CasinoBeats talks to NetEnt‘s new CEO Therese Hillman about the challenges the company faces in a changing gaming landscape

THERESE Hillman was appointed CEO of NetEnt at a challenging time in the company’s history. Her longstanding predecessor had been relieved of his duties, precipitating a number of key senior management changes at the business.

The move followed performance that chairman Vigo Carlund – himself since replaced by Fredrik Erbing – described as “not as it should be”.

Referencing the company’s “value creation potential,” Carlund said that NetEnt needed “a new driving force to reverse the trend and increase the focus on growth”. Enter Hillman.

Three months after taking the reins, the new CEO talked to CasinoBeats

You have now been chief executive of NetEnt, one of the industry’s most high-profile positions, for three months. How have you settled into the role? 

“It’s been a hectic three months, but it has given me the chance to assess things from the perspective of my new role and to begin implementing a new strategy and direction for us.

“These are exciting times for NetEnt and the industry and I’m really looking forward to continuing our journey.”

“My intention was to follow through on the strategy in place… But what we see today is not enough to drive THE high growth we target

What will a NetEnt under your leadership look like over the longer term – what strategic changes can we expect? 

“My intention was always to follow through on the strategy that we already had in place; growing with existing customers, adding new customers, entering new regulated markets and adding new products.

“But what we see today is that it’s not enough to drive the high growth we target. So, we’re constantly looking for ways to create revenue and we need to have a strategy that will deliver higher growth numbers.”

Will the company be looking at new verticals and territories?

“On the product side we are beta testing our new social casino, we have a strong belief in our media buying service for operators and we will continue to be innovative when it comes to our live casino offering.

“In terms of markets our strategy is still to enter regulated markets. We are seeing that
things are starting to move in the US, not as fast as we would hope but we see great long-term potential here.

“I also think that Asia is a great opportunity for us and we look to step up our efforts in the Asian market.”

In your initial quotes following your appointment, you talked about bringing ‘humility’ to the role – can you expand on that?

“Looking back, our growth has been incredible, but the industry was vastly different when we started.

“There is a power, ambition and family spirit in this company and it is my absolute conviction that we will turn things around

“Back then we could be the only supplier to one operator where they now can have up to 70 suppliers and that competition has led to us not being able to deliver the growth numbers we used to.

“Being humble means that we can’t carry on like before, but must stop, take a step back and review our growth initiatives. There is a power, ambition and family spirit in this company and it is my absolute conviction that we will turn things around.”

You are one of relatively few female CEOs in the gaming sector – does this give NetEnt a platform to build on its already strong record on diversity and equality?

“I think our culture and high ambition when it comes to diversity and equality is not tied to one person. It was important to us before and it will continue to be important going forward.

“This is something that our whole company invest a lot of thoughts and work into.”