Lotto New Zealand CEO Chris Lyman is thrilled each time someone wins the lottery. “You almost feel like you’ve won yourself,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “It’s so invigorating for the team here when we have big winners and they come into the office. We’re really proud of that. It’s just an amazing experience to see that you’re changing people’s lives.”
Chris remembers a few years ago when he knocked on a winner’s door in Christchurch and personally told them that they’d won NZ$26 million. “I’ve had the privilege of experiencing that moment when somebody realises that they’ve won the money and I’ve seen their imagination unfold over the next few hours or the next few days thinking about how they’re going to spend it,” he continues, adding that he sometimes follows up with winners. “I regularly catch up with the individual who won the NZ$26 million and have dinner with them when they’re up in Auckland.”
Some of the winners tell the company what they intend do with the cash. “When we meet them, it’s at the early stages of them thinking about what they’re going to do with the money,” Chris explains. “Everybody’s got their own dreams. And what we’re trying to do is enable people to fulfil some of them. They tend to be about helping family and friends, travelling, giving to charities or buying a house.”
Chris has been with Lotto New Zealand for 16 years, after having moved from the UK. He started in sales before rising through the ranks to Chief Operating Officer and finally CEO earlier this year. His main priority since becoming CEO has been to make sure the company has a plan to invest in technology.
“It’s just an amazing experience to see that you’re changing people’s lives.”
“It’s making sure our core systems are sound and that they meet the integrity needs of the business,” says Chris, “but at the same time, looking to invest in a new digital platform that will enable us to deliver a much more compelling experience for our customers. We’re investing in making data more core to our business. We’ve invested in a data analytics team so that we can house all that internally. We’re also looking at how we bring the best of digital to our retail customers so that we deliver a true omnichannel experience.”
The digital landscape has been shifting how the company achieves its sales. Chris highlights that 18% of the company’s total sales now come through its online channels, which is around 28% higher than last year. “Our growth continues to come from the digital player base,” he says. “So we need to keep building that player base up and making sure we deliver outstanding experiences for our players.”
“Strategy is about what you choose not to do, as much as it is about what you.”
Another way Lotto New Zealand ensures its prosperity is through the way it upholds its relationships with its key partners such as Datacom, Retail Dimension and PHD New Zealand. “We have longstanding relationships with some really good partners that support us along the way,” Chris says. “They keep us fresh as well, and keep reinvigorating the business with new ideas.
“We have a lot of people from our key partners based in our office, and we make sure we’re very open with them and bring them into the business so that they’re across everything we’re doing. And it’s about making it a real partnership as opposed to a supplier agreement. That’s the crucial difference for us.”
Lotto New Zealand is also very big on its efforts to support the community, as Chris says, “We’re incredibly proud of what we do because every dollar we make goes back to New Zealand communities. We made over NZ$275 million in profit last year and that goes back to around 3,000 different community groups and organisations around the country. We provide support for New Zealand sportspeople, artists and filmmakers, because a set amount of the dollars goes to Sport New Zealand, Creative New Zealand, and the New Zealand Film Commission.
“PHD NZ has enjoyed partnering with Lotto NZ for 14 years. Lotto NZ has constantly evolved to suit the changing demands of its customers. While continuously driving innovation, being of service to New Zealand communities remains at the heart of what it does.” – Lee-Ann Morris, Managing Director, PHD NZ
“Most businesses are trying to find that reason for being and project that to their customers. But for us, our reason for being is very clear and that’s to provide essential funding to all of those communities and organisations that need it.”