The Totally Gaming Academy came into being in December 2015 and celebrated its official launch from its own branded theatre at ICE 2016.
Combining industry personality Lucien Wijsman’s undoubted passion for training with Clarion’s network of contacts and engagement with organisations throughout international gaming, the Academy has hit the ground running, setting new standards for the training and personal development of gaming professionals and regulators working at all levels. In his role as Director of Content, Lucien provides his perspective on the Academy and why training makes such strong commercial sense.
What are your reflections on the first 12 months?
Doesn’t time fly! So much has happened in the first full year with Clarion Events as a partner. I find it unbelievable that we now offer a full portfolio of training modules all of which have been very well received by the industry. We have been very fortunate in finding several industry experts, who combine knowledge with what I would describe as an ‘obsession’ to share it. I am proudly looking at the numbers of followers we have on LinkedIn and other Social Media and it makes me very happy to see that we are a developing a real community. It is just a matter of time before we welcome follower number 1,000 ahead of our appearance at ICE 2017.
What are your objectives for the Academy over the next 12 months and what are you planning for ICE 2017?
I have a couple of very personal objectives; one of which is that I want to see my two kids grow up. I became a father when I had passed the age of 50 and I am trying to spend as much time as possible to witness and actively take part in this wonderful journey of growing up. Having partnered with Clarion allows me to enjoy this part of life more than before and I am very grateful for that. I also have a number of business goals. We now have a complete training portfolio and rolling those out worldwide is both a challenge and an exciting opportunity. I want the other trainers – as well as our dedicated office team – to see the world the way I did when I was embarking on this journey and which has stayed with me throughout. Sharing knowledge and experiencing new cultures; I truly feel blessed! In terms of ICE, obviously this is a once a year wonderful shop window for any organisation involved in gaming and it’s vital that we make the most of what is the best opportunity in the world to engage with gaming professionals from 150+ nations. We tested a ‘sneak preview theatre’ when we launched in 2016 which attracted an amazing 900 visitors who were able to sample the training that we offer. We are going to repeat that initiative in 2017 but on a bigger scale.
You have been involved in training and development for some time, do you think this is an area of the business that gaming organisations are now taking more seriously?
It is my belief that gaming organisations have always taken staff training seriously! Don’t forget that our industry- land based casinos more so than any other sector – are unique, in so far as more than 95% of their staff have direct customer contact. It’s the people that casinos employ that makes the difference. I have never met a Gaming Manager who has denied the link between staff motivation and bottom line income. Training motivates and knowledge motivates. What we actively try and do during our training, is to give delegates insight and knowledge, but also, to give them the tools to improve the bottom line of their organisations. Helping to identify the ‘low hanging fruit’ within the daily operations typically generates a very rapid return on the training investment made.
Where did your interest in training originate. Are you a gaming professional with an interest in training or vice versa?
I really had to think about this. I guess I’ve always had an interest in sharing knowledge. In addition, and those who’ve attended my training courses probably agree, I feel like a fish in the water when I’m on stage. That goes back to kindergarten and primary school from where I still have memories of playing Cicero in Julius Caesar and Cleopatra aged eight! In the army, I was a driving and maintenance instructor and at Holland Casinos I ended up training various target groups in Slot Machine Management. Training is in my blood I think.
Do you believe that a professional, well trained industry sends out a positive message to regulators and legislators ?
Of course a well-trained industry sends out a positive message to regulators and legislators! Actually, regulators are also finding their way into the classrooms of the Totally Gaming Academy. Well trained regulators make better regulations. I have to say, I love to see the interaction that takes place between operators and regulators in my classroom – it’s priceless!
What do you look for in an Academy trainer, what qualities do they bring?
Clearly, you must be obsessed with your field of expertise to make it to the front of the room. In addition, the ability to deliver is very high on the list of capabilities of Totally Gaming Academy Trainers. The rare combination of being a bit obsessed and being able to deliver is what all Totally Gaming Academy Trainers have in common.
The industry will be able to witness this with their own eyes at ICE at our Totally Gaming Academy theatre. I’m looking forward to it and being able to raise a glass with friends and colleagues to toast our first ‘official’ birthday.
For more information on the Totally Gaming Academy and the training schedule visit ??totallygamingacademy.com. To register for tickets to ICE, the biggest event in world gaming, visit ??icetotallygaming.com