Robert Russell has committed the majority of his professional career to gaming, earning him nearly two decades expertise and experience that rivals industry peers many years his senior.
A partner with Michigan-based Regulatory Management Consultants (RMC), this 39-year-old veteran leads government and private-sector initiatives focusing on compliance, licensing, management, legislative and lobbying efforts specific to the casino industry.
Russell says 16 words of advice offered early on in his career helped him realize the importance of quickly establishing his professional path: “Be prepared to give up your 20s in order to enjoy the rest of your life,” he recalls. “I took it to heart. Staying committed to my career and the tasks in front of me for the last two decades proved fruitful, and it is a piece of advice I continue to share with others.”
Just two years out of college and recognizing the opportunity related to the approval of gaming in Michigan, Russell helped launch the Detroit/Windsor Casino Management Association in 1999 to support the newly developed casino market in the state. Under his leadership, the association provided over 100 educational workshops and afforded thousands of members new to the industry the opportunity to learn about the dynamic aspects of gaming. Of equal importance, it helped Russell develop relationships with key industry executives relocating from such jurisdictions as Nevada and New Jersey that he still maintains.
“I met so many individuals who took time to attend our events that I continue to work with today, either in support of their professional roles or as RMC clients,” Russell says.
Russell is quick to credit a number of key mentors that provided him with guidance and direction throughout his career. “Three individuals that are of specific note are David Waddell, with whom I began working with in 1995 and continue to this day; David Schugar, who is a present business partner and who provided guidance on the formation of the Casino Management Association; and Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, who had faith in me at a young age. These individuals opened a number of doors for me.”
Acknowledging the impact that his mentors had on his own trajectory, Russell now commits himself and his firm to helping other emerging leaders that he works with.
“I make it a priority to provide opportunities for my young colleagues to encourage them to make independent decisions and support them even when the outcome is not always perfect,” Russell says. “Without the opportunity to succeed on one’s own, and experiencing the inevitable failures along the way, people are prevented from finding their greatest talents.
“RMC has a long-term strategy of training and mentoring the next generation of gaming professionals. We frequently involve young staff in meetings, hearings and projects with a team approach emphasizing a knowledge base that benefits clients through cost savings and efficiencies.”
Regardless of a professional’s age, Russell emphasizes the importance of keeping balance between career and life.
“I had the opportunity to learn from parents and other family members at an early age that equally valuing professional and personal commitments is extremely important as life evolves,” he says. “Helping those around you, building a strong family foundation and staying committed to one’s goals, and having the willingness to take a risk on occasion, are a few items that are keys to my success.”