Although you have been in your current position as Managing Director, Gaming, for three years, you have been in Clarion for over 16 years. What was your previous knowledge or contact with gambling? When you take a look back, what would you say were your main learning over the years?
I’ve had a long career in the events industry and I think that, when you work in this sector, you pick-up different aspects and insights from the various verticals that you work in. What this means is that you never stand still and you never get complacent. One of the maxims or sayings that I subscribe to is to back‘never ask why and always ask why not?’ This means that you avoid getting stuck in your ways and doing things a certain way because you’ve always done it like that. Events can get tired and it’s my job to always challenge and to get my team to always think about new ways of doing things. I have previously worked in travel and retail as two key sectors and there’s a lot that can be learned from applying the knowledge gained working in different industries. I think the fundamentals of running a successful and vibrant live event probably are the same across all verticals. Once you get those fundamentals in place, it’s about looking for the creative spins that can be applied to make an event stand-out. ICE London has followed a brand-led development strategy, which means doing things with confidence and with creativity, always working in the best interests of and in collaboration with stakeholders. This strategy gives me and the team the opportunity to express our values and our ambitions for what is the biggest business-to-business gambling event in the world.
The past two years have been a struggle and a challenge for any event organizer. How did you and your team keep focused and motivated? In which way the company was able to enhance some internal processes to be today a better group, in terms of its business and its people?
When the new team took charge of ICE, no one could have foreseen a global pandemic and the impact that it would have on the entire world, followed by the awful events that we are witnessing unfolding in Ukraine. The ICE brand is all about the delivery of a world class live event and the fact that the team hasn’t been able to demonstrate what it does best for over 2-years now is really frustrating. I’ve been very conscious of the fact that the teams responsible for delivering ICE London and iGB Affiliate London also have their own very human emotions. COVID-19 has impacted people in many different ways and it was vital that we were aware of the need to, on occasions, slow down, recognise that working from home could be isolating for some people and provide the network of support to help deal with circumstances none of us had previously encountered. The need to do things differently in the absence of live events saw Clarion Gaming make a major investment in our digital presence via ICE365.com and I think that provided a new focus for the team. There’s no doubt that everyone is really excited to be back doing what they do best and that’s putting on really vibrant and dynamic in-person events. As a group, we cannot wait for the doors to open at ExCeL London on April 12th!
Considering gaming industry as a family, joining together against big issues such as the pandemic and current war in Europe, why do you think it is essential for any executive to be there in London to support Clarion and the whole gambling and entertainment sectors?
You are absolutely right. The last two-years have been extremely difficult for many people and businesses in the industry, in particular, those active in land-based gaming whose operations were among the first forced to close due to the pandemic. Despite the difficulties facing the industry and the unavoidable problems concerning our enforced temporary dates, ICE London 2022 will be the biggest gathering of the international industry since the last edition of ICE two years ago. ICE enjoys a reputation for being the place where innovators choose to launch products and services that can be described as game-changers. As one of our stakeholders recently said: “It’s the place to be inspired.” Speaking on a practical level, visitors will have access to initiatives such as Pitch ICE, World Regulatory Briefing, the ICE VOX conference programme, the expanded Consumer Protection Zone, and our brand-new Hosted Meetings Programme. In addition, there will be no better place for executives in the gaming and gambling industry to receive a comprehensive understanding of the Esports phenomenon and how their businesses can benefit from it. The ICE London experience is underpinned by technology, innovation and opportunity and when these qualities come together, the event is genuinely unmissable.
How would you describe yourself as a leader? What’s your leadership style to better transmit your ideas and goals to your collaborators?
What I have appreciated over my career and, in particular, over the last two-years is the importance of keeping calm, being focused and, especially, the importance of surrounding yourself with talented people. From a personal perspective, I will never ask a member of the team to do a task that I wouldn’t do myself. I hope that I inspire people by keeping calm and empower the team and back individuals to make the right decisions. If things go wrong, which they inevitably will at some stage when delivering events the size of ICE London and the co-located iGB Affiliate London, you cannot look for people to blame. When we win, we do so as a team, and similarly if we lose, it is a collective responsibility. Human beings will not flourish if they are scared of failing, which is why we recognise people who are prepared to do the simple things to an outstanding standard, but are also prepared to tackle big challenges in a creative and imaginative way. I am extremely grateful to have such a dynamic and gifted team to work with.
What are your main expectations for the upcoming ICE London and iGB Affiliate London events that will take place from April 12th to 14th?
Visitors will be a part of a different version of ICE London, but still one that delivers an outstanding experience. ICE has always set the tone for the year ahead and the stands at ExCeL London will be brimming with the projected 1,800 new products and services that have the potential to transform the industry. I want the sector to rediscover why they hold the ICE and iGB brands in such high esteem and to leave ExCeL London in a positive, confident mood, equipped with all of the ideas, energy and determination to put the last two years behind them and plan for a prosperous future.
You probably have travelled around the world, but let’s focus on the UK. What places of this beautiful country would you recommend gaming executives to visit in terms of landscapes, gastronomy, culture, the kindness of its people and its main general attractions?
When we undertook market research with ICE visitors about their perception of London as our host city, a large proportion spoke about its appeal from a tourism perspective. While there are many beautiful places to visit in the British Isles –including Scotland, Wales and Ireland–, I believe that London is one of the leading capital cities in the world. British food has changed dramatically and London boasts restaurants serving 66 international cuisines. It has 60 Michelin starred restaurants and there are some wonderful places to eat, such as the Darwin Brasserie on the 36th floor at the Sky Garden, which has fantastic views of the London sky line and its mix of historic and contemporary architecture. In general terms, London is a wonderful city to visit and enjoy.