It is hard to believe that Global Gaming Women (GGW) was established only three years ago. This year saw so many milestones for this young organization. This year’s Global Gaming Expo included a daylong women’s program organized by GGW.
In addition, the Kick Up Your Heels event raised a record amount for scholarships to deserving women of the gaming industry. This success is truly a testament to all of the passion and commitment of those involved.
As part of the daylong women’s program, I personally had the opportunity to participate in the “State of the Industry: Women Who Lead” panel. It was a privilege to be in the company of such great women of gaming as moderator Patricia Becker, CEO, Patricia Becker & Associates; and fellow panelists Eileen Moore, regional president, Caesars Entertainment; Cindy Kiser Murphey, president and COO, New York-New York Hotel & Casino; and Renee West, president and COO, Luxor & Excalibur Hotel & Casino. It was the most comfortable and authentic panel I have ever been part of.
While the purpose of the panel was to share our experiences as part of the development of the participants in the program, I believe we all left our panel enriched from the experience. I was reminded how important it is to create the opportunity to bring leaders together in this type of a forum and for leaders to make the time to participate.
The future leaders of gaming come to these sessions with the expectation that they will get access to senior leaders of our industry and will glean insights that will make a difference in their careers. From the feedback that we received, I believe that was exactly what occurred.
The panel responded candidly to tough questions such as, “Give a situation that knocked you down in your career and how you got back up.” The panelists spoke of balancing families and careers, and surviving the loss of parents and divorces while continuing to take on increasing responsibilities within their organizations.
This sharing of ideas and personal experiences not only gave insight to the audience on how they might handle future situations, it also gave them hope and exposed them to the camaraderie that has become a mainstay for women in gaming.
While the numbers certainly have been small and the network previously has not been formal, women in gaming have somehow sought each other out and have encouraged each other along the way.
Eileen Moore tells of when she arrived in Las Vegas and Cindy Kiser Murphey and Renee West immediately embraced her and invited her to lunch. This is just one of the many examples of an informal network that has evolved over the years. Now, through the establishment of Global Gaming Women, its establishment of the Global Gaming Network (GGN) and its effort to provide access to leaders through programs such as these, the network will grow rapidly.
Our session was only one of several great sessions that included topic such as addressing the gender pay gap, developing your personal brand and the importance of lifelong learning. Several attendees of the daylong session were GGW scholarship award recipients funded from prior Kick Up Your Heels and other GGW fundraising events. In discussion with one woman, she was grateful for the opportunity to attend, as her employer would not have funded this type of training for her.
If this day was not rewarding enough, how better to cap it off than by having the opportunity to watch two amazing women, Patricia Becker and Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of communications, government relations and corporate responsibilities, Caesars Entertainment, be inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame that evening.
It is remarkable to see the contributions these women have made to this industry throughout the years. Personally, it was very rewarding to witness them receive this great honor as I have been fortunate enough to benefit from Jan’s encouragement throughout my career and have had the opportunity to work with Patty through GGW.
I truly believe that G2E 2014 marked a tipping point for women in gaming and GGW. Granted, it was years in the making to have a panel comprised of three women leaders that emerged across properties on the Las Vegas Strip and a female CEO from Mississippi, as well as two amazing women inducted to the Gaming Hall of Fame, but the path has been cleared.
Through the efforts of many women committed to sustaining this trend, by participating and supporting GGW in various capacities, I am confident that the daylong program will continue to expand and we will see more women rise to senior roles and serve as role models in our industry.