Mentorship Motivates

Geoffrey Goodman, Former Vice President, Business Development and Strategy, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.

Geoffrey Goodman’s expertise in strategic finance, corporate development and analytics came about from several factors over the years. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina Marshall School of Business, Goodman ascended the ranks at various firms involved in the gaming industry, developing his skill set and broadening his knowledge base all the while. One of the key factors he cites for his success is mentorship.

Having been mentored from a very young age, Goodman says, “I believe having a trusted mentor can be an invaluable way to leverage different perspectives for important decisions throughout your career.”

At age 13, Goodman completed a school mentor project with then-president of Treasure

Island John Strzemp. The project goal was to learn more about a career of interest, and Strzemp taught Goodman the ins and outs of a casino resort operation, which proved an amazing experience for that age. It piqued Goodman’s interest in the gaming industry, and he kept ties with Strzemp throughout the years, eventually interning for him in corporate finance during college. Strzemp consistently provided him with valuable advice on how to think about the business, how to evaluate career opportunities, and how to approach challenging decisions.

Being in finance, Goodman had the idea early on that his career would grow in a very logical progression. He was climbing the proverbial corporate ladder on the finance/development path when he pivoted. Asked to become the leader of Pinnacle’s analytics organization, Goodman’s past experience in this field was limited. Trusting that he would broadly impact the company and cultivate new skill sets for his career development, he worked with his team to improve the credibility of how analytics can help the business, achieving direct improvements in financial results.

“It challenged me to grow in ways I wasn’t expecting and to become a stronger leader,” says Goodman.

The successes Goodman reaped from being on the receiving end of great mentoring prompted him to develop a mentorship program for his analytics team. This program behooved mentors and mentees alike by helping mentors to develop their leadership skills, and by helping mentees to receive valuable career advice. In addition, matching individuals from different disciplines helped improve interdepartmental communication.

Another key factor that Goodman credits for his successes is trust. He made earning the trust of those who led him in the early days of his career a top priority, knowing that the best way to earn that trust was to work hard and exhibit a keen eye for detail. His curiosity to learn proved that he cared about his work, thus creating more opportunities to contribute. Another key asset that helped him flourish was a good sense of organization.

“Organization,” says Goodman, “will help you solve problems faster and prioritize your responsibilities.” All of these assets and initiatives paved the way for Goodman’s lucrative career, one of the highlights of which was building a team of professionals who worked collaboratively together, performing their jobs at a high level and achieving impactful results.

As for where the casino gaming industry is headed, Goodman sees it following the same digital evolution as many other industries of today. Although the regulations inherent in gaming have slowed that evolution down a bit, digital gambling is beginning to take form as states continue to approve online gambling, sports betting and social gaming. Goodman predicts that the digital gambling segment will continue to grow alongside the careers of young industry professionals in particular.

“Young professionals have spent a fair amount of their lives as consumers of digital products,” Goodman says, “and therefore have an opportunity to provide their informed perspectives on these emerging gambling businesses.”

Marie Casias
Marie Casias is manager of marketing and administration for the Innovation Group

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