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Meet Maria Florides

Disa Stigh

Estimated Time 12 min

September 30, 2020

Good morning, good morning. It’s Disa from Casino by Her and I’m finally back in my office after several months away. Both from Malta and my office. I will introduce you to Maria Florides today. She has been working as an affiliate manager. She’s been working with sales. And she now represents GPWA which is a website online and a magazine. It was founded to unite operators and affiliate programs. They work a little bit like a middle hand if you have any problems or you need a better communication. There’s a lot of tools that are available if you have an affiliate program or listed on GPWA.

I have met Maria a couple of times during conferences and she has a very broad network. She’s a very lovely lady. I called her and we spoke a lot about her career path and a lot of things in general. She lives in Cyprus, so it was nice to see that she has been staying home and safe as well. So yeah, let’s start the interview and I hope you are going to like it and learn a lot from Maria.

Maria: I never really thought about going into gaming. Even when I was little I never even played with a toy or nothing. I was totally like… I was more like an outdoor type of person with Animals. You know, that’s what I wanted to be. A farmer. It’s nothing compared to what I’m doing now. I kind of fell into the business. When I moved to Cyprus, I was reading a Greek newspaper with a dictionary trying to find jobs and I saw something, kind of part time. My soon was small so for me it was perfect. I did some jobs in management and I got fired. My first job. But I learned so much. The best part was that I made some very good friends there. That was the best part of it. I didn’t even care. I didn’t think about that I got fired. I don’t care. It’s like a made really good friends. From there I worked for 3 years in costumer support. The night shifts. And that was amazing. Many people tried to tell me what studies I should do. I would say to go into costumer support. If you really want to learn how to treat costumers. How to write to them. How to listen to them. How to solve problems. From there you can graduate to management and slowly go up.

Disa: I mean, it’s such a young and innovate industry to work in and I believe that a lot of companies, or most of the companies, really do give a great internal path. So, as you said. A lot of people start in costumer support. They get all the feedback regarding the company and their clients. And then it is just uphill you know.

Maria: Yes! So many companies give you the option and the say “what would you like to do?” When I was working for Global gaming, they came up one day and asked “besides what you do. Which branch of the company are you interested in?” They gave you options and opened your mind to other things. I’m the type of character that like to move around and learn more. I could not just… I mean, I Iove what I do at the moment because I get to talk to so many different people. I’m always learning and I’m always trying to push myself. You know when you have a deadline and you need to meet you goals on the money that you need to make and the sales that you need to make. So, it’s like… I have to manage myself. I have to push myself. And I love it. It’s nice.

Disa: You have to be disciplined and eager to learn.

Maria: Yes. Definitely.

Disa: You got to have an open mindset and be very social as you are if you are in sales. For the people watching this video, would you be able to tell about the company you work for? What do you do? What do you offer?

Maria: Yes. So, I’ve been working with GPWA for just over 3 years and 1 month. The GPWA do so much. Before I started working with them, I didn’t even know everything that they do. But what I do here is that I look after affiliate programs. I recruit them so that we can help them collaborate with affiliates. We give them lots of resources and tools such post in forums, mailers and interviews in magazines. We do so many extra things as well such as training. If I see a new manager that needs help, I can help them through my experience. We try to go beyond whatever we sell to our customers. We have affiliate managers that post in the forums and send press releases. So, it’s a really, really good way of branding themselves or rebranding themselves. In the forum we have over 28.000 members from all over the world. So, there’s really affiliates for everyone and all the different markets that you may have. Mainly we have for Europe but also the U.S, Australia and Africa. We have affiliate managers interviews and knowledgeable people that can contribute. Also, articles and lovely ads that they can promote and reach out in that way. What is great about the magazine, under the directory, is that we send it by post to any member that registered for the magazine. We take them to the conferences, it’s online and we post it in the newsletters. We really try to cover as much as we can. We try to help as much as we can to spread the word about them and our customers. Also, at the GPWA we have an online casino city and an affiliate portal. In America, my colleagues do land based casino’s. They cover that side of the business. The company has been around for like 20 years or even more I would say.

Disa: So, you are the middleman. You have operators, affiliate programs and the affiliates

Maria: Yes.

Disa: It’s a little bit of a neutral ground as well. Sometimes it can be a little bit hectic when some things come up like payment issues and so on. Then it’s good to have someone in between to hear both stories and figure out a mutual solution.

