kristina Saskevich, and I am the Marketing Manager at SPRIBE, the powerhouse studio behind the world’s number one crash game, Aviator. My journey into the iGaming industry began five years ago at SOFTSWISS. What brought me to this industry was its dynamic nature and the boundless opportunities that it offers for both creative expression and innovation.


Araminta Hannah: I began my career in PR and then a promotion allowed me to add digital marketing to my skill set. I was introduced to the world of iGaming in 2019 when I joined Ghostfoundry. Since then, I have used my knowledge and experience to support operators and affiliates with their content marketing activity, although mostly behind the scenes until recently.


In October last year, Ghostfoundry launched Comparasino, an online casino comparison site for players in the UK, so my role as Director is now more industry-facing. I’m hugely excited to be working on Comparasino as it brings together my skills and deep understanding of the UK online casino business.


Katya Machuganova: I am Katya Machuganova, and I hold the position of Product Owner at Silverback, which is owned by GAN. Silverback has quickly become one of the most in-demand content providers in regulated markets across North America and Europe. In my position, I actively work with various departments within the team, concentrating on everything game-related, which I love. Everything happens for a reason, as they say.


I joined the iGaming industry as an intern, bringing with me 15 years of management experience from various industries. This transition occurred amidst the Covid pandemic, following an unplanned relocation and a career restart while pursuing a Masters degree in digital media and Videogames. It didn't take long for me to realise that this is the perfect fit for me.


I've always aspired to work in a creative industry, crafting digital content for audiences seeking luxury, fun and excitement. This has been reflected in my career so far, having studied TV Journalism and later Architecture, being the proprietor of my own business and trademark in design and decoration at the young age of 21. Then managing teams in hospitality, along with my experience in business development and innovation management across various industries, has seamlessly translated into a perfect fit for my current role in iGaming.


Claudia Heiling: I’m Co-Founder and COO of Golden Whale, a company delivering machine learning infrastructure and services to gaming companies. A combination of early interest in PC games and luck brought me into gaming. Right after university, I started working at an – at that time – small startup called “Greentube”. I took every opportunity to grow my responsibilities in parallel to the fantastic evolution of the company, being instrumental in multiple successful market entries of games and portals in both B2C and B2B. I later went on to work in other industries too but missed the vibe of iGaming, which lead to founding Golden Whale together with my favourite colleagues from the past.


Oleksandra Panchenko: My name is Oleksandra Panchenko and I’ve been the Chief Marketing Officer at BETBAZAR for almost a year now. My career in iGaming started right around the time that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted a lot of businesses, so it was a challenging first few years in the industry for me. That being said, in my roles there as Marketing Manager, Team Lead for Digital Marketing and ultimately Head of Marketing, I was able to learn a lot very quickly and I feel lucky to now be able to carry these skills with me into my current CMO role at BETBAZAR.


Do you believe the industry is doing enough when it comes to diversity?


Ana David: As with all things, progress is gradual and non-linear, but the direction is clear and the change in iGaming has been massive (admittedly, from a very low base!). I don't think we should sugarcoat anything: When I first started off, iGaming events were at the very least uncomfortable and, at worst, quite dangerous places to be in as a woman. There were many times when I thought about leaving the industry. Most sales conversations were deferred to the men in the room and networking, especially after business hours, often felt like walking a tightrope.

 

Today, however, that's changed massively and there are enough women working, speaking, networking and supporting other women in the industry. There are now prominent and consistent voices supporting diversity, both female and male, from Kelly Kehn, who's been tirelessly fighting our corner for years, to Tsachi Maimon or Phil Pearson who are vocal about the need to put more effort into achieving equality.

 

Overall, progress is happening, but in my experience career growth opportunities are still significantly scarcer for women - especially opportunities toward C-level, decision-making roles - and it generally takes women longer to get there.          

