´The current situation also implies unprecedented opportunities´ - Jakob Rothwangl, NOVOMATIC
(Austria).- Jakob Rothwangl, newly appointed Vice President Global Sales of NOVOMATIC AG talks with THE WORLD OF GAMING, Novomatic's magazine, about his approach to the new task given, his plans and the opportunities he recognizes in the current situation.
THE WORLD OF GAMING: You have recently been appointed as the new Vice President Global Sales of NOVOMATIC AG. What does this appointment mean for Jakob Rothwangl?
Jakob Rothwangl: It certainly is an important step in my career and one that will further broaden my perspective on the gaming industry. Of course, I extend my sincere gratitude to the NOVOMATIC Management Board for their trust in me and I was both honoured and happy to accept this new challenge. I consider this appointment an acknowledgement of my previous contribution to the success of the Group, since I joined in 2008.
I now look forward to implementing new structures within the global NOVOMATIC sales and distribution organization and I firmly believe that my international experience will stand me in good stead in my new position. I look forward to working together with my great international team here at NOVOMATIC.
TWOG: Can you please tell us a little about your previous career with NOVOMATIC?
JR: In 2008, I joined the Group as the head of the Group M&A department at the Austrian headquarters. After five years, I relocated to the US, where I worked with some gaming market pioneers, whom to this day I highly respect, to set up the NOVOMATIC Americas sales organization in line with the market entry in the US. These were very exciting times with an eagerly motivated team of industry professionals – and I learned a lot. My years of experience in the highly competitive US market environment ultimately enabled me to gain a better understanding of the various customer needs in terms of the diversity of products and services within the gaming industry.
After returning to Austria, together with my management team, I was able to successfully reorganize a subsidiary of NOVOMATIC AG, and since 2019, I have been working on various international projects at the Austrian headquarters, in addition to holding a management position in a Group subsidiary.
This new position is a wonderful opportunity to implement my experience gained within the Group and in the gaming industry to tap new potentials together with my team.
TWOG: What does this new position comprise? What do you aim for?
JR: Initially, it entails a focus on the optimized reorganization of the NOVOMATIC Global Sales structure. One key aim is to centrally manage all global NOVOMATIC sales units and to implement a central support and reporting of all sales activities within the Group collectively to the Executive Board. At the same time, we will be expanding our decentralized sales structures in the local NOVOMATIC country organizations in order to strengthen our teams out there. Global Sales will serve as a central hub for the strategic coordination, support and management for all local sales units around the globe. In parallel, we are forming our Direct Sales team here at headquarters in Austria.
What we aim for is maximized customer satisfaction, which we will generate through the development and sales of high-quality products and services that are perfectly attuned to the needs of our customers and their markets. Therefore, one of the top priorities is to enhance the flow of information and expertise from the local units to the head office, ensuring that, among other things, new products can be exceedingly reflective of immediate customer and market requirements.
TWOG: These are extraordinary times for the gaming industry, for the world economy as a whole and especially so for a new VP of Global Sales of an international gaming group. What are the specific opportunities and difficulties that you are facing in these particular times?
JR: Firstly, I generally don’t like to think in terms of difficulties because it hinders your entire approach. I prefer an outcome-oriented attitude that enables you to you address challenges as they arise. Looking at a slalom course from the start booth, you may see a solid wall of poles – but there’s clearly a way through and a very elegant and efficient one in fact too. You just systematically deal with each obstacle as it comes up, one at a time.
I am very aware of the fact that the gaming industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Whereas at this point, Covid-19 certainly is a game changer for the industry and all its stakeholders, I am positive that there will come a time, when this disruption will become history. That is the time we all need to prepare for, so that after the crisis, we will jointly be able to pick up where we stood before the crisis and thrive again as an industry.
Until then, we all have to adapt and focus on flexibility, mutual support and cooperation, and in the meantime, the key to success will be the operators’ efforts to implement safeguarding measures to create a gaming environment where players feel safely entertained and can enjoy their game. During this time, my team and I are as always available and fully committed to advising and supporting our clients online, via phone and email.
Looking at both sides of the coin, the current situation also implies unprecedented opportunities. It grants my new team and me valuable time to focus on our internal processes, evaluate the current state and jointly implement the necessary changes for the best possible future results.
TWOG: Online gaming has seen strong growth during these past months. How do you view this development – will the strong shift be permanent or partially reversible?
JR: The consistent growth in online gaming has been evident before Covid-19 and has of course accelerated during the past year. That was of course a very predictable development and a direct result of the circumstances. Online gaming is an industry segment, where NOVOMATIC has established a very strong position through an early diversification via our Interactive division Greentube, which has grown to be an internationally leading provider of B2B/B2C online games and gaming platforms for real money and social gaming.
Still, fact is that humans are a very herd-bound species – we are utterly social, we enjoy each other’s company and entertainment, especially in our leisure time. This intrinsically social behaviour is the basis of our entire leisure and entertainment industry, which the casino industry pertains to. Therefore, I am absolutely convinced that there will be at least a partial regress from online gaming back into the land-based, brick-and-mortar gaming premises, once we will be able to return to normal conditions. In fact, I expect a strong initial rise, as sort of an antidote to the current involuntary cocooning and remote interaction.
Yet I also am convinced that our land-based industry as a whole can only thrive as we strengthen our efforts to focus on the unique experience that distinguishes these land-based from online gaming offers – be it service, amenities, social concepts, resort concepts, or anything the future may bring.
TWOG: When you are not busy with sales optimization and business strategies, what are the priorities in your private life? How do you unwind?
JR: Unwinding is an important factor in order to draw new strength and to counterbalance the demands of the daily job. Only a well-balanced employee can display the necessary level of resilience that enables him to make wise decisions. The better we manage our work-life balance, the more valuable we are in our commitment to the company.
I personally prefer to spend my spare time in nature with various kinds of sports activities in summer as well as during winter. But also hunting and fishing are.