Maria: Yes. Whatever issue, we try to stop it before it escalades. Our team in the U.S, they have a really cool app that is helping people to recognize what land-based casinos are open and which ones that are closed now during COVID19. On my side of things, we have to adjust to things. I’ve always been used to using Skype. For me Skype is like everything. For an affiliate manager, Skype is everything. I always keep using it. Things haven’t changed much besides that we aren’t going to any conferences. I’m using more LinkedIn that I usually do and write more about what we do. Like right now when we’re talking. This is great. People can see what we are doing in a different light. Because, sometimes people don’t have the time to read. So, if I can talk to someone like you and people can hear about it, it helps. Participating in virtual conferences. I invited you to go to the mixer. LeeAnne’s mixer. It was great so you have to come to the next one. It’s really nice to meet with people like that in a group. And even if you don’t close a deal, which isn’t the aim, it’s a good place to meet people and see how we can help each other. When I went to SBC, I met this lady that covers the Japanese market. My client’s need Japanese managers. So, I remember this girl who was lovely, and I put them together. Sometimes the aim is not to get something for yourself but to help the people around you.

Disa: I totally agree and that’s why I really wanted to start doing this concept of Casino By Her and my channel. I do believe that we sometimes don’t speak enough. It’s just such a nice way to network and really present different people and what they do. I also want to touch topics such as; how you started and where you are now. I think it’s really interesting to getting to know people behind the curtains a little bit more. If you check out one of my videos you be like, ‘Oh, this person. I should really speak to her’.

Maria: I did! You were lovely in the two videos that you did with the girl from Israel from Ibex. I collaborated with her many times but never seen her speaking like that before. So, it was really lovely to see her like that you know. I remember that I used to chat with her on Skype, but it isn’t the same.

Disa: Exactly. When you know where people come from and who they really are, it’s easier to understand in what way you can have a sustainable partnership as well. I’m not saying that everybody has to be super personal and I understand that some wants to leave out certain details of your life etc. But I think it’s a very nice and neutral way to get to know someone and learn more about what they do.

Maria: Yes

Disa: In terms of what you are doing now etc. Do you have a lot of plans for the U.S? Is that a hot topic for you affiliate right now?

Maria: I deal more with the affiliate programs. Some of them are showing some interest but very little. I mean, it’s going to really difficult to get in there. First of all, you don’t get a license for all of the U.S. You have to get different licenses. It’s going to take a lot of investment. You going to have quite bit of money to be able to do that. And see if you are going to be able to get it in return. It’s going to be the philosophy of the operators and what their aim is. But no. I don’t hear much. Latin America is the hot topic. In Brazil they are going crazy. Before that it was Africa and Asia. It was before COVID. Actually, Asia was really hot.

We were even going to go to Manilla for the Sigma. Everything was ready and everybody was talking about it at LAC. Then COVID came and unfortunately for them things got really cold. India! Operators are really crazy about India as well as a market. I never worked with the Indian market so I couldn’t tell you much about it. But I’m waiting to learn from my young managers. You know, whatever you learn, come tell me and maybe I can help someone else with information.

Disa: I have been working with a team of roughly 70 people sitting in Bangalore and I deal with them on a daily basis. They are great colleagues of mine and we do run some Indian traffic. Regarding the U.S, it’s a really hot topic and it’s going to be expensive to get in. But I assume that you are going to hear a lot from the operator’s side. They are going to scream after traffic from the U.S. So, I’ll guess we just going to have to wait and see what happens.

Maria: You have to wait and see. But like I said, I haven’t heard many operators talking about it. Maybe they are planning for it but keeping it quiet. You know, when you want to do new things, you sometimes want to keep it quiet. Whatever market…These emerging markets, you are going to have to spend a lot of money. Even in Brazil… I have one of my clients, they got a really nice representative. They got Roberto Carlos representing them over there. So, people are going to have to spend money like that. Now you need… Like I said, people don’t read a lot. They like to see. They are very visual. So, to have an influencer talking about you really helps. That’s why it’s good to get out and talk. I’m not really good at writing anything anyways. Whatever I write is because I have too, and I have to push myself to do good. I’m better at talking.

Disa: Yes! What would you say is the biggest mistakes your clients do when they sign up at GPWA? If they don’t see the desired results for example. What would you tell them about how to use the tools? Or what are the biggest mistakes that we do?

