iGF RoundTable with Betbazar: C-suite under 40

betbazar, ceo, igaming

Lessons in Success Profiling iGaming’s Young Leaders

As the iGaming industry continues to thrive, giving birth to a growing pool of great new gaming companies, we are also witnessing the efflorescence of a new and successful band of young professionals and entrepreneurs who are now spearheading the industry, helping our business reach impressive high levels of growth.

To get a better understanding of who these ambitious young leaders really are–and what they see for the future–we caught up with a serious selection of some of the foremost CEO’s and Senior Decision Makers in the industry.

In this three-part iGF RoundTable series, we charted their path to the C-suite, and heard about the challenges they faced on their journey to the top.

We were privileged to be given insight into the biggest moments in their stellar careers to date – and learn what they learned from these key passages of professional play.

Most importantly, for you our loyal readers, we are here able to spotlight the advice and guidance that our RoundTable panel of experts are happy to share with other young, ambitious executives, as they begin the climb to the top; to help push iGaming ever forward.

With the participation of:

Alex Lorimer, Chief Operating Officer, Gaming Corps

Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Chief Commercial Officer, Spribe

Alina Dandörfer, Co-founder and Director, Apparat Gaming

Troy Paul, Chief Executive Officer, SGG Media

David Mann, Chief Executive Officer, Swintt

Alex Iaroshenko, Chief Executive Officer, BETBAZAR

Chris Scicluna, CEO at Livespins

Can you give a brief resumé of your career journey to the C-suite?

Alex Lorimer: “I joined Gaming Corps as Head of Business Development to help drive the customer base but also tie into the product. I joined at a time when the company had recently transitioned from Gaming to iGaming.

“In my previous role at iSoftBet, I was primarily a Team Leader for the account management team but I always found myself venturing into every aspect of the company’s day-to-day running; be it sales, product, marketing, data, finance, compliance, tech support, et cetera.

“I tried my hand at most things and prided myself on having as wide a knowledge base of the entire company’s operation as possible. This led to me moving to assist with pre-sales, given my ability to cover all aspects of the company and answer almost anything a potential customer might want to know.

“With Gaming Corps being a small start-up, it was a risk to give someone so young and inexperienced–at least in senior management norms– responsibility for the day-to-day running of the company.

“However, I do genuinely believe there aren’t many people who would have had as broad a knowledge of how every aspect of an iGaming business works. But given the journey we’ve been on over the last three years, that lack of experience and naivety has taken me down an alternative route that has ultimately driven a large amount of success.

“I must say this is only because of the wonderful team we have built and the confidence and backing that I had, in particular from the CEO Juha Kauppinen and the CBDO Bulent Balikci.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “My journey to the C-suite–I am Chief Commercial Officer at SPRIBE, the developer behind the world’s number one crash game, Aviator–has been a fun and rewarding one. I am a proud graduate of the Harvard Business School and throughout my career have held key senior roles at prestigious companies such as BetConstruct, VBet and Adjarabet.

“Alongside my corporate roles, I have embraced entrepreneurship, founding and leading HawX, a CRM company focused on the online gambling industry. HawX is on a mission to elevate online casino brands by enhancing acquisition and retention strategies.

“I have also gained experience outside of the gambling industry, founding Eruditu, an innovative online e-learning platform. Eruditu serves as a space where individuals can engage in courses, or share their expertise by uploading courses.

“This dual role as an entrepreneur and corporate leader has given me a diverse skill set and a deep understanding of the different aspects that make a business run and be successful. It is this unique combination that has fast-tracked me into the C-Suite at SPRIBE.

“My business acumen and expertise have led to invitations to lecture at prestigious universities in Georgia, including the Caucasus University at the Caucasus School of Business and the Business Technology University. In these academic settings, I share insights on business and leadership to inspire the next generation of young leaders.”

Alina Dandörfer: “I completed my studies in International Relations and then travelled the world a bit, before joining German land-based gambling and entertainment giant, SCHMIDT Gruppe.

“I began as a project manager and my work with software developers would form a great foundation for every step I took after that.

“A few years later I was offered a position at Bally Wulff, the third biggest gambling machine manufacturer in Germany, and seized it with both hands.

“Over the following six years, I held several positions across organisational development, staffing, and project management.

“My appetite for learning saw me become involved in a range of projects within the organisation, especially from a management and financial perspective. It was during those days, towards the end of my time at Bally Wulff, that I was asked by someone to support their efforts to start a business – a totally new challenge that came knocking on my door.

