with a degree in sport management. So he got a job at a casino run by the Ontario Lottery & Gaming, an arm of the provincial government.
“I was looking for a job that I thought would be fun and found a lot of similarities between the sport industry and gaming,” he says. “Both are 24/7 businesses that deal in entertainment.”
His affinity for poker sealed the deal.
Siefert spent more than 11 years with OLG and then Gateway Casinos, a private firm that took over the government gaming halls. But he recently left for Wightman Telecom, a move which may seem as incongruous as a sport management major handling operations at a casino.
“I was afforded the opportunity to learn a new industry and a new role as controller of a regional communications provider. But gaming gave me a solid foundation in a number of transferable skills. People management, budgeting and analysis and project management were among the reasons I was offered my position,” he says.
Over the final eight years of his casino career, Siefert, as operations manager, oversaw the gaming floor, from customer management to planning and budgeting to delivering player experiences. In 2014, he served as point man for gaming floor expansion.
“My main goal was to ensure the business continued to operate while preparing the new space,” says Siefert, who enjoys life with his wife and children when away from the workplace.
His final year involved transition of the property from OLG to Gateway, so that each area was ready for the changes.
Siefert gives credit to those who helped pave his way. His first mentor, Bryan Buchanan, also worked in operations during the early part of his career. “We learned a lot about slot floor management together. That became a comfort zone for me.”
Spencer Parazader came onboard as general manager four years after Siefert moved to operations.
“He recognized who I was and where my strengths were. Spencer put me in position to succeed and challenged me every day to be a little better than the day before,” says Siefert, who loves the occasional getaway from Canadian winters.
Linda McColl, the general manager when Siefert left the organization, encouraged him to push the boundaries.
Gaming, Siefert says, is at a crossroads. It needs to continue to attract current players but also bring in younger people, in part with interactive games.
“Making sure a share of the floor is always given to those products will help. I also think there will be a further push for sports betting as well as the opportunity for online gaming,” he says.
For those thinking of entering the gaming industry, a piece of advice: “Be comfortable with change. And accept a 24/7 lifestyle.”
Siefert’s plan for himself is to better understand the communications industry. “There are parallels with gaming in that the technology continues to evolve at a high rate,” he says. “What we do today is probably going to be different than what we do five years from now.”