Paris Smith - E-Sports, Innovation and the Pinnacle Passion


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Episode 7 of the SBC Leaders podcast features Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle, the iconic sports betting operator, a position she’s been in since 2006!

Paris and Kelly get into Paris’ early career, how she got into sports betting and whether she always had ambitions to become a CEO (Spoiler - always wanted to be in charge!). Paris gives her thoughts on company culture, building a team of hard-workers that want to produce rather than just show up, and tells Kelly all about what they call the ‘Pinnacle Passion’.

Paris speaks about the importance of caring about people, knowing your team and being able to take a step back and let the experts do what they know needs to be done, and learning that you don’t always need to make the final decision! Paris also gives some sage advice to anyone with aspirations of achieving a senior leadership role within the industry.

Kelly also picks Paris’ brains on Pinnacle’s innovative e-sports offering, what it was like being in the e-sports betting game in its burgeoning days, and why the two worlds haven’t necessarily totally meshed together yet.

Diversity is also a topic of discussion, with Paris being one of a few female CEOs in gaming, and one of the most long-standing, as well as assembling a gender-balanced and ethnicity-balanced senior leadership team. Kelly asks Paris to outline some of the benefits of having such diversity at the table, and the insight it allows Pinnacle to tap into.

Finally, Kelly asks Paris about her daughter who recently graduated, whether she’d like to see her join Pinnacle, and what Paris hopes she’s imparted onto her daughter in terms of leadership.

00:12 - Intro

00:37 - Introduction to Paris and Pinnacle Sports

01:32 - Pinnacle’s history, Paris’ experiences at Pinnacle, what she’s learned during her time as CEO, how the industry has changed and where it’s going next

02:39 - E-sports, Pinnacle’s innovation in trading e-sports in 2010, and the importance of stepping back and letting the experts in her team take the lead on things within their expertise. How Paris reacted the first time she heard the idea of trading on e-sports, and a trip to Berlin that made the whole thing click.

04:55 - Why have the esports and iGaming industries not fully meshed yet, do gamers and e-sports players understand sports betting?

07:54 - Challenges of running a multinational company, how they were compounded during the pandemic and the importance of localisation and local viewpoints when you operate in a market.

09:26 - Remote working, whether it’s made Paris more available or less available, how she manages her day-to-day.

11:06 - Diversity, Paris’ position as one of the only female CEOs in the industry, a gender and ethnicity balanced senior leadership team and the benefits that brings.

14:22 - Paris’ daughter, whether Paris would like to see her join her in the workplace, what she hopes to have imparted onto her in terms of leadership and what she’s learned from her, and from motherhood that she’s been able to bring into the boardroom.

16:56 - Did Paris always want to become a CEO? How Paris got started in the industry and her first betting job.

19:16 - Advice to people who want to be a CEO and have aspirations to lead in this industry, importance of being true to yourself and listening to people, allow others to make decisions

20:35 - Do you have to love sports to be a CEO of a betting company? Paris' sports fandom, and finding the time to watch sports.

9 episodes