Hero Gaming

Efforts to boost female representation at the workplace have been ongoing for decades, and, while the conversation about adding more women to the workforce in general is no longer as pronounced, efforts to bring more women into leadership roles still requires attention.

On this note, Hero Gaming’s Chief People Officer, Marie Theobald, highlights why it is so important to have diversity in leadership positions.

Having joined the company in January 2018, Ms Theobald points out that “diversity of thought and competency, and its impact on organisational success, is what makes gender parity and many other forms of diversity at leadership levels, so crucial.”

With progress still to be made in an industry which has been historically male dominated especially in leadership roles, putting the spotlight on gender parity in leadership remains key. Here, she remarks that: “it might feel as though women’s place in the world of work has become a given –but women still continue to face significant barriers to entry into leadership roles.”

Hero Gaming is an equal opportunities employer and embraces Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) recruitment methods; offering a fair and consistent process – always aiming to recruit the right person, with the right skills and expertise for each job. Marie Theobald explains how when looking at gender split as an example it is close to 50/50, yet when looking at leadership levels, the company’s data differs with the male – female split at 63/37.

Marie Theobald – Chief People Officer at Hero Gaming / Photo by Inigo Taylor

On this, Ms Theobald adds that the company is highly aware and actively addressing initiatives to boost diverse representation at leadership levels, consciously driving DEI initiatives.

“Closing this gap requires more than addressing unconscious bias and talking about gender diversity. Despite a few steps forward, women still continue to face significant barriers to entry into leadership roles.

“Mentorship, personal career development discussions, opening doors and giving opportunities for continuous learning and ongoing coaching, regardless of gender and regardless of whether they have children they need to take care of at home, a role which can and should be a split between both parents. These are initiatives that all play an important role in giving women the courage and confidence to take that next step.”

Ms Theobald adds that as women, “we also need to be each other’s ambassadors.”

“We need to praise each other, support one another, and also give each other the needed push to take the leap. We are proud to be able to share some stories of a few of the women who add incredible value to our business, in the hope of inspiring other women out there to take their next step.”

Women in leadership roles at Hero Gaming

Johanna Pyykonen, Head of Operations / Photo by Inigo Taylor

Johanna Pyykonen, Head of Operations

Johanna joined Hero in October 2015 as Head of Support and was promoted to Head of Operations in April 2022

Team leaders have various styles, ways of working and approaches to managing their people. What is your leadership style and how does it speak to your character?

These days I believe my leadership style is very much true to my character, direct and candid, but still empathetic and inclusive. It has not always been that way, and previously I tended to think more what behaviours are traditionally expected from the leader.

Over the years I have learned to embrace my own style and I no longer consider softer elements like empathy or showing vulnerability as a weakness. I have also put a lot of focus on my development as a leader and tried to learn from great colleagues around me. Today, I consider myself to be a fair and consistent leader, who strives in building relationships and teams.

Leadership teams within iGaming have in the past been male dominated. Does it still feel like this today and what do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb up the ranks?

Gaming is still very much a male product, so there is a natural tendency for this industry to attract males, especially on an investment/founder level. However, I can definitely see more females now in senior leadership positions compared to when I started my iGaming career, so definitely there has been a positive trend in this.

I wish I had a great answer as how to encourage more women to progress in iGaming, I honestly think that it comes down to many different factors. Companies need to have the culture where everyone believes that more inclusivity and different perspectives on the table bring better results and contribute to better places to work in. Female career success stories should be shared and get visibility, in order to encourage others to pursue higher positions. More female role models and mentors in the industry, more that will also encourage other females to go for it.

Sarah Stellini, Commercial Director – All Markets/ Photo by Inigo Taylor

Sarah Stellini, Commercial Director – All Markets

Sarah joined Hero Gaming in April 2022

Team leaders have various styles, ways of working and approaches to managing their people. What is your leadership style and how does it speak to your character?

I would say my leadership style is kind and firm. I believe that these two should not be mutually exclusive styles, but complimentary. I try to be as clear as possible in my communication and direction. I also believe in genuinely giving your team opportunities to grow in their role. Most importantly, if you build genuine relationships with your team, your leadership follows more naturally. 

Leadership teams within iGaming have in the past been male dominated. Does it still feel like this today and what do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb up the ranks?

It is most certainly improving and nice to see more female leaders in the industry. I do think however when it comes to C-level women are still very much under represented and more so women in commercial roles. 

Having recently joined Hero Gaming, why did you choose to join this organisation and what do you hope to bring to the table in your respective department?

I have been following Hero Gaming for a while and it has always been known to have a great culture, which to me is an extremely important element of any business. I also chose it for the leadership team who I believe in very much. I hope to bring more success to their already successful journey. I also hope to always lead by example and encourage more women to take on commercial roles. 

