Aristocrat’s Promising New Leadership—Atul Bali

Where some see challenges and hardships, others see potential and opportunities. Newly appointed Aristocrat Americas President Atul Bali keeps his mind set on the latter, and he plans to use his positive outlook to continue to rocket the already-proven company to the top.

In May 2012, Aristocrat Leisure Limited announced that Bali would be succeeding Nick Khin as president of Aristocrat Americas. Shortly thereafter, Bali made his debut at Aristocrat’s Oasis 360™ Summit at Ameristar St. Charles in Missouri in July.

Bali comes to Aristocrat from the XEN Group, where he held the position of CEO since 2010 and oversaw the expansion of the group’s portfolio of social media, data technology, online gaming and ecommerce businesses. Prior to that, he held leadership positions at Grupo Lottomatica, including president of the GTECH G2 division and group SVP for corporate development and strategy. He began his career with KPMG in the U.K., and recently moved to Las Vegas to begin working with Aristocrat.

Bali brings vast expertise to the table as an executive at Aristocrat, and says he will use his background in technology, data usage, analytics, and the like. to advance certain aspects of the company. “Whether it’s in game content or distribution environment, lotteries manufacturers tend to be very focused on distribution and casino operators want strong content,” Bali said. “I think online gaming has a little bit of both. I have definitive perspectives on distribution and content in the evolution of technology, and within different regulatory frameworks, given that I have some experience working within a number of different jurisdictions.”

His extensive background is a perfect fit for a company looking to further its online and systems efforts. “We are excited about Atul joining Aristocrat,” said Seamus McGill, COO for the Americas. “He brings valuable knowledge through his online gaming background, and we look forward to his contributions to our company’s vision going forward.”

Bali’s unique background and upbringing lend a perspective that not many people have. He was born and raised in London, and went to school in India from ages 12-18. His experience at that boarding school in India, he says, ended up being a hugely successful part of his life, and he maintains close relationships with people from that time. It was then that his global travels began, as he ended up living in several different countries. “Given my personal background, I have an interesting perspective on differences in culture, attitudes and on how you get things done. Having those different perspectives in a global company is useful,” he said.

He’ll use that background to tackle some of the common challenges in today’s gaming industry. “We’re still in the middle of a recession, and some may call it a depression,” he said. “There’s a lot of talk about coming out of the recession, and I don’t necessarily see this happening particularly quickly. We have to create opportunities within the environment, in terms of market structural change. We need to make sure we’re ready for those opportunities from an internal structure perspective.”

“Apart from the economic perspective, there are the obvious technological challenges,” he continues. “We need be sure that given the regulatory environment that we work in, we are constantly keeping up to date with the newest technology. It’s a necessity that we’re very focused on and I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it.”

Challenge is one of the main motivating factors in Bali’s work ethic, which will be beneficial when considering the overshadowing economic hardships in the industry. “I get very energized by seeing an opportunity, the more complex the challenge and problem of achieving the opportunity always gets my juices flowing.”

Bali says he has always known of Aristocrat, since he had been in the industry, and had several interactions with the company while he was with GTECH G2. He immediately had a connection with the executives at Aristocrat, and saw great potential with the company.

“Our business in the Americas is fundamentally founded on a strong business base of player-favorite games and our award-winning Oasis 360 system,” Bali said. “We are now delivering game content in many different formats: traditional gaming device, mobile apps or online gaming, such as in our online casinos for Maryland Live! Casino. On the systems side, as we have proven to the industry throughout North America, our product is evolving rapidly, and I like to think that it’s evolving faster than any other company. And there is great opportunity for Oasis 360 beyond providing additional features and functions, to also potentially provide certain types of services around these products, especially as we start thinking about social gaming and looking into different types of online environments.”

Aristocrat boasts more than 50 years in the industry and employs more than 2,000 staff globally. Bali intends to focus on relationships with both these employees and the company’s customers. “People believe that when they buy Aristocrat, that we always deliver,” he said. “I see myself ultimately making sure that we deliver on that brand promise.”

Besides creating and maintaining those relationships, Bali says his other goals at Aristocrat include hitting financial targets and continuing to learn as much about the business and company as possible.

Throughout his professional career, he says that one trait he’s always strived to maintain is fairness. “When I die, I want them to write on my tombstone that I was always fair,” he said. “In business I always try to be extremely fair, and that’s something I learned at a young age from my father. He was a great role model for us growing up. Particularly around values, fairness, loyalty integrity, displaying affection, and not being reserved about it. He’s been a great teacher and friend.”

Raising his children (ages 10, 7 and 2) in that same manner is also important to Bali. “If I had to define my ambition in life, it would be for my children to look back in life and say they had a great childhood.”

A few other fun facts about Bali include that he’s a self-proclaimed terrible poker player, isn’t on Facebook and used to skydive in college. All in all, Bali is a man of great character and ambition, and he is sure to impress the industry in his new position with Aristocrat.

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