 

Alina Dandörfer: While progress has been made, the iGaming industry still has strides to make in fostering diversity. The increased professionalism has led to the shift in the traditionally attributed role for women. Overly sexualised portrayals are no longer acceptable, presumably facilitating the path for women to embrace diverse roles in the industry. However, I believe by looking at the industry landscape there is still insufficient effort in promoting diversity.

 

Acknowledging that diversity extends beyond gender is crucial. Identifying the plethora of traits against which discrimination is possible such as e.g. ethnic background, religion, age. Consequently, it's crucial for the industry to continually assess and enhance its efforts to ensure a more equitable and diverse environment.

 

Chloe Foster: Despite my relatively brief tenure in the iGaming industry, I've observed a commendable increase in workforce diversity. However, it's clear that achieving diversity, particularly at the C-suite and senior leadership levels, remains a work in progress. I'm optimistic that with sustained efforts and time, we will see even greater representation across all levels of the industry.

 

Danielle Calafato: Firsthand, I have not experienced situations where race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability posed roadblocks. The beauty of iGaming lies in its international character, which offers opportunities to connect with like-minded people from diverse backgrounds.


Zooming out, it's evident that iGaming remains predominantly male-oriented, indicating the need for steps toward greater diversity. Speaking from my personal experiences, I've been fortunate to work in businesses with a fairly equal gender split throughout my career. I don't perceive men as receiving better opportunities than women. Personally, I've advanced my career steadily through sheer hard work and dedication. If I can do this, so can anyone else. I strongly believe in women supporting and empowering each other.

 

Gergana Tabakova: I believe fostering diversity is a collective responsibility that begins with society and extends to different industries drawing their resources from it. It starts at the foundational level of schools and universities, where the emphasis should not be on "profiling" backgrounds or personal traits as determinants of success in a particular profession.

 

Instead, the focus should be on encouraging young individuals to pursue their interests, follow their hearts, and engage their minds. By promoting inclusivity and openness, we can create an environment where diversity thrives organically, enriching both society and the industries it encompasses.

 

Nic Le Cornu: As we have developed as human beings, our understanding of diversity and the tremendous upsides it brings to society and business have improved drastically. Today, diversity is front of mind at many organisations and among senior leaders, with great progress being made to level the playing field for all. Fujitsu is doing some incredible things in this regard, such as using pioneering technologies to remove masculine sentences from job descriptions to encourage more female candidates to apply for roles. 

 

We are also doing a lot of education activity and training to remove unconscious bias throughout the recruitment process to help achieve our goal of hitting a 50/50 gender split between applicants. For those already part of the organisation, we provide the support they need to progress their careers – we have an excellent mentor program and offer training to close skill gaps – and make sure that all employees are heard and given equal opportunities to climb the ladder based on merit.

 

Of course, there is always more that can be done and for me, this means going back to the start of a person’s career and when they are leaving school or higher education. The online gambling industry has historically been male-dominated, and this is often the perception that younger female candidates have – a perception that can deter them from pursuing a career in the sector. But this perception can be changed by companies having a presence at career fairs, and by senior female executives sharing their stories and showcasing all that the industry has to offer. 

 

Kristina Saskevich: While progress has been made, there is still much more to be done in terms of diversity within the iGaming industry. 

 

Araminta Hannah: This industry does a lot of good across a lot of different areas, including diversity. But it seems to be the case that this often goes unrecognised with constant calls to do more. You can always do more, but it’s important to recognise the progress made and this can clearly be seen by the number of females moving into senior leadership roles, founding businesses and enjoying glittering careers in the industry. For Comparasino, we hire entirely on merit, and this has allowed us to build an authentically diverse and hugely talented team.

 

Katya Machuganova: While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to attract more women into the iGaming industry. Historically male-dominated, it is crucial to dismantle barriers and foster a welcoming environment for women to thrive. A recent statement on LinkedIn resonated with me, asserting that the women we envision in iGaming are undeniably dominating the industry rather than being dominated.

