A cup of coffee to kick the day off right has become something of a cliché. But for Brenda Lim, the cliché rings true.
As director of casino operations, slots, at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Lim credits coffee for both her effectiveness and the happiness of those she works with.
“I believe that when people are happy, they apply themselves to their work,” she says.
Lim also learns much walking the casino floor, where she imagines herself as a customer, making a list of changes.
“This helps make improvements to our products and processes. Walking the floor also gives me the chance to catch up with team members stationed there,” says Lim, who came into the gaming business after obtaining a law degree.
She practiced law for a few years before joining Marina Bay Sands as in-house legal counsel.
“During this time,” she explains, “I learned a lot about gaming operations, and eventually felt that this was where I was better able to apply my skill sets.”
Having a law degree for a casino position adds another element to the job.
“The litigator in me still lurks beneath the surface, and I verify facts endlessly whenever I prepare for anything. There are many sides to a situation, and we need to always be able to see them all,” Lim says.
An established institution like Marina Bay Sands means working with an extended pool of talented and experienced people in all levels of management. “I make an effort to learn from these people, but more importantly, once I manage to get us on the same page and in agreement on strategic objectives, I get out of their way and let them do their work.”
A Singapore native, Lim acknowledges a long list of people who taught her life skills on her way up the corporate ladder.
“I am particularly grateful to Andrew MacDonald, our chief casino officer, who took an interest in my development during my transition from a legal role into a gaming role, and threw an extraordinary amount of gaming literature my way to help me catch up,” she says.
Lim understands she and her staff cannot succeed in a stagnant environment. “We need to constantly reinvent ourselves and our products to keep customers engaged,” she says.
The reinvention touches on an economy tuned in to instant satisfaction. “There is only so much patience a customer is going to have before moving on to the next product or attraction. I like to tell my team members about Disneyland—a place of magic and wonder, but one with humans behind the scenes, working to keep that spell alive,” Lim says.
It’s a message the industry newcomers should heed as they decide whether to come on board. Lim has advice for them. Find a position you like, if not love. Anything less and you’ll be miserable, she says.
“It’s natural to find work challenging in the beginning. But persevere; keep trying at something before you even entertain the thought of giving up. And never short-change yourself.”