Maria: Okay. Sometimes people are very eager to start, and they are not ready. When I say ready, I mean that they don’t have a manager that will take charge of that account. To make sure to be there and to post. Not just to be looking after that you know. But to have an eye on it. But lately people have been listening more and I tell them just to have everything ready. Terms and conditions. We help them to fix them and befriend affiliates. We try our best. I mean, it’s difficult. Nobody is perfect. Some days they are going to have problems with terms and conditions you know. We don’t turn them away. We explain to the what the negative impact might have. Some of them are really good at listening and doing what we tell them because we have experience. Other ones suffer the consequences of bad communications with the affiliates. But if an affiliate wants to work with you, they have to accept the good, bad and the ugly. You know what I mean? If not, don’t work with them. But yes, not to be ready. I think that would be the worse. If they’re not ready it will be more difficult for them.

Disa: What do you do in your spare time when you’re not working and chasing affiliates?

Maria: I love doing handy work. I’m the type of person that would go and see something in the rubbish and see the potential. It can be a lovely mirror. I’m going to take it, paint it and put flowers in it. Make it look beautiful. So that’s what I do. I absolutely love it. On my husband’s side they are very artistic. They are all musicians. So, my son doesn’t really have an option. He has to be artistic.

Disa: It’s running in the family so to speak.

Maria: Yeah. In both families you know. We got the culinary side of things and arts and crafts. So, for example it can get very lonely working from home. I mean, I’ve been working from home for over 10 years. Also, when your boss trust you that you do what you have to do, they let you get on with it. You have to push yourself. Every morning you need to plan what you going to do. I’m going to focus on this. It sometimes can get a bit depressing. You know, demotivating. So, during my weekends when I do art and craft and listening to 80’s music I turn the volume all the way up. It really energizes me for the week and makes you feel so good. It gets me thinking. Sometimes I can be painting and all of sudden I think that I need to contact these guys and I make a note. I’m always with my notepad and my excels because I got a terrible memory. So, I have my calendar beeping with alarms and everything. So, that how I get motivated.

Disa: That’s really good advice. I think a lot of people need to have something on the side to let go of work during the weekends if you can.

Maria: There are times when it’s like full on with deadlines and you have to go. When there is quiet time, you have to learn to come down and take advantage of the quiet time. Maybe do something else during that time. Take advantage a take it easy as well. If you got a headache, take a rest. You have a headache because you need a break. You have to listen to your body and manage yourself. Some of the managers had to start working from home when COVID came out. Some of them got overwhelmed with so much work. I’ve been through this forever. For me it’s the same. It takes you some time to manage with your wife and your child. I mean, now a days some of the girls that have kids have to do home schooling. Oh my God! Thank God that I don’t have to do that. Honestly, I did help my son with learning Greek when he was little as I was learning myself. Then it got to a point when I said; ‘Okay. Go to school and let them teach you. I got no clue about this’. I don’t know how they manage.

Disa: It’s going to be tough for sure.

Maria: I take my hat off to these ladies that do all of this.

Disa: For sure. We salute them. As you probably know, I’m speaking to a lot of different people from different companies, operators, affiliates and magazines. Do you have someone in this industry that you admire for her/his work and a person that you would like to know a little bit more about? It can be anyone in this industry. And then when I contact this person I’ m going to tell them that Maria is very interested in knowing more about you. I think it’s cool to highlight people and create a circle.

Maria: I’m going to have a good think about it, but I don’t have anyone on top of my head to tell you the truth.

Disa: Sure thing.

Maria: But I will come back because I’m sure your network is really big and if you have someone that you admire and I know them, I’m happy to introduce you. To make contact.

Disa: Okay. So, if there’s something else that you really want to add to this.

Maria: Well, I just want to thank you for your time. You know that time is money and you could be doing so many other things, but you are talking to me. I really appreciate it. The time and the space that you are giving to me. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these videos. Actually, I would love to recommend some girls for you to interview that can say a lot about themselves and that I admire. Some young girls. So, thank you. It was so lovely.

Disa: Thank you very much.

Maria: The last time we saw each other was like 3 years ago at Sigma. That’s when we met right?

Disa: Yeah. For sure. It was probably 3 years ago.

Maria: Yes. Definitely. It was just conversations on chat after that and we never really had the chance to have a nice conversation.

Disa: No proper chats so next time we see each other on a conference we for sure going to have some good times and catch up again.

Maria: Are you based in Malta?

Disa: I’m based in Malta.

Maria: So, if Sigma is on, we’re on.

Disa: We’re on. Absolutely.

Maria: Maybe some Margaritas.

Disa: Margaritas and some chats sounds fabulous.

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