As the year draws to a close, Andrew Bulloss, Head of Odgers Berndtson’s Global Gaming team shares his executive talent takeaways for 2022 for the igaming and gambling sector..
2022 has been another rollercoaster year for the igaming sector and therefore for our practice. After 2021, which despite the challenges of COVID, was the busiest year our gaming practice has seen in its 12-year history, we expected our search volumes to be reduced, especially with so much economic and political uncertainty.
Whilst 2022 hasn’t hit the heady heights of 2021 from a business perspective, we are delighted with the way things have played out for our gaming practice including adding a number of new clients to our roster and new members to our team.
We thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of the executive and board hiring trends we have seen during 2022;
- During COVID, a large portion of our hires across the board focused on product and technology appointments. Private Equity backed companies kept us busy with further C-level hires. Post-COVID, the demand centered around CEOs, board advisors and NEDs as well as senior marketing appointments – these latter themes have continued throughout the second half of 2022
- Demand for COOs and senior operations execs remains high in our sector as businesses look to find efficiencies in process, integrate M&A deals more seamlessly and build appropriate scale into their business as they add on new customers products and markets.
- The last 6 months has seen a significant spike in demand for senior hires in the US, most notably with affiliates. More US employers are starting to understand the benefit of European igaming experts.
- 2022 has seen more founder CEO succession projects as well as first-time CEO hires in growth stage (series C+) businesses than ever before. Indicative of a number of innovative new businesses entering the market in the content and platform space as well as investors and founders appreciating the need for a CEO with a fresh perspective to help their business scale.
- Remote working has still not become a big theme. 2-3 days is the norm for most employers and certainly for a CEO or C-level role, the need to be visible in the office for at least 3 days a week in the short-term is being driven by the board of the hiring organization AND the prospective candidates who want to ‘lead’ their new team.
- We have held numerous conversations this year about content-led marketing strategies to drive acquisition as well as building a broader entertainment experience (including free-to-play games) to attract a younger and/or more recreational audience. Customer acquisition costs remain high so the need to keep players in the ‘ecosystem’ through engaging experiences is becoming more important than ever. This theme is also partly driven by regulatory obligations in certain markets where promotions and bonusing activity is limited. This will impact CEO, commercial and marketing and product hires throughout 2023.
- At board level and across executive teams, more diverse appointments are needed - not enough employers in our sector see this as important, they should and the ones that do will win. Purpose-led vision and sustainability have made it onto the board agenda of the bigger (often plc) businesses in our sector, but the industry lags behind other sectors in these two areas.
- Private equity continues to drive many of our search projects – finding board advisors to represent the interests of the PE firms into their gaming assets and/or c-level appointments within PE-backed igaming companies. This has been a trend for the last 3 years and we do not see it disappearing in 2023.
Our client base remains highly international – we supported key board and leadership hires for clients in over 20 countries this year alone.
If you would like to discuss any of the trends mentioned in this article, or to find out more about how our Sports, Gaming and Media Practice can help you in 2023, please contact Andrew Bulloss, get in touch with us here or find your local Odgers Berndtson contact here.
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