In This Issue
Get Involved
See what some of TIG's staff had to say about these Emerging Leaders highlighted in GGB Magazine's April issue:
"Are You Experienced?" by Stephanie Adkison 

Chris Sherlock, Corporate Director of Guest Experience at MGM Resorts International, continues to demonstrate his versatility as he succeeds on both the analytical and operational side of gaming.   


"Targeting Youth" by Joe Dimino  

Lucy Buckley, Director of Strategy and Communications at Inspired Gaming Group, serves as a natural fit for connecting the gaming industry with the younger demographic via more innovative technologies such as mobile and social gaming.


"Seven In!" by Jennifer Day  

Director of Organizational Development at Little River Casino Resort, Israel Stone, continues to be a driving force in the creation and implementation of the Sevens training program, which seeks to identify and cultivate leadership from within.


View the complete articles here.
Women Who Mean Business
OBJ reveals 2015 up-and-comers

Congratulations to The Innovation Group's VP of Finance & Leisure Development, Renese Johnson, for being selected as an honoree in Orlando Business Journal's 2015 Women Who Mean Business Awards! Renese and the other "Women to Watch" will be honored at the awards luncheon on April 28th. See the full article here. 

Upcoming Conferences & Trade Shows
Building relationships through networking is a powerful way to market yourself and your organization, and executives who create personal connections set themselves apart from the competition by gaining notoriety and recognition. Emerging Leaders are more than just today's superstars; they're tomorrow's leaders. That's why we at Emerging Leaders of Gaming TM continue toward our important objective to connect young future industry leaders with one another.   


Southern Gaming Summit / Bingo World 

May 5-7

Biloxi, MS


C5's Annual Forum on U.S. Online Gaming 

May 13-14

New York, NY


SAGSE (South American Gaming Suppliers Expo) Central America & Caribbean @ Panama  

May 13-14



G2E Asia 

May 19-21

Macau, China


European Lotteries (EL) Congress 

Jun 8-11

Oslow, Norway


NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) & Affiliates Convention Week  

Jun 11-19

Orlando, FL


The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development - RES D.C. 2015 Tradeshow 

Jun 15-18

Washington D.C.


Canadian Gaming Summit 

Jun 16-18

Windsor, Ontario, Canada


Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo 

Jun 22-24

Tulalip, WA


April 2015 
Dear Emerging Leaders of GamingTM Member,

This quarter's newsletter features an insightful look into the presence of women in the work force, a feature on our highlighted Emerging Leader, a snapshot of the young executives recently showcased in GGB Magazine, links to future networking opportunities, and more. Read on for more about Emerging Leaders of GamingTM and how you can participate! 
Working Women


As new generations of women enter the workforce, they are bringing additional skill and value to the table. For the last 20 years, the percentage of women with at least a bachelor's degree has exceeded that of men. The Council of Economic Advisers reports that women 25-34 years old were 21% more likely than men to be college graduates and 48% more likely to have completed graduate school in 2013.1 The number of women in senior management positions remains low by comparison, thus garnering the attention of corporate financial analysts. Credit Suisse has demonstrated a connection between a greater number of women on the board of directors and better performance. In 2012 and 2014, the analysis finds that companies with a greater female board presence have better returns.2 The latest CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management report focused on gender diversity in Senior Management, revealing companies with a greater percentage of women in senior management roles to be more profitable. Those with 15% or more of women in senior management positions saw double digit premiums on ROE, net debt/equity, price/book, and payout ratios.3 As more young women receive higher levels of education and as the value of female executives continues to be acknowledged, the future appears bright for those seeking corporate leadership roles.


Gender Diversity in the Gaming Industry

As any executive will confirm, the path to the top takes time, hard work, and a combination of formal training and less formal mentoring. This is crucial for women looking to advance in their industries, given the disparity between men and women in leadership positions, and the gaming industry is no exception. Though women comprise approximately 50% of the gaming workforce, only 3% are in managerial roles.4 In order to help shift these figures and support the development of successful female leaders in the industry, American Gaming Association (AGA) established Global Gaming Women (GGW) in 2011. In one of their more recent initiatives, GGW commissioned a report from McClain Resources to examine the development and advancement of women in the gaming industry. Like Credit Suisse, the report finds that gender diversity drives organizational and financial performance in businesses.5 As the report notes, women demonstrate complementary and diverse leadership styles that correlate to overall company performance. In this report's focus group research and interviews with women in the gaming industry, all of the respondents note the importance of mentorship, however, many feel that the industry lacks a commitment to engaging in strategies that advance employees. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, this can make rising through the ranks challenging for many women in gaming.


This data offers the industry an opportunity to create initiatives that encourage future leaders by committing to gender diversity in all levels of management. Companies proven to attract and retain the best and brightest believe in promoting diversity in all hierarchies of the organization. Karla Perez-Larragoite, National Director of Gaming at Cintas Global Accounts and Strategic Markets, f eels that such a commitment is crucial to the advancement of women, quoting, "Start with the right culture; hire and promote those who fit that culture and are deserving, turning a blind eye to demographics." In addition to creating a culture in which gender diversity is valued, better access to career counseling, formal mentoring, and sponsorship programs are all integral to advancement.  


"Mentors have been instrumental to my success both in the gaming industry and in my previous career. I have benefited from incredible mentors and, in turn, have had the privilege of sharing my insight with women mentees. Having someone with whom to share experiences, explore options, and chart a path forward is very rewarding, and it creates long standing personal and professional relationships."  

