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Mentoring is a Two-Way Street

Encouragement and inspiration are just part of this relationship

Mentoring is a Two-Way Street

Throughout my 25 years in the gaming industry, I’ve been fortunate to have been mentored by some of the most knowledgeable and articulate women and men in the gaming industry. I now find myself serving as a mentor to women advancing their careers in the industry.

Whether the student or the teacher, the mentor relationship is equally rewarding; it’s about learning, sharing and growing together.

Debra Nutton, executive vice president of casino operations at Wynn and Encore, has been one of the most impactful mentors in my career. I like to say that Debi gave me a shove when I needed it. An opportunity arose at a sister property within MGM Resorts, and Debi recommended that I pursue the opportunity. At the time, my children were young, I was content in my current job and, quite frankly, questioned my own readiness for the position.

As a true advocate, Debi insisted that I was ready and capable, and should apply for the position. Not only was that opportunity the pivotal moment in my career, but it has allowed me the confidence to welcome the unknown and the growth that comes with it.

For Debi and me, that opportunity was the beginning of great mentor/mentee relationship—and an even better friendship. Debi has exposed me to some of the most amazing people in the gaming industry; she is a master at networking and bringing people together.

With Debi’s encouragement, I completed my degree in business management, became a member of the Leadership Las Vegas class of 2011, and began participating in Global Gaming Women initiatives. I learned the importance of networking, and have been able to meet and connect with a strong network of executive women from all over the industry. We share experiences, offer advice, and support the development and advancement of each other.

Currently, I am mentoring three women at different stages in their careers. When mentoring or offering career advice, I reflect on the mentoring and coaching that I received at different stages in my career. The concerns one faces coming right out of college and entering the job market differ from those of a director-level executive aspiring for a vice president position. The leadership that I’ve received along the way has continued to shape my path.

In my first position as director of casino operations at New York-New York, I reported to Trevor Scherrer, who is currently president and COO at the Mirage. Trevor nurtured my analytical skills by insisting that I present data to support my operational decisions; I learned to always come prepared.

I later reported to Cindy Kiser Murphey, president and COO at New York-New York. Cindy met with me frequently to discuss the operational needs of my department as well as my career development. She emphasized the importance of building a team and succession planning. How well had I developed my team?

Renee West, president and COO of Luxor and Excalibur, set a very clear vision and strategic plan for the executive team to execute. I learned to hold my team and myself accountable for plan execution. Scott Snow, SVP and CFO of Luxor and Excalibur, consistently challenged me and the rest of the team to find new, improved and more efficient processes that would streamline operations; I learned to challenge the status quo.

In my current position at MGM Grand, Scott Sibella, president and COO, is a great example of execution and vision. He has made amazing progress to our property and today, MGM Grand continues to be a top destination for entertainment in Las Vegas.

Both Scott and Mike Neubecker, SVP of finance and CFO, have taught me to remain focused on proven strategies, allow my team the autonomy to lead, and execute exceptional guest service. These are just a few examples of the formal and informal mentoring that I’ve received throughout my career. The message is to keep eyes and ears open for role-modeled behaviors and knowledge that will aid in your development.

Exceptional resources are available for women looking to develop a mentor/mentee relationship. Global Gaming Women’ site,, is a tremendous source of information. It is also where you may sign up to attend Global Gaming Women events. Also on the site are the one-minute Coffee Break segments where executive women from the gaming industry share stories and advice with all of us.

Another terrific resource is Global Gaming Network,, which is an online mentor/mentee match network that pairs mentees and mentors. Additionally, the Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, presented by the MGM Resorts Foundation, will be held August 6-7 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, offering a forum to promote women’s personal and professional development and advancement.

A good mentor is a teacher or someone that supports your development and is willing to share the tools that helped them succeed. More importantly, it would be someone that cares about you enough to give you candid, honest feedback.

A great mentor will disclose the mistakes she made along the way, her career setbacks and failures, and share how she overcame those challenges. For me, mentoring is not only a way to pay it forward for the help I’ve received along the way,; it’s truly a rewarding experience.

Through mentoring and the exchange of ideas with mentees, I continue to learn and develop my own skills. Mentoring is truly a two-way street.

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