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Meet Rhi Burns

Disa Stigh

Estimated Time 12 min

August 5, 2020

Hi everyone and welcome to a new vlog at Casino By Her.Today I am going to introduce you to a new concept and a new Serie, which is called ‘’ Five Days Five New Faces’’.

The whole purpose and concept of this Series is to introduce you to a lot of people that work within Igaming. Today, I chose to start with a person that have been and of course still is, a role model for me. She is female, she is empowering, and she is pretty young like me as well. She has been climbing the ladder very quickly.

So, I am going to give her a call and let her introduce herself to you guys. Hopefully she has a lot of fun insights and also some inspirations for you if you want to pursue a career within Igaming or if you are already in Igaming, I am sure you can learn a lot from – Rhi Burns.

Disa: Why don’t we start with you know, how did you come to Malta, what did your journey look like?

Rhi: Yeah, I kind of ended up in Igaming and in Malta a bit by accident. I worked in or lived in a very small village in England. When I was around eighteen my parents split up, so I had to start and get a job, to contribute to the household a bit more. The only company in my little town who was hiring, was the betting shop – Ladbrokes, the Highstreet bookmaker. I never had gambled in my entire life I had no idea about betting shops or gambling.

But I walked in, asked for a job – and that’s really where it started.

I started as a cashier in the bookmaker as a part time, eighteen-year-old. I think within a year or so, I was managing a shop fulltime. It was like my first proper job and I mean, you can kind of pick up the industry quite quickly. It was very horseracing focused, which was fun to learn a bit about horses and betting in general. You meet some very interesting characters when you’re face to face to the customers. I think, if you can deal with gamblers face to face – you can deal with anything in life.

But it was good, it was a fun way into a very interesting industry that I would never had heard of.

Then from there I moved to Betfair. This was around the time when gambling was going more and more over to gambling online. More people who came into the shops wanted to bet online. So, I moved to Betfair and then I heard about Malta. They had a small office in this tiny little Island…

Disa:  … In the middle of nowhere, like where is this paradise island anyway…

Rhi: Exactly! I never even heard of the place before. But yeah, I decided that I needed some sunshine in my life and bit of a change from the dreary English weather. So, I came here for a four-day vacation just to see what it was like. It really fits, fitted everything I wanted. Everyone speaks English, the weather is good and then like the industry here, it would have been super easy to get a new job.

I already had like three, four years of experience, so it would have been really easy to get a job. I just hopped over to Malta with one month’s salary and one suitcase and thought I would try it for one year and see how it would go.

But now it’s like 10 years in Malta, this year, so I guess it worked out.

Disa: Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of the same story as many other people. ‘’ Ok, let’s go there for like 6 months or a year’’ to see what everybody is talking about… and woops, there goes 6 years.

Rhi: Yeah, Exactly.

Disa: I have, 6, or 6,5 years – this year. What did I do? I mean you can follow your career path and look back at certain memories, otherwise…

Rhi: I know, it goes so quickly…I see people coming here and leave after 2 years or you stay here forever basically. If you manage to be here 3 years, you will probably stay here for 6 or 10 years. It is a funny place, but life is easy here. I like that. It is less stress and in general people are more social. The weather is so much better – it’s good.

Disa: It is absolutely beautiful I have to say that. When you came to Malta you know, I assume they were less females in the industry. I know that you have been frequently posting on LinkedIn, some stupid and harsh comments from men throughout. So, I wanted to ask you a little bit about that and how you’d become such a strong and independent woman. It does sound like such a cliché, but in some and certain industry it’s not, really.

Rhi: Yeah, it has definitely been tough. Like the 3, firs 4 years in England in the industry – they were the worst. It was just men and I was working in Customer support at Betfair, there were like 40 people in the team and only 2 of us was female. The rest was men. It was very much like you had to be ‘’ one of the guys’’ to fit in and adjust – Which I don’t like. I don’t like coming in to work every day and pretend to be something or someone I’m not. You can’t really feel super proud of what you’re doing every day, if you’re acting up to be someone you’re not. It took a few years of trying out different personalities I guess and by the end, in Malta, when I was a bit older around 21 or 22 – I started realizing: Just be yourself.

You can get upset by things people say, do, when they look down on you or you can scream back at them or just get on with your shit. Be yourself, work hard every day and it took a long time like 14 years to get where I am today. I actually feel like I have achieved something and that I am been taking seriously. But it has definitely been worth not compromising who you are and how you want to do things.