 

Claudia Heiling: Comparing the state of the industry to 20 years ago, I notice a huge shift in diversity – seeing how many women and people of different backgrounds we can see at every iGaming conference is a testament of that. Despite all this, I believe – as is the case in almost every other industry – there’re still things that could be done better. Recent studies show that diverse teams deliver better results and make better decisions. I believe every leader, whether male or female, should actively focus on offering opportunities equally and making conscious decisions about diversity when hiring and promoting staff members.

 

Oleksandra Panchenko: The iGaming industry, like many sectors, has recognised the importance of diversity and inclusion in recent years and efforts have definitely been made to improve these aspects, but in my opinion there’s still progress to be made. Some companies have implemented initiatives such as promoting gender diversity, supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion and increasing the presence of underrepresented groups within the workforce, but the effectiveness of these has varied. I think the key is to make policies that don’t just pay lip service to diversity, but also have a genuine impact on working culture.

 

Representation of women across the betting and gaming industry is continuing to improve, but what more can companies do to ensure that women are equally represented in senior positions? Does the gambling industry have an ‘image problem’ when it comes to attracting talent?


Ana David: I will use conference speaker lists as a proxy for women's representation: I think that in recent years, we've moved from all-male panels to having a couple of token female speakers, usually in less senior roles than their male counterparts because there just aren't that many visible C-level/Founder women to choose from.

 

Hopefully, we will soon get to a place where there will be more women at the very centre of the decision-making process instead of peripheral to it: More women CEOs, MDs, Founders, CCOs and so on.

 

In my view, women in the industry are often (seen as) the silent doers in the background instead of the vocal leaders at the front - and that has to do with how others see us and often how we see ourselves. I'd encourage any executives who might read this to pick a female "doer" in their company and champion her as a leader. I had my own champion at Play'n GO, one of my best industry friends Stuart Trigwell, and I'll always be grateful for the confidence that he's shown in me, often exceeding my own. It sounds like a cliche, but we can work through problems together, men and women, because we're all colleagues and we all ultimately want to have profitable and healthy organisations.   

 

Alina Dandörfer: In my opinion, it is more than just an image problem: by failing to address issues such as the risk of addiction, money laundering and sexism, our industry has actually earned the label of being part of the "sin industries". This has certainly improved over the years and the severity of this image problem varies depending on the country and societal groups. Therefore, companies in the gambling industry should actively identify and dismantle any existing barriers to advancement. It's crucial to assess the company's geographic location, societal attitudes toward gambling, recruitment sources, and, thus, potential actions.

 

To ensure equal representation of women in top positions, transparency, role models, and addressing root causes are key in increasing the talent pool of candidates. Starting as early as job postings, adapting them to appeal to women, and involving women in interviews to establish direct connections with peers and role models. Ensure equal compensation and career opportunities by demonstrating transparent promotion processes. Further, it includes providing mentorship opportunities, and establishing diversity goals.

 

Moreover, fostering a workplace culture that values and promotes work-life balance can attract and retain female talent. While progress has been made, addressing the industry's potential 'image problem' involves showcasing diverse success stories, emphasising a commitment to inclusivity, and actively engaging with communities to dispel stereotypes.

 

Chloe Foster: The representation of women in the betting and gaming industry has seen improvement, reflecting a broader trend towards gender diversity across various sectors. However, the journey towards achieving full equality, especially in senior positions, is ongoing. Companies can adopt several strategies to ensure women are equally represented at the highest levels of leadership. Organisations must cultivate an inclusive culture that actively supports women's career advancement. This involves more than just opening doors to senior roles; it means providing mentorship programs, leadership training, and career development opportunities specifically tailored to address the unique challenges and barriers women face in the industry.

 

Companies should implement transparent hiring and promotion processes to eliminate biases that might hinder women's progression into senior roles. This includes diversifying recruitment channels, employing blind recruitment practices where feasible, and establishing clear, objective criteria for advancement. Addressing the perceived image problem of the gambling industry is equally crucial in attracting diverse talent. The industry must work collectively to shift perceptions by highlighting the technological innovation, commitment to social responsibility, and the inclusive, dynamic work environments it offers. Showcasing successful female leaders and creating platforms for their voices and stories can help alter outdated stereotypes and demonstrate the industry's commitment to gender diversity.