“This side project stimulated my desire for a career change, and so I almost left the iGaming industry. I was offered a leading position at a start-up in a different sector, with the task of building it up from scratch. I’d even got a start date and a contract in hand.

“But at the same time, the idea that had been lingering in the minds of the founding team to launch Apparat Gaming finally matured and became a reality. So, I decided to go all-in and embarked on the adventure of running my own company, which was the genesis of Apparat Gaming.”

Troy Paul: “My journey started with the launch of SGG Media in 2020. Having just graduated from NYU university, I began to work with my father to launch our social media micro-influencer-focused company. We saw a huge opportunity in the market and, with our combined experience and skills, realised we were in an excellent position to take advantage of it.

“The social media/content industry is one of the few where youth lends itself as an advantage in terms of credibility. It is also one of the few industries where younger people are, in some ways, more experienced than their senior counterparts.

“I took the role of President in the early days before shifting into the role of CEO in early 2022. Having built the company from the ground up, it seemed like a natural transition. As I was an expert in both operations and sales of our company.”

David Mann: “I’d had almost a decade’s experience working in the wider industry before I came to Swintt and in that time I’d mostly specialised in developing early-stage growth for providers and helping B2B start-ups within the iGaming industry.

“I arrived at Swintt as a Business Development Director, and within two-years I’d taken over the role of Chief Commercial Officer.

“During my time in the latter role, I benefited tremendously from the experience and guidance of David Flynn ( NB, a bit more on him later) and that ultimately provided me with the tools I needed to take the next step as CEO. It was a journey that was not without its challenges, but I’m glad it led me to where I am today.”

Alex Iaroshenko: “Some people would call it “fate”, while others would say random chance, but I was first introduced to the industry around 13-years-ago by friends who were already in the iGaming business.

“Back then, they said that it might be an interesting sphere with a lot of potential to develop across the globe, so naturally I was curious to learn more. As it happened, they ended up recommending me as a young specialist to one of the biggest providers in the world: a company then called Betgenius, who are now Genius Sports. And I started to work for them as a business development manager for the CIS region.

“The role included lots of travel, lots of meetings with people and lots of negotiations, and it wasn’t long before I realised this is what makes the industry work. After a while, the partners saw there was a niche in “fast games” that had a lot of potential going forward, so that’s where we focused and where we had a lot of success.

“Part of the deal was that each partner would specialise in what they were best at, and for me that was business development. That’s how BETBAZAR came to be created and this is what we do as a marketplace. We secure deals, we find partners and we help people enter the industry smoothly and successfully.”

Chris Scicluna: “Reflecting on my career journey to the C-suite, it’s been a path marked by a deep engagement with product development in the iGaming industry. About 15-years-ago, I started as a product designer, where I first discovered my passion for creating innovative gaming experiences. The role was a springboard that led me to a significant position at Mr Green, a renowned operator. From there, I led the mobile team and was instrumental in driving exponential growth of our mobile product in just six-months. This experience was pivotal in shaping my understanding of user-centric product design and market trends.

“Following my time at Mr Green, I joined Casumo, an emerging Nordic operator known for its dynamic approach to the iGaming sector. At Casumo, I oversaw the company’s product and gamification strategy. My role was then expanded to leading the entire product team as the Head of Product. This position allowed me to hone my leadership skills and deepen my expertise in product lifecycle management, ensuring that all products delivered met our high standards and market expectations.

“After a fulfilling period at Casumo, I transitioned to HPYHR as the Chief Product Officer, where I was able to leverage my experience in product development and strategy. This role gave me the opportunity to significantly contribute to the growth of some of the best operator brands in the industry, including what is now known as Livespins.

“Livespins, in particular, captured my attention due to its immense potential and how it had been received by the industry.

“Recognising its growth prospects and being part of its inception from the start, I took on the role of CEO, guiding Livespins from an early startup to an up and coming B2B business in the iGaming space.

“As CEO, my focus has been on maintaining a strong product-centric approach within the organisation, ensuring that we continue to innovate and lead in our sector.”

Landing the role at such a young age is a major achievement. What do you think has been the key factor?

Troy Paul: “I believe it’s always important to keep learning, no matter how old you are. Mentorship has been a crucial part of my growth in my role as CEO. Ensuring I stay open to ideas, learn from those around me, and, when necessary, accept criticism has helped me climb the ladder quickly, but there is still so much to learn.