So, I think, just be comfortable with yourself. It can be tough! Especially when clients or employees, I mean there are so many ways they can come at you and put you down. They can ignore you… you can have unwanted advantages… or just being horrible to deal with. But you don’t need to put up with it and don’t think it’s normal and that is fine. Be true to yourself and you will get there eventually. You can feel proud of yourself by the end of the day that you didn’t become like them.

Disa: I totally agree. When I speak with a lot of men about feminism and stuff like that within our industry, I usually say that I’m not a feminist in that sense. People get so aggressive when say the word feminism. I usually say that I believe in each and one individual. Like men and women have the exact rights etc. I don’t want to focus on that women only, should have the same rights as men, you know… in this industry. I usually find men are relaxing a bit more and listening when I do so. I think it is very important that we have more females in this industry to reach the desired diversity. As you mentioned as well, the few females we do have in this industry, really need to be very tough. You need to be one of the guys.

I think this is so important! Even when it comes to the players by the end of the day, women make up a big chunk, especially Casino players. They are valuable players! So, if you don’t have women inside the company, representing that audience, you’ll never going to understand that audience and you’ll never going to make the best of it. The industry needs to be much more welcoming to different people. Women, various nationalities and in general I have to be more open. We’re getting there I think, I’ve seen improvements over time.

Disa: I see more and more women taking high positions and so, which I think it’s very nice to see…And I think it’s very empowering just the fact that you and I are having this call. We don’t hang out on our spare time; we barely haven’t met, but I think us women usually keep an eye on each other – and it is really important.

Yes! And this is definitely a nice way of bringing women together. Maybe these women haven’t had the chance to get together, so this is a nice way to bring everyone together. Sharing experiences, like we normally wouldn’t have the chance to speak about certain kind of stuff.

Disa: Obviously there are some kind of networking events, gatherings and so on… but the older you get, the less you kind of want to attend these gatherings. Speak about business on a Friday evening, when you’re tired and just want to go home and..

: It’s fine when you’re 18 years old. But I think for us now, the work life balance is so important. Going, just for the sake of meeting people, I don’t know… I’m the same. I feel like it less and less.

Disa: It’s fine to just have a call like this and when you see a video like this online, and find it amusing – you can approach the person directly and enjoy these kinds of calls. It’s another way of networking and connecting.

: And definitely now with all the craziness going on in the world, it is perfect to find other ways of connecting – as there are no conferences and possibilities. Who knows when they even will be back? So indeed, this is very nice.

Disa: Since I know you from before, or I used to work with you briefly back at Catena, when you were Head of Sales if I’m not mistaken, even though it was a short period. What have you’ve been doing since; I know it was quite a time ago – but still?

Yeah, Catena was great. That was where I really figured out what I wanted to do career wise. Instead of just ending up in certain positions I realized Sales, Relationship building, and Management was really was I wanted to focus on. I grew as much as I could at Catena, and it was 4 great years. From there, I wanted to take the next step up from Head of Sales. I wanted a role which was way more operational and a position where I could make way more impact on the company. I also love small companies, or startups- like how Catena was when I joined. Being part of that growth… and when it becomes too corporate it is really not for me anymore.

Catena came to that point when I really couldn’t do anything and Zimpler came along. It is a really small company and it has been around for a few years. The trust is there, the product is there but it is still a very small company. They had a C-level position available, so I thought I would come and give my hands on this. Growing something from the beginning and make it the new next thing.

So, it’s been a year now, working for Zimpler. Trying to get it from more in the background and push it for the mainstream.

Disa: So, tell me a bit more about Zimpler. For the people out there who don’t know what Zimpler is – and maybe for existing or new customers / clients whom are watching this. What is Zimpler?

Rhi: Yes, so Zimpler is an online payment method. In the past they’ve been a very small payments company, kind of like an online wallet solution, that most casinos have in their cashier – bottom position. Payment is what we’re doing. And in the past year, we started to focus more on instant bank transfers. So, markets like Finland, Sweden, Norway where very bank heavy players can make instant transfers and transactions. They don’t need to use their cards.

