Interview with Thomas Bijman
Anastasija from Revpanda talked with Thomas Bijman about the beginning of his journey, the goal of his Business Unit at Evolution, and his once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.
At Evolution, their mission is to bring success to operators across the globe and provide an excellent gaming experience for their customers. Their vision is to be the leading online gaming provider. Thomas Bijman is the director of the affiliate marketing business unit and he is tasked to transform and monetise the B2B games portfolio of the group through a collection of sites aimed at players.
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Hello, Thomas. It’s nice to meet you. Can you tell us more about how your journey started and what brought you into iGaming?
Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to interview me.
I’m an avid traveller at heart, and between 2013 to 2015, I lived across different continents, which included staying at an Aboriginal community in Australia, a Muay Thai training camp in Thailand and Guayaquil, a port city in Ecuador.
It might sound weird, but in 2015 I started craving a normal life in Europe, closer to home, friends and family in the Netherlands. By ‘normal’, I mean working regular office hours, buying a house, paying a mortgage and getting a cat.
This was when I discovered Catena Media. I applied for a job with them, and when they accepted my application, I filled up a tiny suitcase and relocated to Malta.
At Catena Media, I held several integral roles and was a key member of the team, which grew the business from a small start-up based out of a penthouse in Sliema, to the stock-listed powerhouse it is today.
Eventually, I was hired at NetEnt and later Evolution, and this is where I restructured the department, heavily cut costs, and hired a team which included development, SEO, content, and account management, all the while working hand-in-hand with internal departments like finance, compliance and legal. In a matter of months, we managed to turn the department into a healthy revenue machine with a strong EBIT margin.
Can you give us some insights into the commercial and product side of your business unit?
Evolution is first and foremost a B2B supplier that helps operators improve their business. The main goal of my unit is to educate players about our fantastic portfolio of games.
With a dedicated team, we are working tirelessly on a showcase site for the group. Evolution’s OSS or One Stop Shop gives us access to the best Evolution content via centralised and seamless technology integration. Our upcoming showcase website will have a big focus on SEO and market localisation, so we can best serve and educate our players wherever they are in the world.
Also, through our affiliate sites, we aim to deliver the best possible leads to our partners by leveraging our industry-leading IPs, quality free-to-play games, engaging promotional videos and educational tutorials.
What advice do you have for someone looking for career growth in this industry?
In my personal opinion, you should gain a hunger for knowledge and nurture it. Never ever take your foot off the gear.
Make sure to stay up to date on all new iGaming-related developments, including product and game releases, global financial market conditions, mergers and acquisitions etc. I’d also recommend subscribing to industry newsletters, listening to all available podcasts and watching or reading quarterly reports during reporting season. I think it’s really important to get a deep understanding of what drives revenues, profitability margins and success for different types of businesses.
Another way to get ahead is to gain a great understanding of the business models of different players within the industry, such as operators, game developers, affiliates, PSPs and so on.
Personally, I think it’s very interesting to discuss and theorise how companies and share prices are affected by macroeconomics, general perception and investor sentiment.
By doing these things, you’ll never have a dull day. There’s always new and exciting stuff to explore.
How does your business unit bridge the gap between a B2B supplier and affiliation?
At Evolution, we are entrepreneurial, innovative and always on our toes, eager to catch the next opportunity. In all we do, we always focus on how we can serve our players in the best way possible. What have you done for our players today? This is a common question that pops up in all our product meetings.
The objective of the affiliate business unit is to leverage our collective brand strengths and IPs to build scalable showcase sites and platforms that our games deserve. Our goal is to get more eyeballs on our games and deliver the best quality leads to partners.
You have travelled a lot. Can you share some of your adventures with our readers?
I have worked as a volunteer in numerous countries around the world and spent some time living in an Aboriginal community in Australia and in a Muay Thai training camp in South East Asia. I taught English in Ecuador, and I travelled to the United States for three consecutive months without paying for accommodation once, as I would meet friendly locals who would offer me a room for the night through a platform called Couchsurfing. I believe that if you throw yourself into the deep end, you have no alternative but to grow as a person.
That’s interesting about the aboriginal community in Australia. Why did you decide to have this experience, and did it give you valuable insights you could share?
A truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I was able to live and work in a roadhouse in an Aboriginal community in a place called Warmun, in the absolute middle of nowhere. Throughout my time in Australia, I realised that Ozzies have very few interactions with Aboriginals, so for me this was a great way to immerse myself in a new experience. During the day, I was serving food, gas, candy and drinks to the locals and travellers that passed by. The six square metre container I lived in only had a single bed, a small fridge and a small cabinet for my clothes. There was no internet or TV signal. It was a fun, humbling and somewhat spiritual experience.
Why did you choose Thailand to participate in the Muay Thai training camp?
Pai, in the rural northern part of Thailand, is one of my favourite places. It has waterfalls, bamboo forests and lush green rice fields. I love their Buddhistic and hippie lifestyle and their great food and big love for football and Muay Thai. I love to watch and practice sports like football, running, gym and, of course, kickboxing, which is why I ended up training Muay Thai for 10 weeks, 4 hours a day.
Having a work/life balance and staying productive and inspired is crucial nowadays. What is the most exciting thing you have read/watched this month?
This will sound very nerdy, but I generally love crunching numbers, so I always get very excited to read and watch the quarterly business report of Evolution, the last of which came out on the 21st of July. The strategy of my business unit should be based on facts and interesting market developments; for this reason, I follow the wider company extremely closely.
What are your passions and hobbies? How do you spend your free time?
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