 

Additionally, engaging with educational institutions and communities to highlight the range of career opportunities within the industry can help attract a more diverse pool of applicants, including women. By breaking down misconceptions and showcasing the positive aspects of the industry, companies can attract a wider range of talent, enriching the sector's diversity and enhancing its overall competitiveness and creativity.

 

In summary, while there has been progress in the representation of women in the betting and gaming industry, there is a clear need for continued effort and commitment. Companies can and should implement targeted strategies to support women's advancement into senior roles and work to improve the industry's image to attract diverse talent. Through these efforts, the industry can achieve not only greater gender equality but also foster an environment of innovation and excellence.

 

Danielle Calafato: To level the playing field for women in higher-up roles in the betting and gaming industry, companies need to get proactive about diversity. That means setting goals for having more women in senior positions and offering mentorship programmes geared towards helping women climb the career ladder. Plus, making work schedules more flexible can help balance out responsibilities like caregiving.

 

To shake off the industry's reputation as a boys' club and bring in a wider range of talent, companies should show off their inclusive policies and get involved in communities. By putting diversity front and centre, they will create fairer workplaces where everyone, no matter their gender, can thrive.

 

Gergana Tabakova: Over the past decade, we've witnessed a transformation in the representation of women within the betting and gaming industry, and this positive trend seems to have continued into 2024. However, to ensure equitable representation in senior positions, companies can take more proactive measures, actively identify, and address any remaining barriers or biases. For example, implementing mentoring programs and fostering a culture that values and promotes gender diversity are crucial steps.

 

Nic Le Cornu: We need to get better at showcasing examples of women who are doing incredible things in the industry, and there are plenty of them. By sharing their stories, including the challenges they faced and how they were overcome, these female leaders can inspire other women to break down barriers and achieve great things in the industry. This will also help to change the perception that many young females have about the sector, in that it is male-dominated and hard for them to progress into senior leadership roles. 

 

In the eight years I have been with Fujitsu the industry has made tremendous progress. I must say that Fujitsu has been ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity – when I first joined, I was amazed at how progressive the organisation was – and has stayed there by constantly looking to improve its culture and provide equal opportunities to all. Much of this work has been around removing the unconscious biases that we all have so that any candidate can be considered for a position or promotion entirely on merit.

 

Kristina Saskevich: There has been an improvement in the representation of women in senior positions in the iGaming industry during the last few years, but there is still work to do. In my opinion, to ensure equal representation, companies need to implement policies and initiatives that support the advancement of women into leadership roles. Initiatives should include mentorship programs, leadership training and creating a supportive work environment that is free from gender bias.

 

Araminta Hannah: With any “vice” industry, some people will initially be hesitant to consider a career in the sector. This is why it’s important to shout about the brilliant things being done, from the push for diversity to the innovative technologies and pioneering products that are changing the game in this space and others. This is an industry where opportunities are rife, and with the right approach – mostly dedication and hard work – you can achieve anything you set your sights on. The companies that have promoted the industry, and prioritised diversity, are now benefiting from an influx of exceptional candidates applying for positions within their organisations. 

 

Katya Machuganova: Efforts should centre on promoting gender diversity, providing mentorship, and networking opportunities, ensuring equal career advancement, and addressing any prevailing biases or stereotypes. We should be actively encouraging and supporting women to enter and excel in the iGaming industry which will allow for a broader range of perspectives and talent, fostering innovation and success. Organisations like Global Gaming Women and Women in Gaming are making significant contributions to this cause.

 

Conversely, the global expansion of the online sports betting market corresponds with the increased popularity of women's sports and the growing influence of female gamers. An example of a traditionally male-dominated sport investing in diversity and inclusion is the F1 Academy, a female-only single-seater racing championship founded by Formula One. The creation of F1 Academy focuses on developing and preparing young female drivers to advance to higher levels of competition.

