10 Women Rising in Gaming
Hometown: Las Vegas
Current position: Corporate VP of Business Intelligence and IT Program Management at Penn Entertainment
First position in the gaming industry: I came over into gaming about seven years ago. Growing up in Vegas, you always heard it was best to steer clear from jobs in gaming and hospitality, but I wanted a larger challenge, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I started at Pinnacle Entertainment, leading corporate business intelligence. It’s been a wild ride ever since.
What do you like about working in gaming?
It’s probably the breadth of the industry and where it’s going. Gaming and entertainment is just a massive landscape of information, different customer bases and overall services. The amount of innovation and transformation is astounding in an industry that has felt stagnant for decades. It’s an exciting time to be here and being a part of the change is really meaningful to me personally.
Did anything surprise you about the industry when you first started?
What didn’t surprise me is more like it?! This industry has a wealth of untapped potential outsiders don’t see. I started asking a lot of questions, and the more I learned, the more the positive opportunities were so evident, right in front of everyone. The biggest surprise was actually the willingness of leadership to innovate and grow. There is a lot of historical risk to change when you have a lucrative business that’s been financially successful for years, but I was behind anyone willing to step up and support real change.
Were you familiar with gambling before landing a job in the industry? What were your thoughts about it before starting to work in gaming? Has your impression of the industry changed at all?
Growing up in sin city tends to moot you to the glitz and glamor of it all. As a kid growing up on the East Side of Vegas, I knew the “industry” before I even stepped foot in my first casino. I knew my dad liked to slip $20 in the slot machine every Sunday on our way out of the grocery store. I knew my friend’s parents worked hard for their tourist tips and all the best parties in Vegas were “industry” after parties where casino employees really blew off steam. What I didn’t realize until being behind the curtain is that the casino industry isn’t just a giant machine, it’s an amazingly curated logistical operation. When I think of the industry now, I see the New York subway map where there are so many different operational lines running at the same time to produce the most efficient, customer-focused service. Between casino operations, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, marketing, digital, etc. this industry is a well-oiled machine most people don’t realize is running behind the glitzy curtain they see.
Did you apply for work in other industries? Do you think it was easier to find a job in gaming than other career paths?
As a twenty-something earlier in my technical career, I thought I would run the gamut of working through the Google and Amazon goliaths of my day. After a few years working at a start-up and getting the opportunity to try so many different aspects of a real business, I realized I didn’t want to be stuck in one job for one technology platform forever. I wanted to work with different kinds of people and have opportunities in a larger forum. I applied for a few different business areas but the opportunities that gaming brought to the table always seemed to win. Big opportunity, big challenges to solves, big data, and the opportunity to do that all from the mecca of my hometown. I don’t think it’s difficult to find a job in gaming, but you need to be ready to be flexible and get comfortable with being uncomfortable to make it a successful career.
Can you envision making a career in the gaming industry? Do you think there’s a long-term career path for you? What are your long-term goals?
This is an industry that once you invest yourself, you can really go places. Over the last seven years, I’ve built an amazing network of colleagues, mentors, and industry connections. Being engaged with organizations like Global Gaming Women have helped me realize that gaming isn’t just the company or casino you work at, it’s a tight-knit family of thousands of professionals across the world. I’m eager to continue to be a part of our industry transformation and hope to be part of the new generation of female industry leaders that continue to blaze the trail so many astounding women before me began.