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PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: Elena Arabadjieva

Director, Investor Relations, Genting Singapore

PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: Elena Arabadjieva

When the government of Singapore approved two casinos in the city, it was a shock to the developed world. After all, when you can’t discard chewing gum on the streets of this city, how will gaming prosper?

Very well, thank you.

Elena Arabadjieva has firsthand knowledge of how gaming works in the nation of Singapore. She joined the team from Genting gathered to plan Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) well before it opened, so her knowledge of the process is intensive.

“Joining RWS in 2008 was a dream job for me in terms of scope, scale and excitement,” she explains. “Being part of the pre-opening pioneer team of what was then going to be Singapore’s first integrated resort, and what is now a global tourism icon, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something big, groundbreaking and new. This was also a great chance for me to work with a team of professionals that were among the best in their respective fields. At the same time, because we were building a resort so unique and never-been-done-before, this was also a chance for us to get out of our comfort zone and push new boundaries.”

Genting bhd was based in Malaysia, but decided to spin off several entities. Genting Singapore is just one; others include Genting divisions in Hong Kong, the U.K. and the United States.

“Genting Singapore is an independent entity listed on the Singapore stock exchange,” Arabadjieva explains. “It has a market cap of SG$18 billion (US$14.4 billion) and is among Singapore’s 10 largest listed companies. Genting Singapore is a subsidiary of the Genting Group, and we are proud to be part of one of the biggest gaming and leisure conglomerates with a global footprint.”

The Singapore government views the integrated resorts as tourist attractions, and they must include a large amount of non-gaming amenities. RWS includes a Universal theme park and one of the largest aquariums on the Pacific Rim. Arabadjieva says that is an important element of the property.

“We are an integrated resort, where gaming and non-gaming are integrated seamlessly to provide a whole range of entertainment for our guests,” she says. “Non-gaming revenue is growing, and our attractions—Universal Studios Singapore and Marine Life Park—are doing very well.”

Arabadjieva acknowledges that Asia is the center for growth in the gaming industry, and opportunities are endless.

“Asia is the most exciting place to be today, period,” she says. “I am born and educated in Bulgaria, but I did my MBA at INSEAD in Singapore and France and have spent the better part of my career in Asia. Coming from Eastern Europe, a region that has undergone a lot of political and economic change in the past 20 years, I appreciate even more the global importance and the excitement of Asia, where everyone aims high and moves fast.

“In this context, it is even more exciting to be in an industry that is set to grow even more in the future. I believe that the key to remain relevant is to keep on learning and never shy away from challenges. Also, to expect the unexpected and to embrace opportunities, even if they are unusual and out of your comfort zone.”

While Genting is one of the largest gaming companies in the world, there is an air of mystery about it since it was founded by Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and still is largely owned by that family, with Lim’s son Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay in charge today. Arabadjieva believes that allows the company to be very proactive.

“I have been fortunate enough to be able to explore different areas of our business,” she says. “I joined RWS in 2008 in a marketing capacity and subsequently headed the MICE team during the pre-opening and early opening days. I am currently part of the corporate team of Genting Singapore and look after the investor relations part of our business. Having been in operations, a subsequent move to a corporate role has been very exciting for me, as this has given me the opportunity to see the company business from many different angles. At the same time, seeing the resort come to life from the ground up adds depth to my current role, and I look forward growing with the company in the future.”