Lucy Chow is focused on the innovation space, both in terms of supporting founders and as an investor. She was recently recognized by Arabian Business as one of 50 Inspiring Female Business Leaders 2023. She is pleased to be an Ambassador for Women In Games (WIGJ) and her book, “Changing the Game: Discover How Esports and Gaming are Redefining Business, Careers, Education and the Future,” was released in October 2022.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Lucy shared her professional journey, personal role models, significant career achievements, the secret mantra behind her success, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Lucy, how did you find your start in the industry, and how did you arrive at your current position?
I spent 15 years in banking/financial services and a decade ago, I helped to co-found an angel network focused on investing in female founders. Hence now, I am known as one of the “OG” investors in the UAE. I have always been an advocate and capacity builder focused on digital transformation as it applies to businesses, as well as the education sector. I started as an angel investor and today I represent the World Business Angels Investment Forum, holding three roles. Because the WBAF is an affiliated partner with the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, I am in an advocating role. Advocating for more people to think about investing in businesses/startups. Entrepreneurs are the bedrock of every nation’s economy. Without funding, they never flourish, and economies never grow. And naturally no matter what role I hold, in whatever organization – I am promoting women. Whether it is more funding for female entrepreneurs or more women in the C Suite or Boardroom – that is a constant message of mine. Which naturally leads me to my book. The content is highly relevant to investors. If you are focused on the future of work, then the gaming sector needs to be supported. The growth and opportunities are vast. I also include the opportunities for women in this sector. There is an entire section focused on ‘Women in Games.’ Over time, I have been fortunate enough to build a reputation as a subject matter expert in female advocacy, angel investing and the importance of embracing new technologies.
Working in a historically male-dominated industry, what has been your journey breaking down barriers and stepping into leadership roles?
As a businesswoman, unfortunately I have lived the inequality. I understand it is pervasive. And even though we are living in 2023, there is gender inequality in almost every sector and field you name. Whether it was in banking (which is where I started) and/or becoming an investor I don’t really focus on the fact that I am a woman. I just plow ahead. Obviously, I have been fortunate to have people that support me in whatever I put my mind to. My father is still my biggest cheerleader. My husband, my son. I am very fortunate to know men and women that believe in what I can bring to the table. Whatever that table may look like. I talk about imposter syndrome and how that is still there for me sometimes. If someone offers an opportunity, but I have self-doubt, I still push through it.
You are the Author of “Changing the Game: Discover how Esports and Gaming are Redefining Business, Careers, Education and the Future.” Can you please share the major takeaways from this book?
My book ‘Changing the Game’ was motivated entirely by my desire to take the stigma out of gaming/esports. It is an industry that cannot and should not be ignored by any business leader, educator, investor, or parent. Gaming is now a bigger industry than movies and sports combined. Advances in gaming technology are set to offer gamers more immersive gameplay than ever before. The metaverse and virtual reality will be a driving force of growth for the gaming industry, and I believe it is also a sector deeply tied to the future of work. In fact, another point of the book is to highlight that a myriad of skillsets is required in this industry. Anyone can find a role for themselves in the gaming/esports sector.
After reading chapters from 38 contributors ranging from psychologists, educators, entrepreneurs to students, you will discover the impact eSports has had on the business world and how mainstream it has become. From legal firms specializing in gaming, to traditional brands sponsoring gaming/eSports tournaments. This is no longer a niche industry. It is the workplace of the future.
The gaming industry is evolving constantly, what keeps you at the forefront of the trends?
Because we have been experiencing ‘megatrends’, like climate change and AI. These tsunamis of change come from different directions and create unpredictability for both people and institutions. Therefore, we need to design and prepare for constantly changing conditions. I embrace what I do not know. As a business person, we should not focus on just one-time reskilling, but continuous reskilling. For example, artificial intelligence and automation, two tech innovations poised to dominate in the future of work, we all need to be open to understanding better. I am currently enrolled in the SheFi 13-week program, which provides women with a deep understanding of the Web3 and crypto ecosystem. The only way to stay on top of evolving trends is to stay on top of evolving trends. 😊
Who or what inspires you and why?
My parents, who immigrated to Canada. I am the first generation on both sides of my family to attend university. We lived very frugally growing up, but I didn’t realize the full extent of my parents’ sacrifice until I started my first job out of university. My Dad revealed to me that my very small annual salary was more than he had ever made in a year, ever. And he raised three kids and single handedly sponsored more than 10 family members to become Canadian citizens over the years. That was one of my big ‘aha’ moments. How hard he worked to provide for his family.
What do you think is the biggest barrier for women in the industry, today? How do you think this barrier can be overcome?
Let’s first look at the evolution of games themselves. The movement away from objectification and damsels-in-distress stereotypes that alienated women from gaming in past decades is one factor. A barrier as women felt intimidated and singled out. However, importantly, the industry itself is becoming more inclusive. For example, companies such as Ubisoft, have been announcing their appointment of senior leaders in diversity and inclusion roles to accelerate their culture shift. From an educational perspective, there is a movement to encourage more girls to take STEM and STEAM courses. All these factors are positive indicators in society that it is fine to be a girl and to game and/or consider the industry as a viable career choice!
You have been a recipient of prestigious awards and accolades over the years. What is the secret mantra behind your success?
As an investor, I am always looking for ideas that are disruptive and by providing startup capital, I am actively supporting innovation and innovators. Furthermore, I am a ‘friend to the new.’ For example, by writing a book focused on the gaming and esports sector, I am shining a light on how innovation surrounds us and importantly, that all business leaders need to be aware of how a thriving sector, such as games, can impact us. Always stay curious.
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career, so far?
If I can influence, or somehow encourage someone to make a positive life change then that to me is significant. For example, a fabulous Canadian female entrepreneur said she heard me speak in a webinar and was inspired to uproot from Canada and relocate to Dubai. She told me this the first week she arrived in Dubai. Today she is running a thriving business. She designs and creates innovative growing towers using aeroponic systems. Providing entrepreneurs and farmers an aeroponic turnkey solution to grow fruits & vegetables indoors and outdoors. I am not setting out to be a role model to anyone, but if I can impact a student, entrepreneur or whomever – if I have somehow made a connection, that is a huge win for me!
What does the future of gaming look like to you in the next 5 years?
I have predicted that in the gaming/esports sector we can expect to see tourism developing around this sector. This is happening in various parts of the world already, such as Busan in Korea. But we can also expect to see esports hotels. I predict that may happen first in the Middle East.
What advice would you give to others who are just starting out in this industry?
We are fortunate to be able to access so much via podcasts, newsletters and social media. So firstly, connect with those who may be of help via LinkedIn. Subscribe to relevant newsletters and podcasts. Join communities such as Women In Games, Games for Good, and specific Discord and Streamer groups. Start networking and making a connection with people in the industry. Communities such as SheFi are all about promoting students who have taken their course and posting lots and lots of job opportunities in the Web3 space.