When I first became involved in the gaming industry, it was to take a job that had no title, no job description and no clear career path. Pennsylvania had just passed its law authorizing casino gaming, and I was the first person selected to work full-time on preparing for the startup of gaming in the state. I took a risk on a new industry and, despite the ups and downs inherent in any startup, I have never questioned my decision.
Today, as director of licensing for Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board and president of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR), I believe that risk-taking is one of the keys to success for women in the gaming industry. Taking a calculated risk, such as being the first to sign on to a new endeavor, can open doors to opportunity.
Another key to success is the willingness to take action rather than waiting for good things to happen to you. During my first meeting of IAGR, I was so impressed with the association that I decided I wanted to be a part of the organization’s leadership.
I sought out the association’s then chairman and was successful in being elected first a trustee, next an officer, and now I have twice been elected president. In some of us, taking risk and taking action are inherent abilities; in others, they are skills that must be learned, and one of the best ways to learn them is through someone else’s example.
Encouraging women to learn from one another is the reason behind Global Gaming Women. The organization’s mission is to support the development and success of women in the international gaming industry through education, mentorships and networking opportunities. Soon, Global Gaming Women will launch a mentoring program.
Though I have never had the chance to be a part of a formal mentor-mentee relationship, I realize as I write this article that I, like all of you, have been in one way or another a mentor or mentee throughout my career. We may not know it at the time, but all of the professional relationships we encounter shape our careers. We are always influencing or being influenced by the people around us. I have hired staff and helped them grow in their jobs and professionally.
One woman in particular caught my attention because of the abilities, attitude and potential she demonstrated as my assistant in a previous job as an attorney. She was surprised when I plucked her out of that assistant’s job to give her a chance on the ground floor of the Gaming Control Board—the state’s first new agency in 30 years. Today that woman has been promoted multiple times and is now an agency manager.
I have worked for others from whom I have learned and who have helped define me as a leader. A particular lesson that has stuck with me came early from an anchorman who took me under his wing when I was starting out in the television news business. He emphasized the importance of passing on the knowledge gained from experience to those behind you, saying it not only helps them but also keeps you fresh and engaged in your own job.
I have also worked with colleagues like my fellow trustees and other members of IAGR who represent different parts of the world and different cultures. IAGR is fortunate to have several female trustees who have risen to the tops of their organizations and who are generous in sharing their knowledge, including Jenny Williams from the United Kingdom, Birgitte Sand from Denmark, and Kaye McDonald from Antiqua.
At our annual IAGR conference, we seek to promote diversity as we bring together individuals from around the globe to hear from one another how to best improve the effectiveness and efficiency of gaming regulation. All of these relationships have had a positive impact on me and where I am in my career.
Whether a gaming regulator or on the industry side of the business, the issues women face—with the exception of regulator employment restrictions—are not very different. We are all striving to achieve, to have a seat at the table, to have access to opportunity and to be recognized for our accomplishments. We have all faced career frustrations. We can all learn from one another.
And, we can get perspective on dealing with issues from more sources than ever before. They range from books like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, to professional relationships, to association colleagues and even TED speeches. Global Gaming Women is the latest resource available to us. The initiative creates a platform to encourage industry-specific relationships that in large or subtle ways, which we may not even recognize today, can translate into who we are and where we will go in the gaming industry tomorrow.