Senior account director, Square in the Air
For Lina Sennevall, being nominated as one of iGB’s Most Influential Women is a sign of the importance of diversity in all industries. While she notes a lot has changed over the decade she has worked in gambling, there is still more to be done.
“In an ideal world, these awards wouldn’t be necessary,” she says, “but in a very male-dominated environment, it’s fantastic that we acknowledge the work of some of the women that make our industry a better place for all participants, not just a certain demographic.”
Sennevall cites a real passion for the industry as motivating her in every role she’s held, from her start as a senior reporter at Gambling Compliance to her current role at marketing consultancy firm Square in the Air.
“I truly find the sector fun and exciting, with constant developments in a range of areas such as technology, regulation and compliance, product development, innovation, responsible gambling and CSR,” she explains. “That passion and interest I have for the industry has made me want to constantly push myself and always stay ahead and learn, while enjoying it along the way.”
Yet, Sennevall also admits that the fact that women have to try harder to be taken seriously in the gaming industry has been a challenge throughout her career.
“I am glad that things have improved since I joined the sector over a decade ago, but I still see and hear sexism,” she says.
“A current problem is a struggle to attract more women to the industry in the first place, with men making up the majority of applicants whenever we have a job opening.”
Having a visible representation at events is one step forward in tackling the issue, she says: “More women speaking on panels and building their personal brands can hopefully encourage more diversity.”
President, Europe, Odds On Compliance
Cheryl Jones views her nomination as a testament to the support she’s received throughout her career.
“This achievement holds immense significance, not only for me but also for those who have steadfastly supported me throughout my gaming career,” she says. “I have long held that if you have a voice, you have influence and if you can empower someone else to think the same, then you’re doing a good job.
“Receiving this award is a testament to the recognition of my values and perseverance as a woman in the gaming industry.”
Jones recognises that advancements have been made in attitudes to gender parity in the workplace. But she believes measures should be put in place to ensure opportunities are truly equal.
“More people than ever before believe that women have an equal opportunity to reach leadership positions,” she explains. “But those sentiments haven’t been enough to drive significant changes in actual advancement. Biases are still a barrier.
“To break them down, organisations need to mature their approach to gender parity and create structures and systems that work for women and men.”
And in her professional life, Jones has made moves to put these words into action. At Odds On Compliance, she founded Women Leading Women, created for women in igaming as well as those working in sports and technology.
“I make myself accessible for mentoring, actively promote a culture of diversity and inclusion and advocate for women’s professional development within the industry,” she explains.
Although she believes in the power of networking and community, Jones understands that ultimately, the motivation to pave your own way as a woman in a male-dominated industry must come from within.
“I consistently tell others to own their careers and their voice; don’t wait for someone to come along and present an opportunity,” she concludes. “Create opportunities you want to see yourself in, use your fear as your motivation and never say no to any challenges.”
CEO and founder, Doura-Schawohl Consulting LLC
For Brianne Doura-Schawohl, making iGB’s Most Influential Women list represents a tremendous honour, especially in being recognised by her peers.
“As a female business owner looking to make a difference and create a new path, it brings me an immense amount of gratitude and pride,” she says.
The CEO and founder of Doura-Schawohl Consulting LLC modestly attributes her success to a village rallying behind her.
“Success isn’t about embarking upon the journey alone or never failing,” she adds.
Doura-Schawohl also highlights that as an entrepreneur, a wife and a mother, she is often faced with having to make difficult decisions, make sacrifices and take risks. “Having mentors, colleagues, clients, family and friends – people that believe in me, truly believe in what I am doing and what I am trying to build – well, that’s my secret.”
Doura-Schawohl also acknowledges her mistakes and tries to regroup quickly when, professionally, things don’t go as planned. She also divulges that she’s getting better at asking for help.
“I’d like to believe these qualities don’t make me weak but rather put me in a position to continue to grow and evolve as a person and a leader,” she says.
Another thing the CEO has come to terms with is the saying “women can have it all”. “Whoever said that lied,” she explains. “No one can have it all. When I am away on business, I am sacrificing being home with my family and when my family needs me, I could be losing out on potential business opportunities.
“It’s all about priorities and being happy with the choices that you make and the balance you desire and create for yourself.”
One of Doura-Schawohl’s biggest challenges in her journey has been finding her confidence. She admits that like many women she’s no stranger to imposter syndrome.
“I have felt more times than I care to admit that, because I haven’t had many female mentors or come across many other female leaders in gaming, I somehow don’t belong or won’t be accepted. I’ve also found myself worrying once or twice that I have only received a job because I was a woman.”
Yet, once she let go of these mental obstacles, the CEO was able to find herself in a different state of mind.
“I’ve found tremendous happiness in the realisation that I am more than capable, that I am being embraced by men and women in the industry due to my contributions, not my gender, and that I do have a meaningful place and role within this sector.”
Read part one of our Most Influential Women 2023 countdown here.
Profiles by Dan Kleiner and Marese O’Hagan