WOMAN TO WOMAN: In sports betting, spend what you can afford to lose

Saturday December 3 2016

Betway Kenya Country Manager Wanja Gikonyo

Betway Kenya Country Manager Wanja Gikonyo talks about her job and gives advise on how to gamble responsibly. PHOTO| COURTESY 

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Betway Kenya Country Manager Wanja Gikonyo talks about her job and gives advise on how to gamble responsibly

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

I am the Country Manager for international sports betting company Betway. I head the growth and operations of the company tasked to drive it in the right direction as well as to promote responsible betting.

What does your job entail?

As a Country Manager, I have a team of close to 50 employees, which includes marketing and PR, call centre and a sports development team together with whom we ensure we offer a superior and competitive betting platform. I also drive the company’s strategy and overall growth.

What is your ideal day like?

I’ll catch up with emails, meet with various sports agencies or clubs, engage with media partners, strategise and plan for upcoming Betway activities with my team. I also work closely with our call centre which interacts with Betway players online, on phone or email.

What did you study?

My undergraduate degree is Bachelors in Health Sciences after which I thought of going on to medical school. However, I decided to pursue an MBA in International Finance.

What drives you?

To be better than what I was the day before. I want to grow my career, innovate and create opportunities and employment. And to be a voice of knowledge and an expert that is well known in the industry.

I want to be part of local sports management and its growth as we have very talented Kenyans in athletics and various team sports. It would be great to provide a platform that encourages and helps grow such talent which Betway is already doing in our just concluded football talent search for upcoming footballers.

What advise would you give to those who bet?

As an online gaming business, we’re positioned as a sports entertainment platform and as such one spends what they can afford when it comes to entertainment. Careful spending is key, spend what you can afford to lose.

Further, sports gaming is a product for adults (18 years and above) who are in control of their finances and can make decisions accordingly.

How long have you been with the company?

Eight months

What did you do before this?

I worked for a mobile content services company as the Country Manager in Kenya. The company offered SMS and online communication, PR and advertising services to corporate clientele.

What’s your take on the women who bet?

Women gamers are more cautious. They have look for and gather information through their networks like WhatsApp groups before placing any wager.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Learning… every week and almost daily, there is something new that comes up from which I get to see a different angle or way of handling the unexpected.

And what do you find most challenging?

Betway is in a fast growing and competitive field and the number of players are ever increasing. Such an environment demands that we’re always in the know and cutting edge of ideas that will grow the company’s  market share. 

What do you find most enjoyable?

I enjoy interaction with my co-workers as we develop marketing ideas and plan events around the brand and its growth. My role entails a variety of activities some of which are in the office environment but also out on soccer fields or news studios.

Tell us about your family

I am a mother, something I enjoy immensely as it gives me the passion to get up and go every day. Family gives a purpose and meaning to my work as I pursue and grow my career.

How do you balance between your job and family?

Family is the reason I work and I therefore carefully manage my time ensuring a balance at home and at work. Keeping the balance is, however, an ever moving target and requires continuous work and re-centering.

What’s your favourite meal?

Chicken or fish with vegetables.

What do you like doing in your pastime?

Reading, travelling and running (as exercise)

What mantra do you live by?

Patience always pays. If you believe in something, keep at it!

Highlight some of your successes

My successes are varied but first and most important is being a parent — it’s a blessing.

I’ve seen my career take shape over the last 15 years since I first started work in a start-up firm. My leadership capabilities are improving as I’ve gone from operating a company of five employees to currently close to 50 employees and growing.

 What are your future plans?

From a growth and leadership perspective, I would like to pursue a degree in Public Service.

From a community perspective, I aim to mentor girls and boys on career planning and the importance of networking.