“I am lucky to have an excellent team of advisors around me that has contributed to my continued growth. My desire to be at the top of this industry, combined with my willingness to learn from those who have been there and done it, is the reason I am in the position I am in today.

“I also think it is vital to surround yourself with people that share your vision and who you can trust. As a young entrepreneur, you will need to be able to trust the people giving you advice and know that you are all there to support one another through whatever challenges appear.”

Chris Scicluna: “Landing a CEO role at a relatively young age in the competitive iGaming industry is indeed a significant achievement, one that I attribute to a number of different factors. Among these is my resilient approach to leadership. Resilience has been crucial in navigating the challenges and rapidly changing dynamics characteristic of this industry. It has enabled me to push boundaries, recover from setbacks, and continually drive towards innovation and excellence.

“Equally important has been my deep product knowledge. Having spent years in various roles centred around product development and strategy, I’ve gained an in-depth understanding of what makes a product successful in the iGaming market. This knowledge has been vital in making informed decisions, anticipating market trends, and steering our products towards fulfilling user needs and preferences.

“However, what truly sets me apart is my constant curiosity about the industry. A mindset of ongoing learning and exploration is essential in a field as dynamic as iGaming. This curiosity drives me to stay abreast of emerging technologies, evolving consumer behaviours, and new market opportunities. It has been the catalyst for innovation and continuous improvement in my work.

“Lastly, approaching everything with humbleness and curiosity has been fundamental. Humility in leadership has allowed me to embrace new ideas, learn from others, and foster a collaborative and inclusive work culture.

“This approach not only enriches my own understanding, but also empowers those around me to flourish, creating a synergistic environment where collective efforts translate into outstanding results.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “For me, it has come down to a combination of key factors centred around my leadership character, erudition and extensive experience. I can lead effectively and this, coupled with my commitment to keep learning, has allowed me to progress quickly and achieve major career milestones at a young age.

“By drawing on the wealth of experience I have gained in the various senior roles held and entrepreneurial activities undertaken, I have developed the skills and insights needed for success in the highly competitive online gambling industry and this has made me a valuable asset to companies such as SPRIBE.”

Alex Iaroshenko: “I would always say that the most important thing for me was surrounding myself with the right people, that is to say: Building a strong team of like-minded individuals and learning how to motivate them to work for the good of the business. With the help of a good team, everything happens much faster and I would never have achieved what I have today without their support, professionalism and personal skills.

“A key part of this is obviously having clear communication and understanding how things happen–not just internally but externally as well–and this comes from talking to other people in the industry, visiting them and putting attention into their businesses as well. Of course for others it might be that they started out with a game-changing product that shook the foundations of the industry, but for us it was simply taking a slightly different approach to many of the basic things.

“We did find a new product and a niche that made us successful, but our idea wasn’t unique in itself. It already existed in a few markets. But in our case it was the team we put together that made it work.”

Alina Dandörfer: “You could say I took a slight shortcut by stepping into the role of an entrepreneur for the company I co-founded.  

“Was I qualified for the role? Did I have doubts and fears? Sure, these thoughts popped up in my mind. But my co-founders entrusted me with the responsibility, so I rolled up my sleeves and set out on an exciting new adventure.  

“In my previous roles I’d assumed responsibility for a variety of projects, reorganised work processes, taken on management responsibility for a team, supervised project cost reports and contributed to the development and implementation of the corporate strategy.  

“Leveraging these experiences, along with a genuine curiosity and a strong desire to explore and learn, proved to be crucial factors.”

Alex Lorimer: “The key aspect of how I’ve driven the high-level strategy and growth was the relationships I made previously from being an account manager.

“As an AM I always went the extra mile for everyone, no matter the size of their business and many of those people have repaid the favour. There’s been a willingness to work closely with us to understand the climate of the market and the players, which has helped to drive a product focused on the operator and the players’ needs, rather than me having to guess and hope.”

David Mann: “Not having been born earlier was definitely a big help! But seriously, there have been a few factors that have helped me on my career journey to C-suite. Of course, there’s the regular dumb luck of simply being in the right place at the right time and having it pay off for you, but of more concrete value has been the great mentorship I’ve had along the way.

“This goes right up to my time at Swintt, where I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked under David Flynn before taking over my current role as CEO. I really appreciated his guidance, patience, and the trust he shows for those he works with, and that has been a huge part in my Swintt career playing out the way it has.”

