Luciana Van Sickle’s position at Aristocrat Technologies presents her with all kinds of obstacles. As senior manager for purchasing and, before that, global strategic sourcing manager, she’s dealt with “trade wars, freight availability, dock strikes, global pandemics, inflation costs, supplier performance, commercial problems.”
The coronavirus pandemic, of course, brings its own challenges. With the shutdown of most gaming halls, casinos lacked the revenue stream to purchase new hardware, like slot machines.
“It’s my job to mitigate all our supply risks and have options to secure supplies while keeping costs down and quality high,” she says.
Van Sickle was born in Los Angeles and raised in Pico Riviera, L.A. County. She started working at 15, worked full-time after high school, went to junior college part-time, and got an associate degree in business administration. She married at 22, and had her first daughter a year later.
“Family life and responsibilities became my first priority,” she says. “College was last.” Another daughter arrived five years later, when the family moved to Las Vegas. That’s when Bally Technologies—later Scientific Games— recruited Van Sickle as a buyer.
“By the fifth year of my Bally tenure, I was promoted to senior buyer. My boss advised me if I was interested in advancement, I would need a business degree.”
She enrolled at the University of Phoenix in 2013 and graduated four years later with a bachelor of science in business management. With degree in hand and rave job performance reviews, Van Sickle joined Aristocrat in 2017. Today, she leads a team of six buyers.
“I source and introduce new product launches, then negotiate the commercial terms. In the gaming industry, this would be our slot machine,” she says.
Van Sickle credits her success to numerous mentors along the way, including Richard Ramonis, with whom she worked when he was vice president of procurement at Bally Technologies.
“He posed a challenge, set the bar, I achieved it, then he would raise the bar,” says Van Sickle. “Continuous improvement is one of my best skills. I can adapt to a vast amount of supply-chain challenges because of what he put me through.”
From Kurt Spencer, who led the hardware engineering team at Bally, “I learned how to read our specifications and understand how our products function to help me negotiate with our suppliers,” says Van Sickle. Spencer is now vice president of sales operations for Scientific Games.
Alex Singleton introduced Van Sickle to a large network of valuable sources. “He is kind and humble,” she says of Singleton, vice president of sales, IGM Solutions, “and he always took the time to explain manufacturing to me in my early career.”
And then there are her parents, Nabor and Yolanda Farias, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico 40 years ago. “My parents found a way to always work and get us what we needed however they knew how.”
Van Sickle was fortunate to have people who encouraged her in her life and career. For those who seek to follow in her footsteps, she has these words of encouragement: “Treat everyone fairly and kindly. The industry is small and everyone knows everyone. In gaming, we all have the same suppliers, some of the same leadership, the same friends.”