 

Claudia Heiling: One aspect sticks out for me: Offer flexible hours, remote work options and parental leave. Most importantly, truly live this kind of culture, ensuring parents can take care of their caregiving responsibilities, e.g. pick up their kids from school without missing important meetings. This needs to be true for all genders to offer equal opportunities in leadership.

 

Our industry is fast, creative and constantly growing – positive aspects we all can highlight when looking for new talent, who might not show an interest in gaming at first. From a data science perspective, it’s living the dream with such a large amount of data available to work on!

 

Oleksandra Panchenko: I think in a few of the industry’s larger, better-known companies, there are unfortunately still some conservative and patriarchal views that prevail in regards to the admission of women to senior positions. In terms of what can be done to improve this, I think it should be fairly obvious to most people that professional success - and, accordingly, the success of a company - is not determined by gender, but rather by experience and expertise. So long as the management team or the founder understands this, the question of whether a man or a woman should have a senior role no longer exists; it just goes to the best person for the job.

 

The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion’. Going beyond gender diversity, how can the gambling industry as a whole best ensure that it is fostering a culture of inclusion?

 

Ana David: Speak more bluntly and move beyond "corporate speak". Be more pragmatic when offering solutions and cut to the chase: discuss salary discrepancies, share real-life truths (both positive and negative), run an annual, industry-wide survey measuring how women feel in their workplace: At the most basic level, do they feel safe? Do they think they're paid fairly? Then at the highest level, do they feel seen and valued? I'd be curious to see how those results change from year to year.

 

It would also be interesting to measure how long it takes women on average to get their first management position versus men - basically the "broken rung" theory that says fewer women make it into C-Level positions because fewer women make it into any management positions in the first place, so the whole journey takes longer from start to finish. 

 

Alina Dandörfer: From a company’s perspective, the best way to foster a culture of inclusion is to overcome discrimination both externally in the visible realm and internally within the company. Additionally, the product or service offered must also liberate itself from gender-specific biases and celebrate diversity. Therefore, to foster a culture of inclusion in the gambling industry, it's vital to prioritise a multi-faceted approach. This includes implementing diversity and inclusion training for employees, creating mentorship programs, promoting a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, and actively seeking diverse perspectives in decision-making processes.

 

Additionally, the industry should collaborate with external organisations to gain insights and best practices, such as All-in Diversity Project. Building a truly inclusive culture requires ongoing commitment and a proactive stance from all stakeholders. It starts with small things, such as pointing out that a casual remark in a meeting was inappropriate, regardless of the source.

 

Chloe Foster: The theme 'Inspire Inclusion' for International Women's Day 2024 underscores the importance of creating an environment where diversity in all its forms is recognised, celebrated, and leveraged for the betterment of the industry and its stakeholders.


For the iGaming industry, fostering a culture of inclusion goes beyond addressing gender diversity; it involves embracing a wide spectrum of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This can be by implementing initiatives such as inclusive policies, educational programs, diversity in leadership, driving a supportive working environment and community engagement programs.


Danielle Calafato: I fully support the theme of 'Inspire Inclusion' for International Women's Day 2024. Effecting change starts with personal action, taking one step at a time. My door is always open, and I'm here to offer guidance or assistance to anyone in need. Don't hesitate to reach out anytime; I'm ready to lend a hand.


In fact, I'm one of five women who manage the Women in Gaming Network WhatsApp group, which boasts over 650 members. Our group is dedicated to inspiring and supporting one another, whether it's sharing contacts to accomplish work tasks, providing support during job searches, or offering encouragement during tough times. We recently gathered during ICE and are planning another meetup in the next two months.


Gergana Tabakova: Adopting a culture of inclusion in the industry extends beyond gender diversity and involves creating an environment where diverse teams thrive. The essence lies in recognising that the most innovative ideas emerge from teams with varied perspectives, shaped by different backgrounds and experiences. It's about cultivating an atmosphere where individuals feel valued for their unique contributions, promoting an open dialogue that includes diverse viewpoints.


