Starting from a single humble bingo hall up the road from Mobile, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has leveraged the tremendous success of three Class II casinos in Alabama into an international operation of four-diamond resorts under the Wind Creek brand. Olena Nall’s rise at Wind Creek Hospitality is in many respects a reflection of this exponential growth, as Nall has used her drive and skill set to take advantage of the unique opportunity created by Wind Creek’s fast-paced development.
Nall spent the first nine of her 13 years with Wind Creek as corporate financial controller, a position that enabled her to learn every aspect of gaming operations and involved her in consolidations, acquisitions of racetracks, compilations of financial statements, and $300 million-plus development projects.
In 2016, Nall decided to pursue a new opportunity in business development. Her timing was impeccable: After assisting in the acquisition of two Caribbean resorts in Aruba and Curacao, she took part in one of the largest single-asset acquisitions in the U.S. gaming industry, the acquisition of Sands Bethlehem, valued at $1.3 billion and completed in 2019.
Assessing possible acquisition targets, negotiating multiple agreements, financing the transaction, and presenting before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board were a part of the amazing journey that she was able to experience firsthand.
Nall has thrived in the open organizational culture at Wind Creek. “Collaboration and brainstorming are a central part of Wind Creek,” she says. “I am very proud to be a part of a team that gives an equal opportunity to every individual at the table to express his or her suggested solution to the problem and share feedback.” Along with her “curiosity and genuine desire to learn,” Nall credits her social skills and “passion for sharing what I have learned” for standing out in the crowd.
Her advice to young professionals is that “the desire to move quickly up the corporate ladder is never enough… It does not bring happiness and progress on its own. To be a success story, your personal goals and wishes must align with overall goals of the organization. You have to be passionate about what you are doing; otherwise, it will be a bumpy ride.”
Nall also insists that career success depends upon “working for and contributing to an ethical organization with a solid value system.”
Looking forward, Wind Creek and Nall are not slowing down. They are still exploring a variety of other business opportunities and expansions, along with “business adaptations” to a “new normal” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A CPA, Nall has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of West Florida as well as a B.S. in automation and computer-integrated technologies from the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Energy and Industry.