Inside Asian Gaming catches up with Lloyd Robson, Aristocrat’s new Sales Director – Asia Pacific.
IAG: Let’s start by talking about your background. Where did you grow up?
Lloyd Robson: I was born in Sydney and spent my whole school life there. When I finished school, I moved to London and was playing soccer over there for Southend for a couple of years. Then I tore the ACL in my knee and returned to Sydney where I entered the real world, going to university and looking for a job.
IAG: So the football career was over?
LR: Career over … the soccer career over but professional career getting started.
My career goal was always to be a soccer player so it took me a good couple of years to get over it mentally and that was really going through the motions to begin with at Uni. I actually started in the pharmaceuticals industry so I had a spell there for five or six years with Elastoplast, who make strapping tape.
But I eventually landed at Tabcorp in the gambling and entertainment sector and was there for six years before moving to Aristocrat in mid-2016. I’m a passionate person for the industry. I’ve always enjoyed a little flutter myself so it was a pretty easy decision to join Tabcorp eight years ago. I was always interested in gaming and we had a gaming services business at Tabcorp even though I wasn’t directly involved in it. Aristocrat provided that opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it.
IAG: What was your role at Tabcorp?
LR: The last role I held there was National Business Manager, managing the likes of ALH (Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group) with 12,000 machines across the country. That was my primary role but I also managed the stakeholders in the industry – the big bodies like the Australian Hotels Association – so it was a bit of an industry engagement and sales role. I guess the benefit of going from Tabcorp to Aristocrat is it’s the same sector, same customers and the only real thing that changed was the product. I went from selling a service to selling a service via a product.
IAG: And the move to Macau came about quite quickly after joining Aristocrat?
LR: Realistically it was only 10 or 11 months before we agreed to come up here. To be truthful, when I joined Aristocrat they had said there was the prospect of international opportunities. They told me, “If you do 18 months and deliver like we feel you can, you decide where you want to go next.” You obviously take that with a grain of salt but it happened quicker than I thought and the opportunity was too good to resist.
IAG: Was it an immediate yes?
LR: In my mind it was an immediate yes but I had to go home and have a conversation with the fiancé! It was funny, the day I went in to have a chat with our Managing Director Mitch Bowen I kind of knew something was on the horizon and going into it my missus said she would move anywhere in the world. I got home and said, “How about Macau?” To be honest, Asia was the region that excited me the most, particularly being Australian. The link between Australia and Asia and the reliance economically we’re going to have in the future, if I had to pick one region it would be Asia. Macau specifically I didn’t know a lot about but my Mum was born in Hong Kong so it was a pretty easy conversation to have with Mum and Dad – they said to go and do it, so now I’m here.
IAG: How has the transition been from Australia to a completely different society like Macau?
LR: I guess officially I started on an ominous day, September 11, but we’re a few months in now. There has been a bit of commuting between Macau and Sydney but that’s pretty much come to an end. It’s challenging spending that time away from your partner and working through those little logistical things like finding an apartment and opening a bank account. You tend to take those things for granted. I mean, at the moment most of our things are on a ship in the middle of the ocean so Bec is living with not much back home, but we always knew there would be that six-month transition period. She’s a primary school teacher and she’s going to come to Macau at the end of January.
I’ve been told that January isn’t the best time weather-wise in Macau and all her friends are school teachers so I told her to enjoy that month in Sydney and then we’ll start our new life together from February.
IAG: What are your early impressions of Macau?
LR: I’ve been fascinated to be honest with you. What has struck me most has been the multiculturalism. There is obviously the big Chinese influence but then there is the European side with the Portuguese. There are so many cobblestones. Coming from Sydney, I knew there was Portuguese heritage but I didn’t expect it to be so visible in the architecture.
Then of course with the gaming industry there is a fairly strong expat community so you’ve got this clash of three cultures which I’m just starting to explore. Clearly I’m going to struggle to stay in shape with all the nice food here.
But I found a nice little café where I’ll get my coffee everyday called Rethink, that’s always important.
IAG: What restaurants have you discovered so far?
LR: Believe it or not in the few months since I’ve been in Asia I’ve only really been in Macau itself for about three weeks, but I have spent a bit of time at North at the Venetian which is nice Cantonese and IN Portuguese in Taipa. That seems to be a winner on the Portuguese front but I’m looking forward to discovering many more.
IAG: Do you plan to travel while you’re here?
LR: That was a huge part of it for my partner particularly. The goal is to spend every second weekend on the road somewhere if possible – once a month somewhere in Asia and once a month in Hong Kong. I can’t wait to throw myself into it.