By championing diversity of thought, the industry can ensure that every member, regardless of background or identity, feels empowered to contribute to the common vision, ultimately driving innovation and success.


Nic Le Cornu: The power of diversity is widely understood, the challenge comes in building it into company culture and hiring practices. How this is done will differ from company to company, and it’s more of a priority for some than it is for others. But to keep making progress, inclusion and diversity need to be front of mind and with plans and strategies in place to ensure it is effectively integrated into organisations and the wider industry. I also think it’s important that we are open and honest about diversity and inclusion and the challenges it presents while being authentic in how we look to clear these hurdles. 


Kristina Saskevich: At SPRIBE, we have diversity, corporate culture and recruiting practices that ensure we are looking at talent from all backgrounds. We do not apply barriers to entry in the hiring process. 


The true benefit of diversity is being able to challenge and improve the way your team thinks and functions. You don’t get that unless you embrace, celebrate and empower people to show up as their true selves. Our different views of the world and our unique perspectives all contributes to an innovative and inclusive work environment that is forward-focused.


Diverse workplaces also build and foster a sense of trust and mutual respect between colleagues. Mental wellbeing is the most important element of effective collaboration. By fostering a culture that embraces cultural diversity, you can boost your employees’ sense of belonging, which is essential to keeping your team happy and healthy.


Araminta Hannah: Consider a person for a role purely on merit. To do this, companies must ensure biases – both conscious and unconscious – are removed and that all candidates are given a level playing field on which to compete for a position. Inclusion is about more than box ticking and businesses must really buy into the concept and be authentic in how they deliver it. This means not giving a female candidate the promotion just because the company is seeking a greater balance between male and female executives.


Positions should always be awarded to the best candidate for the role. But do that within an environment where everyone is equal, and the equality businesses are seeking will naturally come about.


Katya Machuganova: By promoting inclusion and supporting of all women, both famous and unknown, we can make this journey even more vibrant, with everyone able to add their unique colours to the canvas of our collective success. Every day, I find inspiration from different women in the industry, because there are so many, each with their unique contributions that deserve recognition and appreciation.


Claudia Heiling: The answer to this, in my perspective, is leading by example. I was lucky enough to experience an inclusive work environment throughout my early career, where results of our work counted, not our gender or background. I believe that any DEI measures, whether implicitly or actively promoted at the workplace, will not be credible if not set by the tone of the leadership team. Promoting representation by making various role models visible supports the cause too, as source of inspiration for others.


In my opinion the answer is very simple: always hire people for their professional qualities - irrespective of their gender, ethnic background or sexual orientation - and never hide anyone. Take them with you to industry exhibitions, negotiations and discussions with other partners; anywhere where you think the knowledge and skills of that particular specialist will be relevant. I’d expect that the sooner companies move away from this outdated framework of business being a “man’s world”, the fewer questions will arise about inequality in the industry and the more inclusive igaming will be.


What advice would you give to newcomers in the igaming space who want to work towards a senior leadership position?

 

Ana David: I would say your work alone might not get you there (or not fast enough), external factors will count just as much. I will use a start-up analogy to illustrate my point around the importance of context: the same tech start-up in Eastern Europe would raise a fraction of the funding they'd be able to raise in Silicon Valley, purely due to the different markets they operate in.

 

Career-wise, company culture and your direct managers will play an overwhelmingly huge role in increasing your knowledge and your career advancement. Choose a supportive company and a manager who sees your strength and potential as a leader - and see yourself as one as well.

 

Alina Dandörfer: Well, I guess choose a company where you believe you can thrive as an individual. Actively inquire about the steps the company takes to promote diversity within the organisation. Seek mentorship from experienced professionals and network within the industry.

