ESL UK business development manager and stage host Caroline Oakes has been named Esports Woman of the Year at the 2018 MCV Women in Games Awards.
She was nominated alongside ESL's Heather Dower, GAME/Belong's Mary Antieul, admin/tournament manager Jasmine Kanuga, Swipe Right PR's Kirsty Endfield and HP OMEN's Yvonne Hobden in this year's Esports Woman of the Year shortlist.
On winning, Caroline told Esports News UK: "Honestly I was really surprised, there are so many talented people working in this industry - I didn’t expect to win. It really means a lot that people believe in me and nominated me for it.
"Although esports has been thriving for so many years, there is still so much to be defined and it’s the incredible people working in this industry that are helping to do that."
Caroline first joined ESL and the esports industry back in October 2016, and has worked her way up from business development intern to business development associate and stage host, crossing over into the world of esports presenting. She has hosted ESL Premiership finals, the Digital Schoolhouse finals, Battle of the Brands and more.
"I think the fact I’ve only been working in esports for a year and a half goes to show that everyone who is working in this industry is truly impacting and shaping the way it grows," Caroline added.
"As a biz dev manager, helping brands enter the esports space in a creative way is super rewarding. On the flipside, stage hosting for me was something I always wanted to do - to get up in front of an audience and share that passion of gaming with them."
Caroline Oakes, ESL
"It’s been incredible to have been able to develop myself over the course of 1.5 years from an intern to a business development manager and now to stage hosting too.
"As a biz dev manager, helping brands enter the esports space in a creative way that works for them and our audience is super rewarding as that’s how we continue to grow and invest in the industry.
"On the flipside, stage hosting for me was something I always wanted to do, to get up in front of an audience and share that passion of gaming with them and with the players on stage. Helping them share their stories and their incredible gaming moments is really what esports is about. Getting to do both of these things together allows me to see and be part of both sides of the esports world, and I feel really lucky to do so."
Finally, what advice would Caroline give to those who are looking to get into esports and grow their career?
She explained: "I’m often asked how do people get into esports, and I think the biggest thing is to get experience in any way you can, either in this industry or out of it - really put yourself out there and build that network.
"This industry is full of opportunity but you have to work hard and really push yourself to get where you want to be.
"Helping out at events and getting to know the people in this industry will serve you well! But most importantly, don’t give up – there’s a lot of people wanting to work in esports but if you’re determined and make yourself stand out, there may just be a place for you!"
You can see the full list of winners at the Women in Games Awards on MCV's Twitter page