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article imageQ&A: The path to becoming a CEO in the digital age Special

By Tim Sandle     Feb 28, 2020 in Business
Most businesses are going through major change and disruption, recognizing the need to be data driven and becoming absorbed into digital transformation projects. Kate Gorman, CEO of Fort Mason Games provides advice for the business sector.
Digital transformation is more than technology, it is about business transformation, requiring a new customer and data driven focus, changes to practices, and a cultural shift. This is in addition to the use of digital platforms. The process of change is haphazard and presents many challenges to businesses, resulting in a fair proportion of digital transformation initiatives being 'false starts'.
One of the best ways for businesses to learn, especially aspirant CEOs, is to listen to the advice of others. In conversation with Digital Journal, Kate Gorman, CEO of Fort Mason Games describes her career and the main challenges she has face when embarking on the digital transformation process.
Digital Journal: How are the demographics of CEOs changing?
Kate Gorman: We are seeing more and more female CEOs lead companies. Moreover, in Silicon Valley, where my company, Fort Mason Games, is located, we are seeing more Millennial CEOs as more young, aspiring entrepreneurs are opting to start their own businesses rather than work for established companies.
DJ: What was your path to become CEO of Fort Mason Games?
Gorman: I’ve always been a fan of games, and I studied Computer Science at Berkeley with the idea that some day, I’d like to start my own game studio. My dream was to start my own gaming company to make games with a female audience in mind. While women make up half of the population, few mobile games are designed with a female audience in mind. I worked for a top gaming company, Zynga, and learned a lot about how games are made and managed. While I was at Zynga, I rose up to become the highest ranking female in the product organization. I’ve always been the type of person who is not afraid of a challenge. So, I decided in my 20’s to leave Zynga and start my own gaming company - Fort Mason Games, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve been very happy with my decision. I was even awarded Forbes 30 Under 30 in Gaming.
DJ: What challenges did you face on this journey?
Gorman: I faced challenges typical for any CEO starting a new venture. I faced the challenge of finding a great team, finding affordable office space, setting up business analytics systems, and bringing a product to market. However, at each step of the way, I found the process exciting because there were always new things to be learned, and new opportunities to see how the market responds to your new mobile game. One of our philosophies that has helped us be successful is to test new ideas and innovate quickly. Now we have several games in the App stores. One of our most successful games, Lucky Scratch, was created as part of a quick testing process to see if the market would like the concept, and it did!
DJ: How important is for CEOs to be innovative?
Gorman: It’s extremely important. To have a break-out success in the market requires an eye for what consumers may want that they have never heard about. Look at CEOs like Elon Musk and others who had a vision for something like electric cars that no consumers had ever considered in the past. I’ve brought this same type of innovation to the mobile gaming space making games for everyone, but also games that are designed to especially delight female players.
DJ: How important is digital transformation for businesses?
I feel digital transformation is very important for business. Most consumers have smartphones. So, now, everyone is carrying around small computers with them wherever they go. Businesses that embrace this and create digital opportunities will succeed whether these opportunities for brand engagement are delivered via social media, website, or apps. It’s where today’s consumers are. Interestingly, having good digital analytics and measurement systems are also important for all businesses. You need to know your numbers every day to know if what your company is doing is effective.
DJ: What are your top tips for millennials who want to found their own companies?
Gorman: Tip 1: Don’t be afraid. Do it! Seriously, fear holds so many people back from trying new things that could be great for them. I played Volleyball in college, and one thing I learned from sports is that you don’t make the shot you never take. So, don’t be timid. If you try and fail, you learn new things. It’s good to try this type of business venture before you have the added responsibilities of parenthood.
Tip 2: Hire the best people. It’s your team that will make you successful. Don’t cut corners and try to find the most inexpensive people. It’s far better to have a smaller team of great people than a larger team of mediocre people.
Tip 3: Build a concept and see if it works in the market before you look for funding. Anyone can have an idea on paper, but having an actual working product with a real market that loves it, and that is rapidly growing and generating revenue is a business that investors love to fund.
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