What standout challenges have you encountered along the way? And how were they overcome?

Chris Scicluna: “In my leadership journey, facing scepticism was a major challenge. Persistence and demonstrating results were key to converting that feeling of doubt into support.

“Striking a work-life balance has also demanded attention.

“Establishing boundaries and effective time management were crucial to juggling professional and personal responsibilities.

“Prioritising mental health has also been essential. In the demanding world of leadership, mental resilience is as important as physical health. Regular self-care practices have been vital to maintain this balance.

“These challenges have not only tested me but have also strengthened my leadership, teaching me the value of resilience, balance, and mental well-being.”

David Mann: “While my background in business development and sales made progressing to Chief Commercial Officer at Swintt quite linear, the step up to CEO was a big change for me.

“Moving from CCO to CEO requires a shift in mindset and focus, as all areas of the business need to have an equal footing, and this requires more involvement, understanding and support from the team.

“Thankfully, I already had a great relationship with my colleagues and a deep understanding of the company from my time at Swintt. I’d already played a big part in forming the culture and defining our business strategy. And this gave me a major head start over some of the external candidates.”

Alex Iaroshenko: “I don’t want to sound like I’m repeating myself, but getting the right configuration for our team really was an important challenge that we really needed to get right straight off the bat.

“I think 15-20 different people passed through BETBAZAR before we settled on the team we now have, as we were trying to find the proper communication model and people who all shared the same values.

“These days, we’re all connected by these values, and I think that’s one of the biggest challenges you have to overcome initially. It’s funny, because it might be a bit of an abstract concept. I wouldn’t say that we had problems with development or anything like that, but when you understand what you’re aiming for in the long-term with your team and your clients–not just in terms of money, but in terms of building relationships and developing something that lasts–, this makes your growth faster and easier.”

Troy Paul: “Like any young person entering an industry in their 20’s, I had to first establish a level of credibility. There were plenty of occasions, and there still are, where I’m negotiating with people twice my age who are vastly more experienced. At first, this seemed overwhelming, but I quickly realised that my age wasn’t relevant — but my product was.

“My background was not in sports betting, so this presented some challenges; but in the long run, it has been a huge blessing. Remaining grounded throughout those early years, learning from those around me, but also not being afraid to take on a challenge and not letting my age be an issue, has helped me mature into the role within the company.

“Of course, as a younger CEO working in social media, my age actually comes with some major advantages. I’m a digital native and have probably spent a lot more time on social media than most of the Legacy Executives I’ve met over the years.”

Alina Dandörfer: “The primary hurdle in managing a start-up is consistently navigating survival mode. Securing funding, assembling a team, validating the product in the market, scaling operations, assessing outcomes, and adjusting strategies are universal steps for any company.

“However, start-ups, such as Apparat Gaming, face the additional challenge of proving themselves against established competitors in a highly competitive, highly dynamic and, in particular, a partially unclear regulatory environment in the market.

“You must be able to scrutinise every decision so that it can be adjusted, if necessary. The entrepreneurial practices that were successful yesterday might not be the best option today.  

“Navigating this terrain is like finding a safe path on a waterlogged field. Each step needs thoughtful consideration and fast implementation.

“This constant scrutiny can be draining, emphasising the need for a team which questions variables, embraces criticism, fosters a culture of learning, and engages in constructive debates.  

“It’s vital to introduce an incremental approach in this phase of your business. It’s also really important to identify crucial survival variables, stay vigilant in the dynamic environment, and maintain adaptability.

“A company will be fit and healthy if it’s prepared for all kinds of diverse scenarios, and if it has established a buffer to navigate unforeseen challenges.  One of the biggest challenges for me was instilling a company-wide understanding of this approach and getting all processes and decisions to align with it.”

Alex Lorimer: “The biggest challenge has been doing this with an inexperienced team led by an inexperienced Chief Operating Officer.

“We have now added more talent that brings its own experience. But, particularly at the start, it was very much a case of learning through mistakes. Every day brings its challenges, and I’ve been lucky enough to have surrounded myself with a senior management team that is just as hungry and ambitious as myself, which has been key to bridging that gap.

“We pride ourselves as a company on having always been agile, and even where we have fallen short on some occasions, we have always had this ability to pounce on opportunities that are brought to us and make it happen when others could not. A lot of our biggest products were born out of opportunities brought to me through people I had great relationships with as an account manager in the past.

