by Yvonne Yoong
In industry circles, Olivia Lee, 58, Business Development Director of Mega Fortris goes by the moniker Casino Queen. The reasons are pretty obvious — from the apparent ways she identifies with the characteristic deck of cards and money sign — even down to the clothes she wears and her grooming — think manicured nails (and shoes!) that she dons plus the prosperity symbols she poses with.
This Casino queen obviously walks her money talk right down to the last detail. On a recent visit to Melbourne, she happily posed besides a giant purse, denoting her affinity with money, after she paid a visit to a casino. Being involved in the casino business as far back as 20 years ago when a career in this industry was practically unheard of — especially for women — she’s been there and done that. Unfazed as to the intrigue arising from her involvement in the casino business, Olivia shrugs off the attention and considers it all in a day’s work.
On the contrary, she considers the move into the casino business as a natural progression from working as a remisier. In fact, she would not hesitate to encourage women to venture into the gaming and entertainment industry given that according to her, it is “very vibrant and offers plenty of opportunities to those who are passionate and enjoy travelling”. She is living proof of that, with her being bestowed with the inaugural Industry Icons award in 2021 in recognition of her immense contribution to the casino industry which was presented by Inside Asian Gaming, a premier industry media of the Asian IR gaming industry based in Macau.
Looking back, she is grateful that she went with her decision to pursue this unconventional career path after the opportunity had presented itself for her to be part of the expansion and growth of the company business offered to her by the Executive Director of Mega Fortis of which she gamely took up the offer. The timing was right as the stockbroking industry was facing a sunset situation then.
“Back in 2004 when I (first) stepped into the first casino in Macau, I fell in love with the casino, the people and the glitz and glamour of it (all). From then on, I never stopped travelling to casinos all around the world,” she shared.
Taking everything in her stride — and negative perception aside, having to compete with the stronger sex in an unconventional industry, she thrived. And in fact, if given half a chance, she affirmed that she would — in a heartbeat, relive it all over again. For her, her career love affair is an ongoing one. The high points of her casino career, she disclosed, were in 2010 till 2016, when “many casinos were opening non-stop, especially in Macau”.
“We had seen the peak. Fortunately, now, the market for this industry has revived and rebounded significantly after the hiatus. And, we will probably see the highs (all over) again and experience a better market,” she told The Peak.
Life In The Casino Lane
“When I first joined in, I fell in love with life in the casino business. I have my passion and love for it… And, I felt like I am as good as the men in this industry. In fact, I enjoy it so much. It is not that I need to work, but this business is part of my life. Despite being with her present company for almost a decade — Olivia states that she finds everyday an incredible joy to live with purpose. Everyday unfolds with her really looking forward to talking to her customers. In fact, she relishes being a partner to new casinos in terms of being a supplier to them.
Part of her unconventional job scope lies in her keeping a constant lookout for new casino springing up around the world.
“This is the love of my life. I will continue working for as long as possible and I have no intention to retire because I am passionate about this industry,” she added. These days, the Casino Queen has taken on meditation when she has the time to “go deeper inwardly” to discover her true self and her true love which is her divinity.
“Every one of us has a soul and we need to go deeper into silence with meditation for us to connect to our soul, and eventually to our divinity. From here, we can connect better with humanity and nature. And with this, we can enjoy our existence here on earth,” she said.
Launching The “Selling with Consciousness” book to share what she herself has discovered from her introspection journey, she launched her inaugural book entitled “Selling with Consciousness” based on the meditation which was inspired by Oprah Winfrey which has given her the change to focus on herself both in her personal and corporate life.
The book, launched in June, having brought about great changes, was “life- changing” for her which she hopes will inspire people in their journey towards awakening, self-realisation and self-love.
Which areas did you specialise in being in the casino industry?
I first started as sales director and focused my time with the company for the two very important products: one, being the shipping seal and the other, the casino products. We have, from two products — grown tremendously. Now, we can offer more than two items for table games and the slots department. The business in this division is very interesting and lucrative as we always have opportunities to work with many casinos globally – the existing ones for expansion, and especially the new ones that are opening and sprouting out year after year. Up to today, we are supplying to many casinos globally. The challenges we have is that we always have to lead the trend and provide the highest security for the peace of mind for our customers. We are always striving to be the best in the world and be as innovative as possible with the business development.
Are any one of your children keen to follow in your footsteps in the casino industry?
I have a 33-year old daughter and a son who is 23 years old. I wanted my daughter to follow in my footsteps, after her graduation with a double degree in animation and communication. Kimm was with Mega Fortris for three years handling sales and marketing together with me, especially concentrating in Korea and Japan as she speaks fluent Japanese. She was doing very well but she left to pursue her career now, which is more IT and digital-based with a company headquartered in the UK. She also spends her time on weekends providing free training and guidance to young people and students on how to set up business in the IT sector and is measuring her KPI of happiness here.
My son Alexandre is an aspiring neurosurgeon. Since high school he has been motivated by his biology teacher to be a doctor. He had a practical session one time when he had to dissect a rat and all its parts and organs were dissected nicely. Since then, he has never looked back although I have tried to change his mind about being a doctor. This year is his fifth and final year as a medical student. He looks forward to being a neurosurgeon and eventually to becoming a flying doctor.
Do you gamble since you are so heavily involved in the casino business?
No, I don’t gamble in my spare time. I only gamble to learn the games for my career, so that I have the knowledge about the games when talking to my customers.
What is your favourite quote?
Be passionate in everything you do, whether it is personal or business. We need to exude love and interest in everything we do.
What do you love most about the casino industry and are there any regrets?
None at all. In fact, I would say that this is really the ultimate industry and the love of my life. As such, I do not see myself retiring. I love travelling and meeting new customers while setting up casinos together through our supply. It is so fascinating to work with the casinos from a zero-base right up to the new property opening. The satisfaction is tremendous in witnessing the journey from zero to hero. And, I have witnessed so many beautiful casinos come to life!