At WIS, we make it a point to ensure that every person in our company is given the opportunity to develop their professional skills and take their career to new …
The Women of WIS – The Growth of Female Leadership in the Company
The issue of gender diversity is one that appears in multiple sectors, many of which have been male-dominated for years. However, female recruitment, participation and leadership has been steadily increasing, thanks in part to efforts made by women in various industries as well as companies fostering female talent and ambition. We sat down with three of our female Heads at WIS to discuss their experiences as leading professionals within their respective fields.
CAMILLE (HEAD OF CONTENT)
1. What are you proudest of achieving so far at WIS?
When I first started working at WIS, there were only 15 freelancers, 2 full-time writers and one content coordinator within the Content Department, alongside one product manager. Therefore, one of the major tasks I had at hand was developing resources, both in-house and externally. Now, we are 8 full-time employees and over 30 freelance writers! Together with the support of the People and the PM departments, I’m proud that we’ve managed to expand the team while also improving the structure of our workflow which is, naturally, an ongoing process. There are always things that you need to revise, revisit, or revamp as you go along.
2. How many years have you been working in this industry, and how did you arrive at your current position (Head of Content?)
WIS is my first experience working in affiliate marketing, and I’ve now been here for a year and a half. Before joining the company as Content Manager, I was working as a freelancer translator for an iGaming agency, where I worked for 2 years. Six months ago, WIS decided to promote the managers to ‘Head Of’, and I’ve held that title ever since.
3. Do you have any female role models who inspire you in the work you do?
My best friend and I previously worked together – she was in customer service, while I was in a managerial position. Since we share similar values when it comes to work, we always keep in touch to offer each other advice and support. She herself is always trying to give her best in everything she does and for her clients, while making sure that everyone around her is happy, cheerful and supportive.
My former manager (later, my friend) whom I was working under as a content writer taught me everything she knew before I was promoted to a more senior role. She was a great listener, and her door was always open if others needed to talk about their concerns. Managing is not easy because you can’t always make everyone happy, but communication is key to resolving many issues and finding solutions.
4. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
The lockdown and COVID regulations have helped me to discover a keen interest in hiking recently! I also like to create jewellery, and I’ve started to go to the gym more regularly too. Apart from this, I enjoy meeting friends and reading self-help books, such as Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. I especially recommend The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, which changed my life, as well as Atomic Habits by James Clear.
5. Has working at WIS helped you develop professionally, and if so, how? Is there any advice that you would give to women in a similar role to yours?
My role at WIS has helped me gain self-confidence. During my first few months at the company, there was a push to get more articles published while resources in general were limited. Once I understood that I was trusted to do things the way I thought best, I felt confident enough to handle the tasks I had been assigned. In fact, the more autonomy I was given, the more assertive I became. It also helped that I was shown understanding and assurance when I needed it, and that I was allowed to grow and learn from my mistakes.
The advice I’d give to other women in my position is to not take certain attitudes or behaviour from other colleagues too personally. In the past, I encountered people who seemed to think they know better than me and came off as a bit overbearing. I’ve learned that the best way to handle situations like these is to put your ego aside, wear a professional ‘mask’, and just go ahead with what you yourself think is best.
6. What are your goals for the future (personally and professionally?)
Professionally, I’d like to be able to delegate more, to continue training others, and to share my previous experiences with my team more often.
On a personal level, I’m hoping that things will soon return to normal, as so much is on hold due to COVID! I would like to be able to relax more and explore the world as soon as travelling freely becomes an option again.
7. If you could travel to any part of the world for a holiday, where would you go?
I’d love to visit the Azores islands in Portugal, as being surrounded by the ocean has always appealed to me. I also love the country’s rich history and culture, including the architecture, food, and the music, as well as the language itself, which I’d like to learn one day.
EVELYN (HEAD OF THE PEOPLE DEPARTMENT)
1. What is the most rewarding part of your role at WIS?
I like that I can help to change people’s work lives for the better. No day is ever the same at WIS as I always have a variety of tasks to work on, including the ‘consulting’ part of my role. My job is a combination of working at a desk and with people, with more of a heavy emphasis on the latter.
2. Could you tell us exactly what your role involves, as Head of the ‘People Department’?
As Head, I take care of the people at WIS and contribute to its overall dynamic, as well as overseeing all the aspects of our employee experience from onboarding to training and development. I also make sure that we’re up-to-date and compliant with any changes in employment law, such as the ongoing COVID office regulations. Then, of course, there are many ad-hoc things that need be handled on a daily basis. Apart from this, I help Ira (our Talent Acquisition Specialist) with recruitment by discussing and assessing potential candidates.
3. What are the positive impacts of having more female leaders in the workplace?
Women do tend to have more empathy, or are usually more open to show it, and perhaps, as a result of this, female leaders are often more prone to implement more family-friendly policies at work than their male counterparts. They also tend to be more democratic, encouraging their team members to participate in decision-making. However, this does not mean that there are no male leaders at all who can have a similar impact.