“It will be difficult to remain as flexible as we grow, but we build all our products and tech in a way that if a customer brings an opportunity, or wants branding or a reskin, it’s a minimal amount of work to create a premium product that they will push.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “The greatest challenge has been the dynamic nature of the online gambling industry and the magnitude and speed at which the landscape changes. This requires individuals and companies to be agile and flexible and to keep pace with the latest trends. Of course, the best companies set the trends that others follow, and that is what SPRIBE has achieved with Aviator.

“For me, it all comes down to fostering a culture of adaptability within the team and within myself, as this ensures we are always ready to navigate and leverage unexpected changes. This includes regularly updating our strategies, embracing new technologies, and proactively seeking opportunities when there is even the slightest shift.

“The ability to swiftly pivot and adjust our approach has proven to be essential in overcoming hurdles and ensuring sustained success in a fast-evolving environment, and the C-suite is ultimately what fosters this environment and ability within the organisation.”

What has been the most significant moment in your career to date? What did you learn from this moment?

Alex Iaroshenko: “I think the defining moment in BETBAZAR’s history was how we dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a challenging period for us, but one in which we grew immensely. I know there are a couple of companies who also experienced similar success during this time, but many more of them had a lot of losses.

“I think the main thing I learned from the experience was the importance of being prepared for the unknown and doing your work beforehand. We already had a popular product, but we had to ensure it was delivered to each client on time at the moment that they needed it the most, and this was only possible because we were already having negotiations and conversations beforehand. It was an interesting experience and one that I come back to a lot.

“Another thing I learnt during this period was the importance of not putting your work onto a potential partner’s shoulders. People in our industry are very busy at the best of times, so when there’s other stuff going on in the world, it’s vital that you do your research, understand exactly what products of yours should be interesting to them and come prepared with a ready-made decision, rather than asking them to figure it out for themselves.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “There are many projects that I am incredibly proud of since joining SPRIBE, including our recent partnership with the UFC and champion fighter, Alex Pereira. We’ve also got a new product set to leave our production line in the coming weeks that I believe will be an absolute game-changer for the industry.

“Outside of landing the Chief Commercial Officer role at SPRIBE, the most significant moment in my career has undoubtedly been launching my businesses, as nothing quite beats the thrill of entrepreneurship.”

David Mann: “I find it hard to pinpoint one single significant moment, but I do like to reflect and take learnings from what I’ve done, or been involved with. Of course, I could say joining Swintt was a significant moment as it ultimately led to me being where I am today, but it’s a vast point encompassing so many important events.

“One big moment for Swintt as a company has been setting up a new platform and migrating – a task that’s universally known to be a major project. Going through the development, testing and upgrading of platform elements is packed with lessons, and it taught me to focus on the bigger picture during challenges and ensure the team’s vision stays aligned.”

Alex Lorimer: “The day an operator, for whom I was previously an account manager, came to me in early 2021 and asked if we could build them a crash game. In reality, Gaming Corps did not have a desirable product at that point; we had six very average slot games built by a very inexperienced team which were available in only a couple of markets.

“But we were still able to turn a complex product around in a matter of months from scratch, and despite the lack of experience, this showed several key operators that if they wanted something a bit different, we had a team which could deliver quality in a very short space of time.

“It was a bit of a domino effect from there, with opportunity after opportunity falling into line as we established our games with several market leaders, taking unique content into markets that hadn’t seen it before and, subsequently, many of the rest of the herd followed.

“The biggest lesson I drew from this story is that, both in a personal and professional capacity, you should treat everyone as best you can and help people as much as possible because opportunities can sometimes present themselves if you are good to people.”

Alina Dandörfer: “Adversity is inevitable, with each stumble and fall, especially the first, leaving its mark. Encountering various firsts–be it failed presentations, missed KPIs, or redundancy interviews– is part of the journey. Ultimately, the goal is to emerge from these experiences stronger, knowing that every effort was given to the best of one’s knowledge and belief and that every challenge is an opportunity to grow.”

Chris Scicluna: “There have been a number of pivotal moments in my career. But if I had to choose just one, then launching the real-time tournaments and developing the Livespins brand stand out the most. These initiatives marked significant milestones in the industry and were both exceptionally well-received.

“The key takeaway from these experiences was the importance of putting the player first. Understanding what players truly want, even beyond what they explicitly say, is crucial. It’s about feeling the pulse of the market and reading between the lines to grasp their needs and preferences. Then, you need to take that understanding and move forward with conviction to create something that resonates with them.

