As GGW’s new president, Lauren Bates plans to continue organization’s growth

January 2, 2023 1:00 PM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
January 2, 2023 1:00 PM

When Lauren Bates joined Global Gaming Women in 2017, the organization was an outlier. Advocacy groups for women in the gaming industry were rare. But Bates soon realized that GGW’s programming and mentorships provided the tools and support she’d long sought.

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“It was like all of a sudden, the blinders came off and having an immediate sense of community and support,” says Bates, who Jan. 1 starts a two-year term as the organization’s new president. “It truly changed the trajectory of my career. It felt like all of a sudden, I was able to be my best self. It was a very career-changing moment for me.”

Bates started working for Konami Gaming after graduating from Ohio State University in 2006, rising to the position of vice president sales-games. She became a GGW board member in 2019.

According to outgoing president Cassie Stratford, Bates’s impact was immediate. Stratford says that when GGW was considering a vice president during her tenure, Bates impressed her as having the right worth ethic and skills.

“She’s got this incredible get-it-done attitude and I admired that from the minute I met her,” Stratford says. “I thought, gosh, we would make such a great team. She was newer to the organization, but you could see the potential in her. You could see what she’d achieved in her day-to-day work and to be able to bring that energy to GGW, I thought it would be really special.”

As Bates started to get more involved in GGW, her leadership and professional skills developed. Notably, GGW’s Lean In moderator training was instrumental in her advancement and the way she approached being a manager.

“The saying goes, ‘You’re not the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side,’” Bates says. “That has stayed with me my entire career. It also has impacted my leadership and management style. It’s a really cool way of looking at leadership. You’re not there to be the sage on the stage and tell people what to do. You’re the guide on the side. You’re there to help and contribute. You’re there to work alongside your team.”

Peter Arceo, the chief gaming officer for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, says Bates’s work with GGW, and Konami, has been impactful.

“Her dedication to helping others succeed and reach their full potential is one of the many reasons why I always enjoy working together with her on projects,” Arceo said via email. “Her contributions will help the gaming industry continue to prosper for many years to come.”

Bates membership in GGW tracks a period of unprecedented growth for the organization. Her initial years were during a period when GGW was striving for sustainability. When the pandemic struck, the organization marshaled its forces to make sure members, and GGW itself, could cope with COVID.

During Bates’s vice presidency, GGW moved to a new office, hired two full-time employees, and rebranded its assets and logos.

As president, Bates wants to continue DEI initiatives, publish an impact and sustainability report, and leverage better engagement with sponsors and members to ensure that GGW is providing value and meaningful partnerships. A new mentorship program will be launched in 2024, as will a partnership with Harvard for online content and certifications.

“Cassie (Stratford) set up the organization for incredible success moving forward,” Bates says. “For me, the focus is growth. We have the foundation, we’re sustainable, we’ve got the tools, and now, we’re growing. Not only are we growing geographically, but in our programming.”

Konami President and CEO Steve Sutherland worked with Bates for 17 years and appreciates her “exceptional career growth.”

“Highly principled, tenacious, and committed to serve, Lauren’s expanded leadership with the Global Gaming Women organization will drive even greater opportunities to current members, to our industry’s future workforce, and to all those she comes in contact through her influential reach and professional journey,” Sutherland says.