Lee-Ann Johnstone – The importance of industry diversity

Hosted at the spectacular Savoy Hotel London, the Women In Gaming Diversity Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the very best women working in the online and land based Gaming sector Internationally.

This year at the ninth edition of the awards, Affiliate Insider’s Lee-Ann Johnstone was nominated in the Leader of the Year category, I spoke to Lee-Ann about what it meant to be nominated, the importance of increasing diversity in iGaming and looking ahead to AffiliateFEST later this year. 

Affiliate Insider: Firstly, could you tell us more about how much it means to you to be nominated for this award?

Lee-Ann Johnstone: The women in Gaming awards were established to recognise women in the iGaming industry who are contributing to innovation and change within their businesses. As a entrepreneur with a new start up in place – which is all about helping affiliate businesses to grow and promote best practice within a competitive market place, I”m thrilled to be nominated as a Leader of the Year for the iGaming Supplier category. Considering that I’ve been in the industry leading teams for nearly two decades, building award winning programmes and affiliate marketing strategies for other brands, it’s nice to be recognised for the work that I’m doing for my own. There are a lot of women in the industry who have built incredibly successful careers and I feel privileged to have been one of them.

I want to encourage other young women to consider the opportunities that are available with in the online marketing space to develop strong career paths. Working in a competitive environment strengthens your skill set and I want to give back to the younger generation by teaching all that I’ve learnt developing my own career in the iGaming sector over the past two decades.

AI: Could you detail to us some of the success that you have had this year?

LAJ: I left the Paysafe group after eight years building their affiliate programmes and eventually managing the business development within the Income Access Network last year, as I wanted to build a business that would have a direct impact on assisting affiliate entrepreneurs to grow and access content, skills, mentoring that has otherwise not been available in our industry.

Affiliate Insider does this in a number of ways, we teach affiliate managers how to strategise and grow their affiliate programmes, we run intensive training bootcamps for gaming affiliate entrepreneurs to network and learn from the industries brightest digital minds, and we have developed a content portal that covers thought leadership, insider affiliate news and digital learnings that help new and existing affiliates to growth hack their businesses.

I have spent a lot of time mentoring small start ups as a member of Virgin Business Start UP and the London Accelerator academy and it is here that I saw the opportunity to use my knowledge, network and expertise to build a business that would focus on supporting iGaming Affiliate entrepreneurs to get the connections, information and support they need to grow their revenues and build meaningful relationships with trusted suppliers. Everything we do is about helping affiliate business to grow. We’ve managed to deliver an incredibly large amount of value in a small space of time by leveraging partnerships within the industry like SBC Global (Rasmus Sojmark is a partner) who also have a vested interest in supporting Affiliate Insider’s business plan.

AI: How important is it that females have a continued presence as leaders in the betting sector?

LAJ: Because the industry is still a new growing sector there are only a few key senior females at the top because we’ve been a bit slow to enter the market place as a traditional job of choice. I think as the industry expands, fresh talent comes in more and more women are being given the opportunity to grow their careers. This industry is probably one of the most welcoming to female co-workers, if you have talent and can display an aptitude to deliver to target – really you are given an open door to progress to the top. There are many successful women running large scale global affiliate programmes and in fact running sports betting businesses, take Paris Smith who is CEO of Pinnacle as an example.

Traditionally sports betting has been predominantly run by men but take a look at the next iGaming event you go to and you’ll see the numbers are evening out as the industry matures. I’m one of the few who got in early and I’ve loved every minute of it and that’s why I want to encourage, train and teach more to follow suite in my own business now.

AI: How crucial is it that these awards continue to recognise the good work done by women in the betting industry?

LAJ: I think awards give an opportunity to recognise talent. There are plenty of awards programmes in the iGaming industry that don’t focus just on male of female but it’s nice to be part of a community that recognises and supports one another based on actions not gender. These awards signify the diversity an recognise the pool of talent that make small and larger businesses innovate and grow that’s whats really important to take note of here.

AI: Looking ahead, what do you hope to achieve in the year ahead?

LAJ: We have big plans for growing the Affiliate Insider brand, from offering more content and thought leadership for affiliates and operators to upskill themselves, to creating bespoke training programmes that help digital skills development for the iGaming industry. Already we have successfully launched one in depth training Bootcamp which took place on the 21 March at Stamford Bridge. Our next event: AffiliateFEST is actually in its fourth iteration and will be running under the Affiliate Insider brand on the 19th September at London Olympia and will be providing in depth content for all gaming affiliates to help them improve digital strategies that impact traffic growth and update them on imaging regulation and opportunities to grow in 2019. We have some incredible speakers lined up, and sponsors include the likes of Buffalo Partners, Intertops and Income Access.

These operators are dedicated to supporting affiliate channel growth and have seen and experienced the value we provide from previous events. We’re here to support iGaming affiliates to get the support they need to growth hack their business. We’ll be doing this by providing more in depth content, commercial and strategic digital trainings and offering a personalised business networking space that helps entrepreneurs , suppliers and brands to connect and grow meaningful relationships. It’s rather exciting times ahead

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