“These moments taught me that success in this industry isn’t just about innovative ideas or technical prowess; it’s deeply rooted in empathy and insight into the player’s experience. This player-centric approach has become a guiding principle in my career and has heavily influenced how I lead and make decisions.”

Troy Paul: “We’ve had many significant moments at SGG Media over the last few years, but the most memorable for me was securing our first client, FanDuel. As an entrepreneur, you must have a blind belief in yourself in the early days, and securing a deal with such a major client was a huge moment for us. And it was one that reaffirmed the belief we had in ourselves from the start.

“This deal gave us the confidence to move forward, paving the way for all of the other memorable moments that followed. On an entrepreneurial level and a personal one, that will always be a special moment for me.”

What is the biggest pressure that comes with your job?

Alex Lorimer: “I am slowly removing myself from roles that, in reality, should be held by a highly qualified person, but that’s just part and parcel of the startup life. There have been times when I’ve been jumping across seven or eight roles in a day, all requiring a high level of attention and expertise.

“So I’ve had to learn on my feet and try to operate at the level required, despite the knowledge gap. But as much stress and pressure as that has been, you learn and grow and become better each day for it.

“I and a couple of other senior members have had to operate at 110 percent for quite a long time; but you must be willing to put in the effort to break through in this industry, and the hope is that it will be worthwhile and rewarding in the long run.

“Either way, whatever the future holds for us, I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved thus far as a team, given the little experience we shared at the start of this adventure.”

Alina Dandörfer: “I dare to claim that the most significant pressure often comes from within. Balancing business goals, investor expectations, employee responsibilities, and personal demands can create a substantial burden. Discovering a healthy and efficient coping mechanism is liberating, allowing for a clear mind with which to address market challenges more effectively.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “The need to constantly stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing market. This is a dynamic industry where regulatory changes, technological advancements and shifts in consumer preferences are happening all the time. If you rest, you rust, and this means that I have to play my part in ensuring that SPRIBE is in the driving seat to adapt and change course where necessary.

“The devil is in the details here, and that’s why we spend so much time tweaking our strategies and product roadmaps to ensure they are effective and compliant and allow us to capitalise on the opportunities in front of us, despite the constantly-evolving landscape.”

Alex Iaroshenko: “I think one of them is ensuring that my team has the tools and resources available for them to handle any situation that comes their way. In an ideal world, any team should be able to manage their domain by themselves, so if I’m having to have some kind of involvement, I have to look at myself because I obviously haven’t ensured people were properly prepared, or knew how to act in specific scenarios.

“Of course, there’s also pressure when it comes to managing relationships with difficult clients or difficult partners, but I think that’s something that every business has to go through as they grow.

“Finally, the ongoing situation in the world is also a continuous source of pressure, and for BETBAZAR as well.

“Some parts of our team are based in areas close to war, and we constantly have situations where we need to manage and help our people. In these cases, I always feel pressure to ensure everyone is safe and that the team is ready to do what they need to do.”

Chris Scicluna: “The biggest pressure, I believe, is maintaining an unwavering belief in our mission and vision. Leadership, particularly at the executive level, demands a deep and resolute conviction in what we are doing. This belief is not just a personal mantra; it is the cornerstone of inspiring and mobilising an entire organisation towards a common goal. The challenge lies in consistently nurturing and reinforcing this belief, even amidst uncertainties and fluctuations that are inherent in any business.

“At times, the most significant hurdle can be an internal one: Managing that ‘cheeky voice’ of self-doubt or scepticism about the company’s direction. It’s a natural human tendency to question and doubt, But as a leader, it becomes crucial to recognise these moments and address them constructively. This involves a blend of introspection, seeking external perspectives, and revisiting the core values and goals that define our organisation.

“The responsibility of ensuring that the belief in our company’s vision remains strong across all levels is immense. It’s about leading by example, demonstrating commitment; enthusiasm; and confidence in our strategies. This doesn’t mean disregarding concerns or potential pitfalls; rather, it involves balancing realism with optimism, being transparent about challenges and showing a clear path forward.

“In essence, the pressure is in being the ultimate believer and the principal architect-of-confidence in our company’s vision. Successfully managing this not only propels the company forward but also fosters a culture of trust, unity and shared ambition.”

