When it comes to Jamie Smith, there are two things you should know. She grew up in paradise. Kailua, Hawaii.
Second, she’s a pretty good basketball player. She left one paradise for another when she accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with dreams of playing in the WNBA.
In the end, Smith played pro ball in Portugal. She didn’t like it, so she returned to UNLV to earn a master’s degree and entered the gaming industry with AGS, working her way to director of sales for table games.
Smith majored in criminal justice at UNLV with plans to work for NCIS or the FBI. While studying for her master’s, she entertained thoughts of becoming an athletic administrator.
“Who hasn’t jumped career paths in college?” Smith quips. “I had a friend who suggested that I check out this up-and-coming gaming company called AGS.”
AGS had just started a table games division.
“Being a lover of blackjack and poker games, I decided to apply for a sales position,” she explains. “Once I started to meet others in the industry and learned that these people genuinely love their jobs and what they do, I knew I wanted a career in gaming.”
Once she got a taste of gaming at AGS, “there was no turning back. I fell in love with the industry.”
As director of sales, Smith oversaw a team of five. The team is responsible for meeting a sales budget. She also has her own territory, spaced around North America, from Mexico to Canada, from Nevada to North Carolina.
“My daily job included ensuring we build relationships with our customers,” she says.
The Covid pandemic taught Smith to approach sales with new tactics, learning to navigate and manage relationships without physical interaction. “I had to get creative with communication and selling.”
Smith faces obstacles every day, beyond Covid. Maybe an installation doesn’t go as it should. Maybe she needs to negotiate a new deal.
“I’ve learned that listening is key in almost every situation. Also leaning on other members of the team to do their parts is important; it is all about teamwork,” says Smith, who works out to relax, to clear her mind and improve her mental attitude.
John Hemberger, senior vice president of table games at AGS, has been a mentor for the past six years.
“He took a chance on me when I first broke into the industry as I had no experience in gaming other than gambling in the casinos,” she says. “He took me under his wing and taught me the ins and outs of the industry.”
Hemberger liked Smith’s approach enough to promote her to director of sales in just 18 months. The promotion gave her the chance to learn the back end of a gaming company and to manage a team of unique personalities.
If Smith could speak with her younger self—or anyone coming into the industry—she’d say take chances. Take risks.
And she lives by her mantra. On February 2, she started a new job as business development executive at Aristocrat. She’ll learn even more about the industry, this time from the slots end.