Josh Ford has always had a passion for figuring out how things work. From a young age, he loved to tinker with objects, disassembling and reassembling them. Naturally, even as a child, he took up computer programming.
Growing up with such aspirations enabled Ford to assess situations and challenges through a process-based approach. This method has allowed him to “focus on how to get from point A to point B effectively,” he says, “without spending time worrying about the actual challenge itself.”
With a propensity for constant inquiry, Ford’s success in gaming is no surprise.
He graduated from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in business management and a minor in computer information systems. After graduation, he started in the casino industry as an overnight bus greeter for Caesars Entertainment in Atlantic City. While working at night, he dove into learning about the casino’s processes. He learned how repetitive some tasks were, and found ways to do them more efficiently. His curiosity and innovative thinking caught the eye of the regional database marketing team.
Impressed by Ford’s desire to understand and implement efficiencies within the casino, they moved him into the database marketing role that jump-started his career.
Within his new role as database administrator, Ford realized there were many efficiencies to be gained through technology. This inspired him to improve processes and generate tools to help fellow employees perform their jobs more efficiently. He describes “the glow you see in your co-worker’s face when you take the time to walk in their shoes and provide them with solutions that save them even as little as 20 to 30 minutes of work in their day.” Ford calls it “energizing.”
He continued to ask questions and implement time-saving innovations, and utilized data to build internal software that assisted casinos promotionally. His efficiencies caught the eye of Rush Street Gaming, which hired Ford as one of its property database marketing managers, and later promoted him to director of IT and business intelligence at the corporate level.
Today, Ford is chief information officer of Jamul Casino, San Diego’s newest casino, where he’s responsible for the strategic and tactical
decisions of the IT and analytics departments, ensuring the casino’s success through data-
supported decisions and recommendations.
Ford believes his curiosity and ability to gain a wide range of knowledge simply by asking “why” led to his success in the gaming industry. He says he always strives to “understand the inner workings of processes, programs, and companies—even if it falls outside of my line of discipline.”
From a data and analytical standpoint, Ford says there is always a need to “play devil’s advocate and understand the ‘why’ behind why something wasn’t done a certain way, or why an opposing decision was made.” Ford embraces differing viewpoints and seeks to understand the opposition, a tactic that strengthens his knowledge of how people and departments work together within an organization.
As for the future of the gaming industry, he believes it is at the beginning of a technological renaissance. Ford says he is thrilled by the growing interest in data analytics machine learning, which is attracting young professionals and startup companies, and iGaming, which is bringing innovative companies into the industry that never would have entered otherwise.
Ford’s No. 1 piece of advice to young professionals? “Always stay curious, and never accept ‘because this is how we’ve always done it’ as an answer.”