David Mann: “‘With great power comes great responsibility’ is a phrase that immediately springs to mind! I may or may not have superpowers like Spiderman, but I do have responsibility for the company. A lot of great people work at Swintt and rely on the business for their salary each month, so it’s a major responsibility of mine to ensure that we continue to grow and flourish while keeping our people paid and happy.

“This really is a culmination of everything the role demands wrapped into one, but that’s the pressure that you have to carry on your shoulders when you make it to the CEO level. I think bearing the responsibility and being conscious of it is both important and humbling.”

Troy Paul: “The biggest responsibilities are taking care of our staff and keeping our shareholders happy. Both of these bring an equal amount of pressure. In this position, you realise that the role is much bigger than just you and that other people are dependent on your performance and management.

“Fortunately, I revel in these challenges, and I love being able to take the company to new levels. I always say that a CEO goes through nine lifetimes in a week, but by trusting my mentors and those around me, I’m always ready to navigate any issues I might face and yield the results we are all looking for.”

What advice would you give to other young executives with their eyes on the C-suite?

David Mann: “I think the first thing is to consider the differences in your current role and what it provides for you today. There’s a real drive and hunger from people to move up as fast as possible and “reach the top”. But quicker is not necessarily better.

“Your role changes as you become involved in higher-level strategy, and you take on more people management and process-setting responsibilities. It’s important, then, to have the experience to be able to deliver at that point. On top of that, the necessity and expectation of going “above and beyond” is often there, and not everyone has the freedom or life situation to be able to work longer hours and give up free time when it’s required.

“With the topic of the article being “CEOs under 40”, I just want to point out that despite the grey hair, I do actually qualify! There’s a famous quote from Sir Matt Busby that comes to mind – ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’. Always remember that you are where you are for a reason; there will be ups and downs, but enjoy the ride and don’t lose sight of your achievements.”

Alex Lorimer: “Always look under the hood! When I was an account manager, I always asked “why?” or looked deeper into anything that sat outside my remit, as the next time a similar issue appeared, I wanted to be able to deal with it then and there.

“This helped me gain a lot of respect from both my colleagues and partners and led to many involving me within their departments, as I understood what they were doing and was able to offer an alternative angle, coming from a more commercial perspective.

“Without that attitude and learning gained at the start of my career, it would have been impossible for me to have led this company to where it is today. But I will always say it was a team effort as I could not have done it without some incredible people alongside me, who I am incredibly lucky to call both colleagues and friends.

“Be good to people, and they will, in turn, be good to you. That attitude opens so many doors and opportunities. Work hard, soak it all in and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just make sure if you do, you learn the lessons and grow through the experience.

“A final note I cannot reiterate enough is how lucky I am to be surrounded by such an amazingly talented, hard-working group. Make sure no matter how high the pressure and stress levels are, you don’t forget to take the time to communicate and thank those around you, as they are the ones you will really need in the hardest times. And, of course, try to enjoy it!”

Alex Iaroshenko: “I’m now envisioning little CEOs looking at me and asking for advice, but it’s hard to know where to start! There are so many things in life that you need to do, and it depends on your own personal circumstances, so you can’t just take one important point. Looking back on my personal story, I’d have to say that how you meet people and build relationships is the most important thing.

“In our industry, you’ll always be going to conferences and after-show events where you’ll meet a lot of people. Sometimes you’re going to be tired, or you’re not going to want to go to a noisy place with lots of new faces, but you need to remember that one sleepless night could be worth one contact in your phone that will make the difference by helping you close a deal or find a new opportunity.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a few great mentors in the industry, who were CEOs at other companies, and if I hadn’t approached them in a friendly manner at events like these, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. They were the ones who told me: ‘You’ve been here a long time, you have the knowledge, you have the experience; this is the moment to stop working for someone else and start your own project.’”

Troy Paul: “Two things that I think any young executives starting out need to have are confidence and the ability to listen. Firstly, you have to believe in your own product, even when more seasoned executives don’t. If you don’t have full faith in your product or service, how can you expect anyone else to? It will become very apparent if you don’t believe in yourself because you will face regular challenges, especially in the early stages.

“Secondly, it is important to listen. I’m still only 26 years old, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am in if I wasn’t willing to listen to other people and their ideas. Taking advice from those who have been in the game a lot longer than you is one of the best things you can do. I hope that my work can continue to inspire the next group of young executives. I’m always happy to touch base and provide advice for any young entrepreneurs looking to start a business.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “It’s important to develop a strong leadership character as ultimately being in the C-suite means being a leader. They also need to stay well-informed about the industry and the latest trends that are emerging and gain extensive experience across all areas of business.

