Having come a long way from his home nation of South Africa, Mark Howell now calls Macau his home in his role as Head of Sales, Asia for TCSJOHNHUXLEY.
Ben Blaschke: Thanks for chatting with us Mark. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
Mark Howell: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and went to an all-boys school in Sandton called St David’s Marist Inanda which laid the foundations and contributed to my future substantially. I played a lot of sport at school and memories of that are some of my best growing up. As a result, I formed many great relationships and went on to do the same at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
BB: How did you come to work in the gaming industry?
MH: Straight out of University I worked in marketing at a local agency in Johannesburg until I was lucky enough to be given a position at a company called MP Gaming where I sold bill validators and slot machine parts. I worked for Markus Prader who taught me a great deal about the industry and laid the foundations for my future in gaming.
In 2013, the late John Whiskin offered me a sales position at the TCSJOHNHUXLEY Africa office where he trained and invested a lot of his time in me. As a result, I gained the experience and knowledge I needed to make the move to Asia in 2016, reporting to Rebecca Kingswell.
BB: What were the primary challenges you faced when you first moved to Macau?
MH: When I first arrived in Asia I was based in Singapore for roughly 18 months where it was an easier adjustment to the change in culture. I would regularly travel from Singapore to Macau so I gradually acquired a better understanding of the Macau market which prepared me for the move in December 2017.
BB: What does a normal work week look like for Mark Howell?
MH: My normal week is consistently focused on our customers. We operate in a wide variety of markets so a great deal of effort goes into understanding our customers’ businesses and their unique needs in a particular market. One of the highlights of working in the Asia-Pacific region is the exposure we get to these growing markets.
BB: What excites or interests you most about working in the gaming industry?
MH: Working in these markets can have an incredibly positive impact on you, both professionally and personally, when you go out there with the right attitude and really learn to enjoy the opportunity you’ve been given.
BB: What are the main challenges the gaming industry in Asia currently faces?
MH: I think the main challenge from a supplier’s perspective, not only in Asia, but globally, is keeping up with the rapid rate of advancing technology. Combined with the high demand for new and innovative solutions in increasingly regulated markets, of course, it creates a few challenges. However, this is a positive for the casino industry overall, it pushes us as suppliers to continually evolve or risk being left behind in the wake of our competitors. From the operator’s perspective, this level of competition continually pushing innovation is a huge benefit in terms of the products and solutions on offer. So it’s a challenging industry no doubt, but also a growing industry with huge opportunity.
BB: What do you miss most from home?
MH: The typical expat answer is my friends and family and I am no different, however, I’ll add one more … the golf courses!
BB: What do you do to relax in your spare time?
MH: I try switch off as much as possible when I’m not working, I still love to play a bit of sport in my spare time.
BB: You travel all around Asia on a regular basis in your role. Do you have a favorite destination?
MH: Yes, I don’t think many places around the world can beat Singapore. You arrive straight into the number one airport on the planet and the city never disappoints!
BB: Finally, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
MH: The gaming industry is one I thoroughly enjoy and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon, if ever! In 10 years’ time I hope all the hard work we are currently putting in at TCSJOHNHUXLEY gives us the results we want and materializes our vision of consistently being acknowledged as the number one supplier of gaming equipment in the world!