A chance meeting with then-president of the Venetian Las Vegas, Rob Goldstein, launched the casino career of Nehme Abouzied. Goldstein invited Abouzeid, a recent MBA recipient, to join the company’s management team, and Abouzeid jumped at the chance.
“He wanted to bring on some outside experience—an outside lens—to bring a new outlook on things,” says Abouzeid.
He was soon working on organizing the company’s IT functions, particularly focused on getting systems up and running at the Macau properties of Las Vegas Sands.
“This gave me a unique ability to interact with many departments that a new hire would not ordinarily have contact with,” says Abouzeid. “So I quickly got a sense of how departments within the company worked together, and it was a great way to learn the business.”
Abouzeid also worked with the human resources department to develop an executive management-training program at the company.
“I worked with Bob Gerst, who was the vice president of HR at the time,” says Abouzeid, “to set up this training program. We wanted high-potential, young employees to take part. We benchmarked the competition, and I was the first to graduate from the program.”
Abouzeid says getting involved in projects that revamped the company’s IT and business systems was a crucial element of his success. “That really put me on the map internally as someone who could deal with finance as well as operations and strategy, and put them all together in a practical way,” he says.
In 2008, Abouzeid moved to the entertainment department of Las Vegas Sands. The company, he says, had never actively engaged in entertainment, preferring “four-wall” showrooms, which required little capital outlay or planning. Things changed at that time.
“I was put in charge of entertainment development and given responsibility for booking acts,” he says. “We booked everything from music to comedy to Broadway plays. I learned about the ins and outs of contracts, intellectual property rights and lots more. That was a great education for me.”
Moving to Wynn Las Vegas within the last year, Abouzeid is excited because it gives him a chance to return to his roots: journalism and media.
“I spent the first five years after college writing,” he says. “This job gets me back into writing and thinking about how we portray ourselves in the market. I’m working on the advertising spend we make and all the communication we convey on and off the property.
“We’re building the brand, but guarding it at the same time, by being careful about who we partner with and what we convey to the marketplace.”