We catch up with Sean McGlashan who relocated to Gibraltar 14 years ago and joined the online gaming industry….
By Amy Reyes
An old colleague of mine, Sean McGlashan came immediately to mind when I was asked to interview and write an article on someone who had relocated to Gibraltar and made a successful career within the Gaming Industry. I meet Sean in The Atlantic where after keeping me waiting for an hour he walked into the room looking as stylish and confident as ever and offering profuse apologies explaining that he had had an impromptu meeting at the end of the day. Of course, all traces of annoyance on my part immediately vanished – Sean has always been so disarming, genuine and friendly that I’d have happily waited a lot longer 😉
Sean and his wife, Enjerie, relocated to Gibraltar in 2003 when Enjerie was offered a transfer here from her position at the 888 offices in Antigua to the new Cassava offices in Gibraltar. Sean was ready for something different but says: ‘I wasn’t going to go to Europe without having a job – I wasn’t going to be a house husband! She’s not gonna be my sugar momma!’ So, they packed up and moved over to Gibraltar where Sean soon landed himself an MSR role at the same company and then quickly progressed into the promotions team.
As a self-confessed gambler already, Sean found the industry a great match for his personal interests and his skill sets – ‘I used to gamble – that helps! And I understand people and their mindsets.’ He remembers that at the time his colleagues shied away from the poker product – they understood the game but not how to market it to players. Sean saw this as a challenge, and not being one to enjoy being in the dark about something he made a mission of fact finding and improving his knowledge on the subject. He started playing a lot of live poker at halls in Spain and Gibraltar – talking to players and researching what gets them excited about playing. He says that ‘at the time 90% of the ideas I got were whilst sat in poker halls.’
This approach led to progression for not only the product but Sean’s career – 14 years later he is now 888’s Global VIP Poker Operations Manager. As Sean says, the key ingredients for a career in Marketing in the Gaming Industry consists of product knowledge (or a desire to learn it!), an understanding of sociology and psychology plus a bit of business acumen and an education in marketing. However, the thing that binds it all together is mostly knowing what you want! ‘That’s the part I always tell people, ‘what would you want if you were this particular person…?’ because we might not want the same things, but if I can figure out what you want then I am able to start, statistically filling some of the voids.’
When asking Sean about ‘home’ and the things he misses (apparently Thanksgiving comes top of that list) I realise I’m not altogether sure where he grew up… and I am enlightened thusly: born in Jamaica and raised there for the first 8 years of his life, he says that while he remembers more of his later childhood in New York City, it’s Jamaica his mind wanders back to when he reminisces. It was a safe, secure bubble of a society which he happily describes as a utopia; Saturday mornings were spent running into the woods with a gaggle of other kids, eating jackfruits and oranges and drinking from streams, older kids looking out for the little ones like they were blood relatives – even though they weren’t. With a big smile on his face he tells me that the village he grew up in reminds him of Gibraltar in a lot of ways – the safety, the community and the way every adult was your parent! He laughs as he says that he means everyone. He was raised to listen to every adult, man or woman, and they had as much authority as one’s own mother; even if they were a stranger to you. ‘And you could get your butt whooped by any of them – no issues. And it’s not like you can hide it ‘cause they’re gonna tell your parents and you might get your butt whooped again!’ He remembers being shocked by the difference at how kids spoke to their elders in NYC!
He draws a comparison between the safety and security of his village and Gibraltar and says, ‘This is probably why I value Gibraltar; because I grew up in a similar bubble’. He confesses ‘I would be grey now if I lived in New York with three kids – especially with two girls. I would worry all the time when they went outside. I worry now when we visit New York. Here in Gib I don’t worry as much.’
Sean has two daughters and a son; they are dancers, athletes and all round active kids! Life is never boring in the McGlashan household. They were all born here in Gibraltar and firmly consider themselves Gibraltarian – even though he says the family’s collective Spanish language skills leave a lot to be desired!
The girls are at a semi-professional level with their dance academy and they have represented Gibraltar at competitions and events in Italy, Croatia, Spain, Hungary, and the UK to name but a few! Sean thinks this is a huge plus point for life in Gibraltar – having the rest of Europe on your doorstep. ‘If they were in the US or the UK they would see other states or counties whereas now they are seeing other countries and cultures and meeting kids from Russia, Lithuania, France, Spain, Portugal you name it they’ve met other kids from there! They’ve become very cultural in that regard.’
When the glasses are empty and we are both talking about getting back to our respective children, Sean concludes by telling me he feels it has been a successful relocation – he confesses that even though swapping the busy hustle and bustle of NYC for the quiet calm of Gibraltar, took some adjusting to, he and his family love the place. He tells me he was very recently thinking this during a moment of reflection on beautiful Queensway Quay after having walked the Med Steps on the rock itself with his son. He talks with fondness about the beauty of some of the Spanish towns that many of the work force in Gibraltar commute from; places like Estepona, which he plans to make his retirement town one day – ‘Enjerie and I love Estepona; we went there our second year here and there was something about it – It has a warmth we both felt and looked at each other. It’s a really nice town.’
After talking about my own ‘retirement in Estepona’ plans and bemoaning the idea that it might never actually happen, Sean leaves me with a few parting words of advice that I’m going to try and remember: ‘It will come to fruition. Don’t introduce doubt into your plans’.