4. What would you say are the most significant barriers for women in leadership roles?
Unfortunately, old-fashioned stereotypes which can affect how women are perceived still exist, which can sometimes hold our gender back. Some still think of men as the default breadwinners of the household, while women are expected to be not so career-oriented and stay at home more, or to be in a position to have more time to dedicate towards their families. Women might have their own self-internalised inhibitions which can make them feel as though they have to behave in a certain way, sometimes creating issues with their own self-confidence at work. Expectations to have children may also slow down their career progression.
5. Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
At the breakfast table with my husband, with some freshly baked bread and coffee, with some nice music in the background!
6. How can companies attract female talent? Do women generally apply for the same roles as men, or do they differ?
Companies should promote more work-life balance initiatives. When employees at WIS started having families and more children, the People Department got together with the COO, and together we decided to introduce more family-friendly measures to make everyone’s lives a little easier. Women who have families look out for policies such as flexible working hours, as they are usually responsible for picking the kids up from school or taking them to activities. Besides flexibility, it’s also good for job seekers to know that there’s career progression available to everyone.
Regarding applications, I’ve noticed that men tend to apply more for senior sports-roles.
7. If you could ask anyone over to dinner, alive or dead, who would you invite?
I would like to invite all my grandparents who have passed on. I still have some questions I’d like to ask!
OKSANA (HEAD OF SALES AND AFFILIATES)
1. How many years have you been living in Malta, and how do you find life on the island?
I have been living in Malta for 14 years. In the beginning I found it a bit difficult to adjust as I’m from Moscow, and I was used to the lifestyle of a big city. However, as time went by, I soon began to appreciate many things on the island that I didn’t have back home, such as the sea. In fact, during the first summer I lived in Malta, I swam every day! I also found Maltese people to be very hospitable and helpful. The environment here is very safe for children and families too, and I enjoy the holiday lifestyle on the island very much.
2. How easy is it at WIS to balance your work and family life?
I really like the family-friendly approach the company has. Even before COVID, the company gave us home-office allowance which was a very big help; if you have children, like I do, it’s obviously impossible to plan sick days in advance, so if something cropped up last minute, we had the option to work from home. Now, as a result of the pandemic, our home-office allowance has greatly increased. This flexibility is really helpful if you’re a working parent.
3. What do you think are the greatest obstacles for women in iGaming, if any?
Women who have families, especially small children, often face obstacles, especially if the companies they work for don’t offer policies such as flexible hours or the option to work from home. To add on to this, there are many foreigners in Malta who work in this industry; most don’t have grandparents living on the island who can look after the children while the parents are away, unlike their Maltese counterparts.
4. What was it that initially drew you to work in iGaming/affiliate marketing?
Before joining WIS I did affiliate marketing for an English school, which was mainly B2B and involved commission-based sales. Afterwards, I went on to work in the software industry, which was similar enough to iGaming that transitioning to the latter felt very natural.
5. Do you have any advice for women in your position?
My advice would be that it’s not impossible – you can do it! If you can, I’d hire a good nanny; ours has been with us for 5 years. She does a lot of work around the house and helps a lot with the kids.
I’d also mention that the iGaming industry has a slightly different, welcoming culture, which is very international and which doesn’t allow much room for sexism. Being in Malta for all these years has given me the chance to work in both small, local companies and bigger, international companies, and I have noticed a significant difference between them in terms of work culture.
6. What is a typical working day for you like?
The past 6 months I’ve been working remotely from home, occasionally coming into the office every so often. The first thing I do in the morning is to open all the communication channels we have, including Skype and Outlook, and I see if anything is urgent. I check any meetings I have and make sure I don’t overlook any! I try to plan everything I want to do that day, though sometimes, urgent issues crop up that immediately need dealing with.
We are currently a small team of three in the Sales and Affiliates Department, but we’re in the process of hiring two new people. I schedule weekly calls with my team members as well as calls with our partners to remain up-to-date both internally and externally. The day always flies by quickly! Our main vertical is iGaming, though we also have clients from the finance sector.
7. What are your hobbies and interests? How do you relax after a day at work?
I enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and hiking. In Russia I cycled a lot – everyone did where I’m from; here in Malta I prefer to go on long walks instead. I also love playing volleyball whenever I get the chance. When I travel, I like to visit art galleries and see musicals at the theatre.
I do still enjoy reading a good book – I prefer ‘traditional’ books as opposed to electronic ones. And, of course, I love meeting friends – hopefully it won’t be too long before things can return to normal and we can start socialising normally again!
Here’s how we at WIS have met the challenges presented by the pandemic head-on, and how we are constantly looking ahead and re-framing our efforts to tackle the future.
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