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40 UNDER 40: Making the Market

Erica Kosemund, Director of Marketing Operations, Chickasaw Nation

40 UNDER 40: Making the Market

Once people know you are there to see them succeed, it changes the context of how you do business,” says Erica Kosemund, director of marketing operations for the Chickasaw Nation.

And it’s that insight and wisdom beyond her years which underscores why Kosemund was chosen for the 2016 Class of “40 Under 40” emerging leaders.

Now responsible for all daily operations of the marketing department, Kosemund worked her way up through the ranks, starting as event coordinator for Riverwind Casino in Norman, Oklahoma. She moved through positions as player analysis supervisor and promotions coordinator for the casino, part of the Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce.

Most recently, Kosemund was client resources manager for WinStar World Casino and Resort, Riverwind Casino, Newcastle Casino, Bedré Fine Chocolate, boutique hotels, retail facilities and small business ventures and vendors. She assumed her current position in June, and works in the marketing division that serves all commercial properties, including gaming, for the Chickasaw Nation.

Kosemund says she started out with a thirst for the entertainment and marketing industries. But even more, she says, “I wanted to work in a fast-paced, exciting environment where I felt I was making a difference.”

Now, Kosemund believes that there is “nothing more fitting” than working in the tribal gaming industry.

“Working in the gaming industry helped me better understand who we are, and how we serve Chickasaw citizens,” she says. “That experience opened my eyes and encouraged me to do even more.”

Her mentors include her parents, whom Kosemund cites as providing the example of hard work, humility and perseverance. To help her understand what it takes to succeed, Kosemund explains that they “taught me through actions, not words.”

She also identifies many others who have helped, including her current supervisor, Andrea Horner, executive officer of marketing; a friend and coach, Dr. Karen Goodnight; and two of her former supervisors, general managers Jack Parkinson of Riverwind Casino and Wayne McCormick of WinStar World Casino and Resort.

Kosemund commends the Chickasaw Nation as a very progressive tribe.

“We have been very fortunate to have longstanding visionary leadership within our tribal government,” she says. “We are a leader in tribal gaming nationwide, and one of the largest employers in the state of Oklahoma. We continue to expand and diversify our properties and products.”

In all, says Kosemund, “What I’ve learned is that the relationships you form and the bond you make is the glue that holds projects and people together. Whether it is the trust your team places in your ability to lead or a new relationship you foster, the way you work with people is the foundation of what we do. To do that well is to understand how each person likes to be communicated with.”

She believes opportunities are there for her and others. “The future is bright; women in gaming are accepted and have a seat at the table. I feel like we are just getting started with the great endeavors we have ahead. I want to be able to mentor those people with an interest in gaming just as I have been mentored, and work together through innovation and hard work to be the future of the industry. ”

Her advice for others getting started in gaming: “Do your role, no matter the title, to the best of your ability, and give them more than they expect.”

A marketing veteran also based in Las Vegas, Carolan Pepin has been working with companies from beyond the U.S. since her introduction to international business in Chicago with the Japanese conglomerate Panasonic. After being recruited to the gaming industry in 1996, Pepin worked for Aristocrat, Sigma Game and Cyberview Technology. Most recently, she has focused on helping an East European gaming manufacturer with its expansion into the American markets. Pepin can be reached via [email protected].