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Emily D. Swoboda

Q & A: Brian Hadfield

5 March 2008

Last week, CryptoLogic announced the sudden departure of CEO Javaid Aziz, who decided to retire from corporate life and spend more time with his family. In just under a year with the company, Aziz leaves behind big shoes to fill, having conquered a thorny market and consistently bringing the company financial success.

CryptoLogic appointed Brian Hadfield, who joined the company last year as a director, as the new CEO. Hadfield previously had a 21-year career at technology consulting firm Unisys Ltd., including five years as managing director of Unisys' U.K., Middle East, Africa and India operations.

IGN sat down with Hadfield to find out what it's going to take to fill such large shoes.

Q: How did you get into the Internet gambling industry?

A: While CryptoLogic became famous as one of the pioneers that created the I-gaming industry, we're really an outstanding software development company that happens to serve the I-gaming industry.

I think that's why I was approached to join CryptoLogic's board last year. They liked my background as a technology executive, my knowledge of software development, and my track record in building successful international businesses. The fact that I've been a member or chair of many corporate ethics committees is a nice bonus for a company that takes transparency and probity very seriously.

Q: From an industry perspective, last week's announcement was, to say the least, a surprise. What prepared you to step into that role?

A: I think the things that made me a good fit for the board in 2007 make me a good fit for the CEO's job in 2008.

First, there's my 21 years at Unisys, which included five years as managing director for U.K., Middle East, Africa and India. My team and I turned a technology company into a services-based company. We grew from 3,000 to 9,000 employees, and built a thriving billion-dollar organization.

But, it's not just about my background; it's also about my belief in CryptoLogic. This is a company with a rich history, fantastic fundamentals today, and a smart strategy for tomorrow.

Q: The announcement was made just shy of the CryptoLogic's year-end results, which appeared to be peculiar timing. Can you talk about that?

A: There's never an easy time for a successful executive to leave, but for my predecessor I think there was some logic to the timing: our board was meeting in Dublin and we had just concluded a very successful year with renewed profitability in Europe and new investments in Asia. To use a sports analogy, it's nice to leave when you're at the top of your game.

As for our year-end results, I fully expect that we will meet or exceed the earnings guidance we established for the fourth quarter. Certainly that's my approach to business: be clear about what you're going to do -- and then go out and do it.

Q: Today the company announced that it would actively seek more licensees in Europe . Does that mean the company is taking the focus off of Asia , where you have been highly aggressive and successful in the last year?

A: CryptoLogic will continue to be aggressive and successful in Asia -- while never taking our eyes off our core markets and blue-chip customers in Europe. I aim to add new licensees on both continents because thanks to CryptoLogic's robust, scalable technology platform, new licensee revenue goes straight to the bottom line.

Asia is critical to what I call CryptoLogic's "follow the sun" development strategy -- which means having development going on around the clock, around the world. This is a global company in a global market, and both Europe and Asia will be the markets of the future.

Q: What other changes are in store for CryptoLogic?

A: Because I believe CryptoLogic has the right strategy, I'm looking for evolution rather than revolution.

I want us to continue to lead the way in innovation. To broaden and deepen our relationships with the world's blue-chip gaming and entertainment brands. To keep diversifying into new territories and new products. And to make investments and acquisitions when we see value for our shareholders.

More than anything else, you'll also see me seek to inspire our team to focus relentlessly on the customer -- not just on the customer's satisfaction, but on the customer's experience. That will drive everything we do. We'll bring new offerings to market more quickly than ever before -- and you'll see CryptoLogic find more ways to "wow" every licensee and every player.

Q: What is your vision for the company?

A: I want CryptoLogic to be a vibrant, thriving example of a business that leads through innovation. A company that understands and commits itself to its market, its customers and its employees. A team of leaders known for doing what they set out to do.

I want CryptoLogic to play its own game -- watching our competition, but never worrying about them.

I want CryptoLogic to be imitated by competitors, embraced by customers and admired by players.

To quote Darwin, it's not about the survival of the fittest. It's not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent; it's the one most responsive to change. That's what I want CryptoLogic to be.

Can we do it? You bet. Look at our history. Look at our financials. Look at our game plan. If there were ever a time to see the proverbial glass as half-full, that time is now.

Q: When you are not running a major London-listed company, what do you like to do for fun?

A: I love horses, having been a competitive show jumper for many years. It's a passion I share with my teenage daughter. I am also a voracious reader -- anything and everything, as long as it looks interesting! And my other great interest is photography -- portraits, landscapes and wildlife. Perhaps I can bring a similarly keen eye to my new job. So far, I really like what I see.

Q & A: Brian Hadfield is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda