With a strong background in finance and drive for success to complement it, Clayton Vanderpool knows a thing or two about how to build a successful financial career in the gaming industry. As the vice president of Native American gaming at PNC Bank, he works with the economic development authorities of the sovereign nations navigating complex legal structures in order to lend capital to their gaming and leisure investments.
Starting out in his career, Vanderpool faced a number of challenges as one of the youngest people in his field at his company, and often found himself sitting in rooms filled with colleagues who had many more years of experience. He credits his success to always being well-organized, conducting solid research and taking time to develop his ideas.
“I have never met anyone who has regretted being over-prepared,” he says, “You have to have confidence, without arrogance or stubbornness, in your ideas and contributions, and the best way to accomplish that is to be well-prepared.”
Vanderpool’s success wasn’t achieved solely on the merits of his own hard work and dedication. He credits a number of people who have helped him along the way, including his parents, who helped him create a strong foundation for hard work, as well as his team leader at PNC Bank, Russ Liebetrau. There are challenges that arise when blending the fast-paced world of gaming and finance together, and Vanderpool has relied on Liebetrau’s guidance throughout the years to learn how to take a step back from the process and focus on the bigger picture.
“Russ has helped me learn how to evaluate a situation from both an analytical and strategic view, and then focus on the core challenge, while leaving ego and emotion out of the decision,” he says. “This approach, as hard as it can be some days, leads to better business decisions that stand the test of time.”
Along with his colleague, Vanderpool acknowledges the supportive work environment of PNC Bank overall, which has continually opened the door to new opportunities. He praises PNC’s training programs and well-conceived processes that allow for frequent interaction with senior management. Leveraging his education in earning an MBA, and combining it with his past experience lending to large corporate and middle-market customers, he has not only become a trusted adviser to his clients, but also a go-to person for day-to-day advice on capital raises, regulatory issues, expansion planning and finance—industry trends that regularly impact his clients’ business.
So what does Vanderpool see happening in the immediate future for the industry? A number of shifts and changing market dynamics that will have industry professionals rethinking the way they do business in the gaming industry. Although the U.S. economy has improved, consumer confidence still lags, and all the while, iGaming brews in the background as a potential beast that can revamp the business. These things, however difficult, are also opportunities.
As Vanderpool puts it, “All these variables will have a profound impact on the gaming market over the next few years and will force groups to become more innovative in their approach to growing their business. This is a challenging time brimming with great opportunity.”