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The Qualities that Matter

Parimatch Tech Founder Katerina Belorusskaya gives honest and refreshing answers in discussion with Tim Poole, as she addresses her changing role at the company, the future of the operator and the success of female executives within gaming.

What is your role within Parimatch Tech and how has that changed over the years?

Formally, my role and title has changed a few times during my career with Parimatch. The focus of my attention has mainly been on the development and growth of the company. During the start of my tenure at Parimatch, in 2011, I was mainly focused on business development in different countries. Parimatch is an international company and, when I joined the team, we very actively evolved and progressed. There was a lot of attention given to processes in different countries; for example, Belarus. I also focused on new launches in Kazakhstan, Cyprus and in Africa.

From 2018, I started working more on the firm’s corporate development. We’d grown a lot as a business by then, with a more sophisticated management structure. There were more complex and serious business processes and, to that end, I started focusing more on the central operations of the company. At that point, though, we decided we wanted to decentralise, empowering our local teams more and having less control from above. I helped develop a lot of our HR, PR and CSR functions, which I was personally determined to grow myself.

As well as being Chairwoman of the Parimatch Foundation, I’ve always been a partner in the company and I’ve always felt it’s important to understand how operations are going and how we’re progressing. I never wanted to be a partner who just looked at the numbers. For me, it’s always been important to take part in the daily life of the company, to better understand it. If we talk about what I do today: I’m part of our Supervisory Board, which came to fruition in April.

It’s very new but it’s a sign of our progress as an organisation; I don’t see a better role for myself than what I’m currently doing right now. We constantly evaluate our results, risks and targets. I see a lot of potential in Parimatch Tech.

How involved will you be in the running of the business moving forward, given the roles of Co-CEOs Maksym Liashko, Roman Syrotian and Chairman Sergey Portnov?

Like I said in my previous answer, my main role is being part of the Supervisory Board and I am no longer too involved in the operations side. Today, I focus more on corporate control, capital and talent management – because people are at the heart of our business, so it’s always important to focus on our people.

How can you help champion the rise of female executives in gaming, and encourage more to come through the ranks?

I try to show by example that you can reach high-ranking positions in any industry and any business. I think, today, the industry does see things differently: women have shown they can go far in the gambling and technology sectors. Women can be absolutely as competent as men; it’s more about self-belief and women, for some reason, can think they can’t reach senior roles in so-called male industries. That’s not the case and plenty of women are reaching high positions, leading by example.

Quite simply, the more women that succeed like this, the more people can see it’s possible and believe in themselves. I hope my example can inspire some; overall, it’s more about stereotypes that were given to us at one time and, gradually, we’re getting rid of them. Soon, hopefully, we’ll see an exactly even picture. At Parimatch Tech, we still have a relatively low number of women in top positions – but we do have them. We only judge based on the competence and experience of different candidates, which are the only qualities that matter.

Are there any non-betting aspects the business will now focus on, having rebranded to Parimatch Tech?

Yes, we rebranded to Parimatch Tech because there was an acknowledgement that we’re no longer just a bookmaker but a technology company. You can see this from the number of IT specialists that work for our company. We are, of course, still majorly focused on gambling products, with our main aim to get players betting. So it’s difficult to say exactly how much we are focused on non-betting aspects, as betting remains our core proposition. But the industry overall has changed and technology is the most important service you can offer your client. There have been a huge amount of technological advancements in our industry.

Which new markets are your biggest priorities?

We are of course very big in the CIS markets, seeing as we started here and became leaders here. So right now our focus is beyond these markets and elsewhere; because we know we’ll reach a saturation point where we can no longer grow in our core markets. So our main focus now to develop the Parimatch brand for our partners in Europe and on the African continent. I won’t name specific countries just yet, because it’s still up for internal discussion. But with confidence I can say Europe and Africa.

How would you rate the success of Parimatch’s Supervisory Board so far, following the restructure?

I think it’s still very early to rate the success of the Board. We only restructured in April and, through trial and error, we are getting better as a board. From one side, the Supervisory Board does not quite fit into the old Parimatch culture; we’ve always been ambitious and quick-moving. We’ve been used to making quick decisions – again through trial and error. Now, we have to discuss things in greater detail at a board level, which is more difficult for a brand like Parimatch given our traditional go-getter culture.

Our product hasn’t changed, we are still focusing on betting – and the Parimatch brand remains. But the evolution of Parimatch Tech means we are a company that works internationally, looking at every aspect of the technology chain and ultimately aims to entertain the end player. Today, we are just as strong in terms of technology as our branding. Now, we are thinking a great deal about franchising, so there’s a lot of focus on both the betting branding and the technology side. At the same time, a company like Parimatch Tech, with the level it’s reached, it can’t really do without this kind of board-level activity anymore. Let’s see: I would say within a year, we will know for sure how effective or not our Board will be, because we’re still in the formation process. We are becoming a little more bureaucratic, but it’s a sign of our evolving nature.

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