 

Additionally, demonstrate a proactive approach, contribute innovative ideas, and show dedication to fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. Strive to make a meaningful impact, and don't underestimate the importance of building a diverse professional network. It all starts with you.

 

Chloe Foster: For newcomers in the iGaming space aspiring to climb the ladder towards senior leadership positions, the path can be both challenging and rewarding. To help navigate your career trajectory effectively, I would suggest the following:


  • - Build a strong knowledge of the industry – the games, the markets, the regulations and the inner workings.

  • - Develop broad skills – grow both technical skill and business acumen. Focus on developing skills that are in high demand from data analytics to product development.

  • - Cultivate a network – attend conferences, engage online (LinkedIn etc).

  • - Embrace continuous learning – iGaming is fast paced so there is always something new to learn.

  • - Understand the importance of Responsible Gambling – as you aspire to lead it’s essential to recognise the industry’s impact on individuals and society.

  • - Develop your leadership skills – knowing how to manage teams, inspire others and drive towards a common goal is as important as industry knowledge.

 

Danielle Calafato: Clearly define your goals. Ensure that you give it your best shot. Keep learning every single day and strive to improve continuously. Stay updated on industry news and follow trends. Your network is crucial, so be kind and treat people with respect. Embrace challenges that are thrown at you and strive to become a leader who guides the team; don't just be a boss.

 

Gergana Tabakova: To newcomers navigating the dynamic realm of igaming, my advice is straightforward: embrace a journey of continuous learning and actively seek mentorship from seasoned professionals. Set ambitious goals, stay resilient in the face of challenges, and proactively expand your skill set. Acknowledge that the journey may present challenges, but maintaining persistent self-confidence and a commitment to personal and professional growth will undoubtedly lead you towards achieving professional recognition and career success.

 

Nic Le Cornu: Find a mentor. I have been incredibly lucky to have some truly brilliant female leaders mentor me throughout my career. Fujitsu has a great mentoring platform that is helping to bring forward highly talented female executives into leadership roles across the organisation, showing the power a role model can have on someone achieving their full potential and the progress they make with their career. It’s also important to ask questions and get involved. Plan out your career and where to want to go, seek advice and support when you need it, and believe in yourself.  

 

Kristina Saskevich: I would advise newcomers to the iGaming industry to focus on continuous learning and development. Seek out opportunities to expand your skills, whether through formal education, mentorship programs, or hands-on experience. Additionally, don't underestimate the power of networking and building relationships within the industry. And finally, stay resilient and adaptable as the iGaming landscape is constantly evolving, and being able to navigate change is essential for success.

 

Araminta Hannah: Take risks, ask questions and never stop learning. The chances are you will need to wear many hats throughout your career; embrace it and see it as a great chance to add to your skill set, meet new people and further develop yourself. Seek out opportunities, be scared of the responsibilities you take on (this usually means you are doing something great), put yourself out there and take every opportunity that comes your way. Remember an overnight success story is never that; it is always a tale of years of dedication and hard work. 

 

Katya Machuganova: Having a well-defined career goal and perspective, seeking a job that aligns with your character, knowledge, and experience, continuously challenging yourself through learning, and dedicating 110% with a "can-do" attitude appears to be a solid formula for initiating success.

 

Claudia Heiling: Look out for people who support you and who you can support. Be solution-oriented and help solve problems for your superiors. Don’t overthink the fact that you are a woman or have a different background. Focus on your skills and get things done. Speak up for yourself and don’t wait to be chosen (this is especially true for introverts!). Change the workplace if you don’t feel the culture is right. Make meaningful connections wherever possible and look out for role models you find inspiring.

 

Oleksandra Panchenko: The first thing you need to do is find a professional niche that you love and are interested in. From there, it’s simply a case of remembering to communicate regularly with other related departments and even the people who may only be slightly tangential to your work in order to get a better overview of how everything in your organisation fits together. Always be willing to try out new approaches and - this is very important - never, ever be afraid to express your opinion or disagree with decisions, particularly ones that you feel will negatively impact your work or success.

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