There was really only one payment method offering these instant payments transactions and they had a monopoly, so they came of very expensive, I mean why not, when you’re the only one. So, we wanted to come in with the same product, but cut the price. So that’s our mission, to take on the monopoly, bring prices down, be less corporate and flexible. We wanted to have more human interaction with our merchants. Online banking and bringing down the cost are our passion.

Disa: Do you have any big operators that you’re currently working with?

Yes, you can find our bank method on Bethard, Videoslots, Casumo and big groups like Betsson. They are probably the biggest names that we’re working with now. Many others as well and you will find Zimpler in the most cashiers as well. We’re just trying to be become to main method on there and for the operator.

Disa: But that’s great. They have you onboard which have been your focus. If I’m not mistaken, you’re still alone in Malta. Because I think I remember that you were the first person positioned or located in Malta?

Exactly. I was the first one and now we’re 2. I just hired and account manager 2 weeks ago, so now we’ve doubled in size. It’s nice. We still don’t have an office space or anything and we’re still working from home. Which has been a learning curve, but it’s been good. I was kind of ready for this pandemic since I was working from every day, anyway. No change for me.

We’re 2 people now and the plan is to grow the operation here in Malta and we have the development and tech team in Sweden, so sales and anything client oriented will be here in Malta. Hopefully a few more people this year.

Disa: It makes sense that everyone has their Affiliate teams and Account Management teams here in Malta as you can just go across the street and meet everyone.

Exactly. There’s a lot you can do online but when it comes to clients and if something goes wrong it is very handy to be here on the Island. You can just rush over for a coffee and take them out for lunch/dinners. It definitely helps. We’ve seen a big improvement since I came along. So that is fun.

It is very convenient to speak online, but it’s even more nice to have a face to the person. A quick coffee and just to hear the tone of the voice. It changes everything. What would you say is the most challenging part about your new position?

I would definitely say the change from Affiliation o payments has been the biggest struggle. I have been working with sales for Catena, but it’s not really a sales job when everyone in the business want to do business with you. They come to you every day and you don’t have to go out convincing anyone. Specially at Catena, it’s one of the biggest Affiliates – so It’s not really a sales job. Then you come to a payment provider – and you can barely get a reply on your emails. It’s so hard and you have to focus and build things up. It is so much more sales focused.

So, the switch from being the on super in demand – to be on the frontline selling, have been the biggest change. It’s been great though, character building. Also, the dynamic with the client is a bit different. At Catena, even though they do know what you’re selling, they would be frustrated with how much you’re charging and hold on ransomed. But with Zimpler, we’re coming in – cutting costs. So, it is much more of an equal relationship and the casinos are much happier, with the kind of sales you do as a payment provider. You are there to help them save money, instead of spending money and getting as high CPA’s as you can.

Disa: It is obviously such a different job, so to speak. I can understand the transition… I’m really happy for you!

Thank you. It’s been fun and I’m very happy with this role at Zimpler. It feels great to be back at a Startup where everything is a bit of a struggle and every day there is something new to try and you have to change direction every 3rd month. It is fun when you see the difference, you’re making. Every new client you bring aboard is such a game changer for the company. It is hard work, but it is fun.

Disa: Another thing that I really wanted to ask you about, if you don’t have anything else you want to mention about Zimpler

No, that’s good, that’s good.

Disa: I think a lot about the younger generation, like we spoke about before, if they want to become the next Rhi Burns – do you have any advice for them? Let’s say you start in Igaming and work as a Customer support agent and you’re dreaming of pursuing and climbing in Igaming, what advice would you give them?

: That’s a really nice one. I would definitely say: Don’t sit around and wait for someone to help you. It’s great if you have a mentor or a manager that can help you grow, but you can’t always rely on that. So, you definitely have to be proactive if you want to go further. There’s a lot of free online courses, like specific gaming oriented or it can be broader- like sales and account management or marketing. Read books, educate yourself on your spare time. That will really help you when you apply for a job and push yourself forward towards new positions.

I would also say: Don’t be scared if you do not tick all the boxes from a job description or a job ad. Don’t hold back from applying if you feel like you can do this and learn from the job, or at the job. You should always go for it. There is a study that mention that women only apply for a job if they believe they tick all the boxes, but men will apply if they tick 50 % of the boxes. Push yourself forward. Maybe you don’t have 1, but maybe you have 2 other things to tick off – which can be much better.

