All-In on Digital Transformation

Cathryn Lai is bringing her experience harnessing technology for businesses to Northwestern Engineering's MEM program.

Cathryn Lai is betting students will love the new class she’ll be teaching in Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. 

Cathryn LaiLai, chief commercial officer (CCO) for sportsbook technology company OpenBet, will serve as adjunct lecturer for the course Product Management for Digital Transformation starting in January. She brings to the classroom nearly two decades of product management, development, and leadership experience.

“I’m so excited to join the MEM faculty and teach this course,” she said. “The exciting part of digital transformation is how organizations use it to completely evolve their day-to-day operations, engage with customers, drive innovation, and grow their business.” 

Digital technology is a key part of Lai’s job with OpenBet, which provides the products that underpin some of the largest online sports betting companies in the world, including FanDuel and DraftKings. She has been in her current position for two years and has a front-row seat for the ongoing boom in online sports wagering.

A Data Bridge Market Research analysis showed the global sports betting market was valued at $76.76 billion in 2021. With an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 10.26 percent through 2029, the value would jump to $167.66 billion by the end of the decade. 

“I love being in a fast-paced industry,” she said. “We have seen a surge of new movement in the US and Latin America regions, where they are quickly legalizing online sports betting. This means we are constantly chasing new market opportunities and keeping busy.”

The ability to chase those opportunities efficiently and effectively rests in part on OpenBet’s technology. In her role as CCO, Lai is responsible for finding new business opportunities, crafting deals, and launching new strategies in the marketplace. The customer-centered approach she has with digital transformation at OpenBet is something she hopes to showcase to her MEM students. 

“I love working with technology products and helping solve problems for our customers,” she said. “The structure of the course will be hands-on learning with a mix of project-related activities, as well as discussing real-life case studies of companies who have driven digital transformation initiatives.”

Her goal with her students is challenging yet clear: Develop critical and innovative thinkers who leave the MEM program prepared to identify opportunities where digital transformation could drive value for their company. 

“Digital transformation is something that I am very passionate about and have been fortunate to drive and support throughout my professional career,” she said. “I love seeing how digital technology and innovation can truly change an organization and their business.”

The ability to harness the power of digital transformation continues to separate great leaders from good ones, Lai said. Her ability to effectively teach those skills will be a differentiator for MEM students when they graduate, she believes. 

“I’m excited to meet and teach new students who I know will be future leaders, product innovators, and change agents,” she said. “I want them to become thought leaders to drive change in their new industries.”

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