Anna-Christina Schnyder, Operations Manager – Experience Centre/ LinkedIn Photo

Anna-Christina Schnyder, Operations Manager – Experience Centre

Anna-Christina joined Hero Gaming in May 2020 as an Executive Assistant and was promoted to Operations Manager in April 2022

Team leaders have various styles, ways of working and approaches to managing their people. What is your leadership style and how does it speak to your character?

Coming from a sports background, where I have also worked as a coach, I can definitely see how I have had that approach in my professional life as well where I have mostly trained and led junior staff. It’s fulfilling to help with development and utilise each individual abilities to achieve full potential. I believe in giving appraisals, recognizing efforts and achievements to enhance motivation and also to lead by example.

Leadership teams within iGaming have in the past been male dominated. Does it still feel like this today and what do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb up the ranks?

Hero Gaming has managed well to achieve gender diversity and have many influential and excellent female leaders. Positively, like Hero Gaming, more and more companies today understand that it is crucial with a balanced workforce and that woman in leadership play an important role for the success of the business.

What is the reason that you keep choosing Hero Gaming? What achievements are you most proud of so far at Hero and what else do you hope to bring to the table in your respective department?

I joined Hero Gaming in 2020 right after COVID hit. Prior to that, I had been running my own business for many years within the travel industry. It was very exciting to enter the world of iGaming and to get the opportunity to learn and explore a totally new field. The people and the culture of the company are great and that is what has made me want to continue the journey with Hero.

Me Li, Regional Business Owner as Country Manager

Me joined Hero Gaming in October 2014

Team leaders have various styles, ways of working and approaches to managing their people. What is your leadership style and how does it speak to your character?

My leadership style is all about trust. I try to be as transparent as I can, set goals together with the team so everyone is committed to what we are heading for. I also try to be as available as possible so whoever needs help and support can come and vice versa. In this way, it’s natural to build a good relationship with each other.

Leadership teams within iGaming have in the past been male dominated. Does it still feel like this today and what do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb up the ranks?

I have been in this industry for about eight years, and there has been change in my opinion. There was some difficulty back then but now I feel like I am treated equally, and we have strong women as leaders, which is motivating others regardless of whether you are male or female.

What is the reason that you keep choosing Hero Gaming? What achievements are you most proud of so far at Hero and what else do you hope to bring to the table in your respective department?

The most important thing is people at Hero Gaming. The industry and business change all the time, and we all need to adapt, adjust, and act quickly. At Hero, we support each other in any situation and challenge each other as a team so that makes me keep choosing Hero Gaming.

Anastasiya Masalskaya, Quality Assurance Manager

Anastasiya Masalskaya, Quality Assurance Manager

Anastasiya joined Hero Gaming in September 2016

Team leaders have various styles, ways of working and approaches to managing their people. What is your leadership style and how does it speak to your character?

As a team leader, I always try to remember myself when I started and how I wanted to see my leader. I expected to be guided but with enough freedom, to be supported but with space for mistakes and to be a colleague but also a friend at the same time.

So, when I became a team leader, I tried to implement my past expectations in my way of working. The most important to have good relationships inside the team and with fellow teams, give enough space but also be always there when needed. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t have enough time, but I’m 10000 per cent sure that my team will do the work the best way!

Leadership teams within iGaming have in the past been male dominated. Does it still feel like this today and what do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb up the ranks?

When I just started in iGaming I had a feeling that it is mostly men there (maybe because I work in technical areas), but sometime after I started to notice that more and more females joined us. I think it is great! Women tend to have a different vision and maybe different ways of solving problems.

I would like to see more females joining the industry, joining different teams because I think it is really good that in a work environment you can get diverse opinions.

What is the reason that you keep choosing Hero Gaming? What achievements are you most proud of so far at Hero and what else do you hope to bring to the table in your respective department?

The main reason I keep choosing Hero Gaming is, for sure, people. You know, this feeling, when you come back to the office on Monday, and you want to know how your colleagues spent their weekend and share your news. I would say, it is more than colleagues, it is already family. We support each other not only on work related questions but also in private ones if needed.

I started to work at Hero around six years ago and I would say that the quality of all our products is much better, of course we still have space to improve, but I can say that my department has full control over the situation. I hope we will be able to improve even more and bring new people, new technologies and new ideas, likely I, as manager, have full independence to choose what I think will bring more value and improve the outcome.

***

While diversity of opinions and viewpoints adds depth to the conversation of how to bring more women into leadership roles, one common thread among interviewees is the need for mentorship and guidance for female workers climbing up the ranks.

Several of the women interviewed express this sentiment, and also communicated the wish to lead by example, thereby providing encouragement for more females to take on commercial roles in senior positions. The trend appears to be moving in the right direction, with most of the Heroes stating they see more and more women in senior roles, and, as we continue to highlight their stories, the hope is to encourage more females to achieve their goals.

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