Inside Asian Gaming Deputy Editor Raquel Dias caught up with Scientific Games Sales Director Clinton Long to discuss his love affair with Asia.
Raquel Dias: Thanks for chatting to us Clinton. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Clinton Long: I grew up in Sydney and Aristocrat was my first real job – when I finished university I immediately went to Aristocrat. A lot of guys start their career like this, straight from school. I started in sales right after that, in the Sydney area. Then in 2007 the company moved me to Singapore.
I went through the openings of Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa in 2010. Then after 12 years with Aristocrat I joined Shuffle Master. I had Ken Jolly (Vice President and Managing Director – Asia at Scientific Games) as a boss at Aristocrat back in 2007/08 so I joined Ken again. Eventually Shuffle Master was bought by Scientific Games, so I’ve been in sales with them for a few years now.
RD: How did you find the transition from Australia to South East Asia?
CL: I had only been to Asia twice and that had been to Bali, which is basically like visiting any other Australian city! But I remember Singapore was easy. They describe it as Asia for beginners and it really is. There wasn’t a language problem, it’s a very easy society to live in. But I was eventually moved to Cambodia – that was an eye opener! I have to admit though, it was easier than I thought. Most people spoke English and I had no problem adapting to the food. I love Asian food. The biggest thing was the culture.
RD: How so?
CL: Well, in Asia you have to interpret a lot more. Dealing with western businessmen you are more direct, more straightforward. Here you have to understand what they mean. You have to learn to be more patient, especially when you’re dealing with emails. You have to be more careful. But I found I love dealing with Asian business people because they are a lot more loyal and once you gain their friendship, they will continue to stay close to you. They are also very hospitable. No matter which country I visit, I always feel welcomed.
RD: And how did you end up in Macau?
CL: Well I had been coming to Macau for many years with Aristocrat. I was very confident because of my experience in Singapore. I knew Macau was a small place as well and I anticipated a few challenges but it was better than I thought. Everything was extremely convenient, everything was nearby and I love the expat community here. Of course, it has its challenges. Going to the supermarket can be expensive and you don’t always find what you are looking for. But altogether I have enjoyed the experience.
RD: Between Singapore, Cambodia and Macau you’ve been in Asia for a long time now. Do you still feel like you are learning?
CL: I’ve been in Asia for 10 years now but it feels like two! I feel I’m always learning, especially after joining Shuffle Master. It has been such an experience because Aristocrat was very oriented towards the slot machine business, but at Scientific Games we deal with everything in the market. That’s a big learning curve, especially when it comes to gaming tables. Also, having a team under me is a challenge. I was always used to working alone, having to report to a single person about how I was doing. Now I have a responsibility with the team and that’s been fun. They are a good bunch of guys to work with which has made it a lot easier for me.
RD: What is your favorite part of working in the gaming industry?
CL: It’s not boring! I have a lot of friends working in the financial industry or other industries and they always ask me questions about gaming. That’s because it’s an interesting area to work in. Everything is always changing. The stories I get out of it, maybe because of a trip to the Philippines or Cambodia, are always fun. There’s also the fact that you deal with different types of people. Especially when it comes to clients, there are just so many different types of characters and personas from high-level executives to two guys in a smaller venue in the middle of nowhere. You find everything. Also, gaming is in different stages in different markets so you’ve got customers that are highly experienced and others that are very new to it.
RD: Do you have the perfect job?
CL: Well, I won’t tell my boss that, but it’s true. I have no reason to move on to another industry.
RD: What do you like to do away from work?
CL: Golf, golf, golf! I’ve played it since I was a kid.
RD: What is your handicap?
CL: It’s about five or six. I don’t actually have one because I’m not a member anywhere. I play as much as I can. I just bought a condo in Danang, right on the golf course, which happens to be my favorite course in the world. But if I’m here in Macau I go to the country club most weekends. Sometimes I might take my golf sticks with me, but it’s a good icebreaker and a great thing to have in common with a customer.
RD: What is your favorite thing about Macau?
CL: I would have to say it’s the food. Sure, Singapore has a lot of good food as well, but Macau’s is special. When I go back to Australia, within two weeks I’m craving local food. It might be Portuguese or Asian or Chinese food, it doesn’t matter. My favorite restaurant? I usually take my friends and family to Fernando’s!
RD: What would you tell a young person who dreams of working in the gaming industry?
CL: The only thing is that you have to like it. You have to truly like it. It doesn’t matter so much your background, but make sure you like it because there is no cut off time, you are always working. You have to understand you are not taking a job, you are accepting a lifestyle.