“Flexibility and adaptability are important given just how quickly and significantly things change in this industry. I’d also recommend cultivating a network of industry contacts and mentors who can provide valuable insights and support.

“I always encourage young executives to be proactive in seeking learning opportunities, whether through formal education, industry events or networking.
“Continuous learning is essential, especially in an industry that is always changing. Taking calculated risks and being willing to step outside of your comfort zone can really turbo-charge your career, too.

“Finally, it’s important to build a reputation for integrity and ethical conduct, especially given that this is the gambling industry and the scrutiny this attracts. Establishing trust with stakeholders, including customers, regulators and business partners, is also a must and will ultimately prove to be the foundation of long-term success in terms of reaching the C-suite.”

Alina Dandörfer: “Life’s decisions are so intimate, influenced by a multitude of factors beyond the surface. So, I refrain from giving advice. However, what I will say is that I believe all good things begin with self-awareness. You must understand your strengths and identify areas where you need to improve your knowledge.

“Embracing a new role, especially when it signifies another step on the career ladder, is an adventure that cannot be entirely anticipated, so remain open and inquisitive. And embrace learning. Build a support system that extends beyond a broad network. Foster strong, authentic connections that will provide sustained support throughout your journey. Finally, recall the initial motivation that led you to pursue your career advancement in the first instance.

“Remember, you are not alone in this. In today’s complex and uncertain business landscape, organisations need a cohesive team of skilled people capable of addressing intricate leadership challenges posed by dynamic markets, disruptive technologies, and evolving customer preferences. That’s why establishing a high-performing team becomes imperative for C-suite leaders to achieve success.

“Good teams unlock individuals’ potential by complementing their strengths and weaknesses. They offer diverse ideas, perspectives, and resources, enabling better decision-making and yielding successful outcomes for both individuals and the team itself.

“C-suite leaders can cultivate a trusted team of high-achieving people by prioritising open communication, fostering a culture of collaboration, and recognising and leveraging individual strengths. Encouraging continuous learning and providing opportunities for professional growth among your company’s people can further enhance their team’s dynamics. Ultimately, this will contribute to everyone’s overall success, whether it’s for individuals or across the company as a whole.”

Chris Scicluna: “For young executives setting their sights on the C-suite, my advice is multifaceted, grounded in both personal experience and broader observations from my journey.

“Firstly, cultivate an enduring sense of curiosity. Approach each day with a mindset that is open to learning and discovery, not just within your professional domain but in life generally. This attitude fuels innovation, drives personal growth and keeps you agile in an ever-evolving business landscape.

“Secondly, do not be disheartened by setbacks. In the trajectory towards senior leadership, challenges and obstacles are not just inevitable but are valuable learning opportunities. Embrace them as part of your journey. Each setback is a chance to build resilience, adaptability and fortitude; all qualities that are indispensable for a successful leader.

“Third, resilience is key. The path to the C-suite is rarely linear or smooth. There will be moments of doubt, high-pressure situations, and tough decisions. Maintaining resilience through these times is crucial. It’s about having the tenacity to persevere, the flexibility to pivot when necessary, and the strength to uphold your vision even when the going gets tough.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, seek mentorship.

“Identify a few different mentors within the industry who have navigated the path that you aspire to tread. These individuals can offer invaluable insights, guidance, and different perspectives based on their experiences. They can act as great sounding boards, advisors, and sometimes challengers to your ideas. The wisdom gained from such relationships can be a significant catalyst in your journey to the C-suite."

Editor’s Note:

During the discussion, our participants shared valuable and candid insights. They emphasised the importance of having an open attitude towards learning, embracing setbacks, building strong networks – and, crucially, trusting the team.

They also explained that a week in the C-suite life is equivalent to “nine lifetimes”, so it’s essential to appreciate the journey on the way up. And don’t forget that Troy Paul invited up-and-coming young executives to talk business.

Perhaps wrapping-up is best done in the words of Alina:

“Remember, you are not alone in this… organisations need a cohesive team of skilled people capable of addressing intricate leadership challenges posed by dynamic markets, disruptive technologies, and evolving customer preferences.

“C-suite leaders can cultivate a trusted team of high-achieving people by prioritising open communication, fostering a culture of collaboration, and recognising and leveraging individual strengths.”