Versatility is an incredibly important skill to have in the multi-faceted gaming industry, and Jacob Lanning is an excellent example of how adaptability can pave the way for opportunity and success. Having started his gaming career as an assistant slot manager over a decade ago, Jacob now serves as vice president of strategic R&D and sales strategy at leading slot manufacturer International Game Technology.
Although he has only been with IGT for under three years, Lanning has shown his versatility through the various positions he has held with the company, with vice president of global product management the most recent position before his current role. Prior to his time at IGT, Lanning spent most of his career working at MGM Resorts International and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where he held various positions in slot operations and management.
Lanning graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in communications and went on to receive an MBA in finance from his alma mater. While earning his master’s degree, Lanning served as an assistant slot manager at Bellagio, where he began to build his passion not just for the gaming industry as a whole, but also for the technology behind gaming machines.
“Over time, I really became enamored with gaming technology and creating great player experiences,” he says. “I got involved with a number of critical projects that refreshed the technology infrastructure at MGM Resorts International (including player tracking and ticket-in/ticket-out), and those experiences
really cemented my love for the gaming industry.”
Although he is clearly passionate about his career, Lanning recognizes that there are challenges that must be overcome when working with the technological side of the gaming industry. “Gaming has a unique challenge in terms of the speed with which technology moves relative to other industries,” he says. “Taking a new product to market is a delicate balance of regulatory considerations, the immediate needs of the consumer and the desire to re-invent.”
Lanning has had the privilege of working with many mentors over the years. One mentor in particular sticks out to Lanning. “One of my standout mentors was Mike Volkert, who I worked with for more than eight years,” he says. “He taught me a significant amount about the casino business, the importance of delivering value and how to execute complex projects on time and on budget.”
To those who are looking to get started in the gaming industry, Lanning recommends working in various roles, like he did, to find your true passion within the industry.
“If there is one piece of advice that I would offer someone early in his or her gaming career, it would be to work in as many different positions as you possibly can to find the area that really excites you.”
Between Lanning’s ever-growing experience and strong determination, his continued success in the gaming industry is assured. Having accomplished so much under the age of 40, his experience will only continue to grow, and he will likely become a mentor himself to serve as a source of inspiration for many others looking to find their true passion in the gaming industry.