Paul Puolakka is the current Chief Marketing Officer of Viabonus, a digital marketing and lead iGaming veteran.
Having worked in many marketing roles and as Head of Affiliates at Maltese-based VRTCL Gaming Ltd, he is renowned for his experience and network in the iGaming industry. Here we conduct an interview-style article with Paul, picking his brain on what it takes to get into, and succeed in, the iGaming industry.
You have been in the iGaming industry for quite some time now, Paul. How would you describe iGaming to people?
iGaming is simply known as Internet Gaming. It is the umbrella term for online gaming activities. And yes, these gaming activities might involve betting. Examples of these iGaming games could be casino games, video games, and poker games, to mention a few.
What drove you to the industry? Was it passion?
I used to work as a B2C & B2B Sales manager in a telecommunications company. I really enjoyed that job, but it got to a point where I wanted to expand my professional capacities. The role I was currently in was limited, and I wanted more responsibility, and a stronger set of industry skills to continue developing.
Soon after I had this notion, an ex-colleague came to visit Finland during the summer one year and introduced me to the iGaming industry. She worked in an online gaming company in Cyprus, and I was curious to learn more about what was involved.
It sounded interesting, but frankly, I had no idea what she was doing. I wasn't familiar with the concept of online gaming. I had really only played online poker back in the "poker boom" days, but I sucked at it. Big time.
I got really interested, and I started researching more about the industry. However, the idea of taking a leap of faith to the unknown really seemed exciting at the time, and I decided to go for it. I left my job and decided to pursue a career in the online gaming industry. I had it in mind that if things didn't turn out well, I could always come back.
That was a big decision. What other steps did you take to build your reputation in the new industry?
As I mentioned earlier, I did lots of research. I kept myself informed on the latest and best games and software and made sure I knew more than my competitors. I also learned that most online gaming jobs were located on the small Mediterranean island of Malta.
There was also a recruiter in the industry that helped me get started. He informed me that getting to know as much as I could about the industry is best done through being a part of the customer support department. Beforehand, I had experience working in manager roles, so I thought a customer support role would be a great way to learn about the industry. That was the department I started with.
After working in this role for some time, I decided to make use of my sales background and ventured into affiliate marketing. After nine months of working in the affiliate marketing department, I became the Affiliate Coordinator in “ComeOn!” Before getting to my current position, I have worked in different roles as Senior Affiliate Manager and Head of Affiliates.
Do you have any tips to give out to anyone interested in taking up a career in the online gaming industry?
Yes. The gaming industry is a large one. There are a few essential tips I recommend to anyone trying to build a career in the industry.
First, you should consult industry recruiting agencies. They are equipped with vital information and resources to guide you through the process. These agencies work with lots of companies in the industry and will guide you to the perfect department that suits the skills you have. A great example is Magic Mondayz, a recruitment agency specializing in iGaming roles.
It is essential to conduct plenty of research and to do much of this research on your own. Getting familiar with the industry, new and improved products, software, and every other thing linked to the company gives you a foundation of what you are going into. For instance, finding out everything there is to know about a company you have an interview with shows your mindset and positive attitude towards work. It is not a requirement to be a passionate gambler before working in the iGaming industry.
It all depends on the skills you previously have, and many other industry skills are applicable to the iGaming industry.
Focus on networking
Another very important tip is to focus on networking. iGaming is full of great networking opportunities such as conferences and events. Learn to build networks with the right people in the industry and be very active at all times. Networking paves the way for new opportunities, both short-term and long-term. It also helps to create a good impression of yourself in the industry and establish a reputation that is more than just an email address of a digital presence.
Building a good reputation is a crucial factor. Reputation is everything. The industry is well networked and very close.
Building a good reputation is a crucial factor. Reputation is everything. The industry is well networked and very close. A good reputation goes far, but so does a bad one. It is essential to be cautious and act accordingly. Be dedicated and inclined towards improving your skills. Learn to have a goal towards which you work to achieve.
Hone your skills and work towards achieving your goals and passions, and you will carve out a place for yourself in the industry. It wasn't until I networked with people in the industry that I discovered my pull to affiliate marketing. Having confidence that my skills would be properly put to use, I set a goal that I would pursue the role in the affiliate marketing department.
Finally, have fun. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing.
Finally, have fun. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing. The online gaming industry is a multicultural, multidimensional industry full of great people and creative companies. It is always a pleasure to catch up with people in every area of the industry. Honestly, having fun is one of those things I love doing while working in iGaming. It helps establish community and trust in the community, as well as professional relationships.
Can anyone work in the gaming industry?
Yes. The industry is growing quickly, and there are plenty of opportunities becoming available. There is a wide range of departments to build careers in. Getting a job depends on the skills you have to offer. I chose to pursue customer support when I started before moving to affiliate marketing, as I had applicable skills that would help me to excel.
Other available roles are game developing, writing, interpreting, translating, sales marketing, data analysis, games testing, and many more. The industry is quite flexible and accommodating, and there are always new and exciting roles becoming available.
Given that the company is accommodating, is the online gaming industry run on diversity and non-gender policies?
Yes. A lot has changed in the industry from 2014 to the present. The industry used to be filled with males. It was a bit of a 'boys club' with only a few females in the leading positions. Now, women have found and built strong careers in the gaming industry.
The iGaming industry is also a broadly diverse one. I worked and have worked with many people worldwide, such as Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Germans, Polish, Canadians, Dutch, Americans, Estonians, and everything between! Irrespective of ethnicity, race, sex, or color, the diversity of colleagues from all walks of life during these years has been truly astonishing, and extremely rewarding.
After all, an equal industry and workplace benefit all regardless of gender. In general, I've enjoyed working in the industry, and in many ways, it opened many doors for me, and I've learned to work in multicultural teams with different backgrounds.
Key points To Note From The Paul Puolakka Interview
- Paul Puolakka is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Viabonus, a bonus, and casino comparison brand. He has worked under many online gaming companies in various marketing roles & manager roles. He switched from his job as a manager to a telecommunications operator.
- The iGaming industry is an industry that involves online games and betting.
- Most of the gaming companies are located on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Still, in recent years there have been other hubs that have been growing rapidly, such as the tech-hub Tallinn, which is located in the Baltic state of Estonia.
- To build a career in the online gaming industry, it is important to do research, gather more information, speak with recruiting agencies, discover your skills, create networks and connections, stay dedicated and have fun while working.
- The gaming industry is open to people from all works of life irrespective of their experience, identity, ethnicity, gender, race, or color. According to Paul, he has worked with people from all over the world.
- There are many lucrative job opportunities in the iGaming industry. Companies require the services of writers, game developers, game designers, artists and animators, product managers, game testers, technical support, audio programmers, and more.
iGaming, also known as online gaming, is the general term for internet gaming activities associated with betting. These internet gaming activities include online video games, casino games, poker games, casino betting, etc. Recently, online games have become popular and are the raving sensation everywhere, with online casinos taking the lead. In America, iGaming has generated more revenue every year. Technology and the internet of things (iOT) have added to the growth and improvement of online gaming.
iGaming is easily accessible and cheaper to access compared to physical casinos. The industry is a fast-paced one that employs a wide range of people with different backgrounds and skills. Running an online gaming brand requires all sorts of professionals ranking from developers, marketing, branding and design, and everything between.
There are online gaming companies all over the world. However, there are more companies on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Lots of fast-growing gaming companies are present in tech-hub Tallinn, which is located in the Baltic state of Estonia.