Definitely be proactive and go for it if that’s the job you want. Maybe you don’t get the job, but you will learn something from it along the process anyways. You have to be your own champion. Also, ask your manager for a career plan. There’s no shame in saying ‘’ I want more. I will obviously do a good job at what I’m doing but tell me what I need to do to come to the next level’’. Ask for help. There’s no shame.

Disa: Really great advices. As a company I believe you need to have a very clear set plan for your employees. You will always have employees that are really happy with their job and they don’t want to do anything else. Then you have employees whom you hired, who wants to run – run fast. Like ‘’ I want to learn more and do more’’. So, as a company you need to set time to identify these individuals and set different targets and goals for them. Otherwise, as we see, which is a big trend in Igaming – You will lose your employees. I think it’s like a record in Malta. If you really want to keep the best employees – you need to make sure they have career path in front of them, otherwise they will go somewhere else.

Exactly and I completely agree. One of the most important things as a Manager is to have your own management style, but you need to adjust the way how you treat your different individuals in a team. Like you say, the people who are happy with their day-to-day – make sure they are continuously happy with their day-to-day. But the ones who want to do more – you need to make sure you have a plan for them. You shouldn’t be afraid to improve your team. Maybe eventually it means that they will leave for something more, but that should be a win for you that you helped them to grow. Maybe you had 3 great years with them and maybe they also find something bigger. It’s a great thing. And they are much more likely to be loyal though if they get what they need from you. So, I think that is super important.

Disa: Yeah and as you said, if you’re managing a big team like you did, different personalities and set goals etc., and someone leaves, it is key to be able to look back at your time together and be grateful for that time. It is fine to let go of people and be proud of that individual.

Rhi: Hopefully you helped them to grow over time and they’ll leave with great memories. It is something I realized when I used to work at Catena and I had this big team over 2 years’ time, I did never really take any vacation and I was super busy and stressed. Then my boss Klas said to me’’ You need to learn how to delegate more. You need to get to know your team and see who needs and want different things, also who is good at what’’. I needed to trust them more.

Once I delegated more and more tasks and learned which account manager who was good at different things, it became game changing for all of us. I could start taking vacation without worrying and knowing the company would not collapse and the team grew once they were taking on more tasks. We had such a better dynamic in the team when we could trust each other more and everyone felt more important. You could take vacation knowing, or yeah, just switch off. It’s good for everyone.

Disa: I remember, when I used to work with Clement, I still hope I say his name right… (Hard to pronounce) he always praised you so much. That you’re such a great Team Manager. You have a really good reputation and everyone that I speak to always praised you. A very strong businesswoman, that you’re fair. At a later stage you didn’t really want to go to the shows and that’s probably good, as you trusted your team. They could go and do their thing.

Rhi: That’s it. They always did such a great job. I did the shows for so many years and in the end, I rather just stayed back. I let them take that kind of things and I could worry about budgets, targets and planning… doing all the stuff that was rather boring but super crucial for the business. The guys could go out and be the face. They were the ones that were doing the best job, so. I’m really super happy to hear this as they were such a great team. I miss them every day.

Disa: They’re not too far away though.

Rhi: That’s true. We still check in.

Disa: You could still have an ‘’ After work’’ or so. So, what’s left, I wanted to ask you 4 fast questions, as well. What would you suggest or prefer: Work from home or work or would you want to go back and work from the office? Now when we have this pandemic and everything, but what would you prefer?

I would say work from home. For me especially, when I was working at a big company – I never got 100 % things done at Catena. People want your attention when you’re sitting at your desk and they’ll just come by and asks you questions. When you’re at home, you can properly focus and log out from Slack a few hours and get some work done. Then you can log back in and spend time on people. So, I would rather work from home, where I’m more productive.

Disa: Yeah. Do you think this will be the trend for the future?

Rhi: I hope so, or at least that it will be an option. Even things like reduced rents and costs for offices, less pollution for commuting. There are so many benefits. If you feel more proactive working from home, then it should be no problem for your employer.

Disa: Absolutely, I’m also working from home so, I’m with you on that one. Next one. Set hours or flexible hours? I mean that you for example don’t have to be in the office at 8 AM and need to leave 5PM. What are your thoughts on this?

Rhi: I think in general, flexible hours. As long as you get your things done – it shouldn’t really matter when you work. Although, the only time when I would question that would be when you have clients and you need to be able to answer questions. Then you need to match the same working hours.

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