Martha Sabol

Greenberg Traurig's Global Gaming Practice


While women tend to have access to career counseling and formal mentoring, companies and individuals put less emphasis on securing sponsors. This is a key component, as sponsors tend to be senior executives who will advocate on behalf of their prot?g?s, generating additional job opportunities.6 Renese Johnson, Vice President of Finance & Leisure Development at The Innovation Group, notes the importance of engaging in professional organizations such as GGW, advising, "Don't just look at the four walls of your office for support. Meeting other leaders can give you greater perspective and help you build your brand." Other leaders echo this sentiment, as well. Sue Schneider, Principle at egamingbrokerage.com, encourages women to network, saying, "I like to encourage folks to get involved with trade associations and/or charitable activities. They typically offer great leadership training and a way to 'shine' among your colleagues."


In a business world conventionally run by men, women will still need to individually seek out opportunities to gain experience and support in order to build their resumes. It is, however, clear that diversity is gaining momentum as female executives continue to take the reins in both the gaming industry and the work force overall . As Shekinah Hoffman of AGA notes, "The desire for upward mobility and female empowerment within gaming is there. It's what we do with it that matters."  



Sources: (1) s3.amazonaws.com, (2, 3) 30percentclub.org, (4) americangaming.org, (5, 6) globalgamingwomen.org 

Featured Emerging Leader
Nicole Fields
Assistant Marketing Manager, Cintas Direct Sales and Strategic Markets

Nicole Fields' knowledge of the gaming industry began when she started as an innovative marketer for Caesars Entertainment, one of the largest gaming operators in the world. As an experienced brand manager in the casino industry, Nicole's gaming experience runs the gamut from developing VIP programs to marketing multiple core brands at a local level. Among her proudest achievements at Caesars was the rollout of the newly relaunched customer loyalty program, Total Rewards, and the grand opening of Horseshoe Cincinnati, one of the largest casinos in Caesars Entertainment's portfolio. One of her strongest assets is her ability to network and build business relationships, as well as create new business opportunities for her company. These techniques have repeatedly proven successful in her new role as marketing leader for a top Fortune 500 company within the company's gaming division.  



"Nikki is someone to watch for sure. What she has done for our division is amazing. She is creative, driven, and inspires me every day." 

Karla Perez-Larragoite

National Director of Gaming

Cintas Global Accounts and Strategic Markets

Currently, Nicole is in charge of building and implementing marketing campaigns targeted at C-level decision makers to help bring their coveted brands to life through custom uniform programs and specialized business solutions for the customer. Nicole has taken on additional leadership roles outside her day-to-day responsibilities, including serving as co-chairperson of Women Adding Value Everywhere (WAVE), an infinity group at Cintas. In addition, she recently joined Global Gaming Women. She serves on the Conference Programming & Events Committee and is currently overseeing a new event called Power of the Suit, aimed to raise funds for the Global Gaming Women Charitable Education Fund. 

Emerging Leaders Making Progress

In 2012, we at The Innovation Group decided to expand our exposure within the younger demographic of leaders in the gaming industry, our goals being to foster relationships with emerging leaders, to develop a platform for those leaders to interact, and to provide networking opportunities at industry events and conferences. This venture kicked off with a small meeting of industry leaders under the age of 40 at Global Gaming Expo's 2012 show, marking the first opportunity for young members of the gaming and casino community to interact with peers instead of with superiors or elders in the industry. That event spawned the creation of a LinkedIn Group and database that allowed industry members under 40 to interact, to schedule events, and to meet up at industry functions.  


In 2013, as a follow-up to the success of the previous year's efforts, The Innovation Group partnered with Reed Exhibitions - the producers of G2E and American Gaming Association - to develop the Emerging Leaders of GamingTM program for its inaugural year at G2E 2013. This program featured the presentation of scholarships, the recognition of a small group of emerging leaders in the industry, and the creation of Global Gaming Business Magazine's recurring feature, "40 Under 40", which highlights up-and-coming young leaders.  


2014 marked the expansion of the program to include scholarships for emerging leaders who would otherwise be unable to attend G2E, as well as the recognition of leaders under 40 and the second installment of "40 Under 40". At the conference, TIG, Reed, and the AGA sponsored a networking event allowing people under 40 to interact among one other, as well as with a lauded group of industry leaders. The instant mentoring opportunities at the event were unparalleled.  


Continuing into 2015, we hope to increase event attendance to include even more under 40 participants. In addition, we are exploring opportunities at G2E Asia to provide similar experiences for Asian market participants who do not attend G2E in Las Vegas. We look forward to your continued support and attendance at future Emerging Leaders events.  

Don't miss Southern Gaming Summit's session, The New Non-Gaming Opportunity, with speaker Jennifer Day, Sr. Analyst for The Innovation Group
Thursday, May 7 

Much of the recent reinvestment in casino facilities in the southeast and throughout the country has been on the non-gaming side of the business. Hotels, the overall food-and-beverage product mix, clubs, pools, and spas have been upgraded, and casinos have found new opportunities to build non-gaming profits as a result.  This session will identify ways in which casinos can maximize the ROI of their non-gaming businesses, how profitability can and should be assessed, and how to cement relationships by building loyalty programs that recognize the value of a customer's non-gaming spend.


  • Charles Anderer, Executive Editor, Casino Journal 


  • Angie Dobney, Vice President of Pricing and Revenue Management Services, Rainmaker Group
  • Bart Golub, Senior Solutions Engineer, Global Gaming Accounts, Duetto
  • Kris Norton, Director of Hotel Operations, Boyd Gaming
Click here for more information on Southern Gaming Summit.

Emerging Leaders of Gaming has established itself as the go-to network for young professionals assuming the next generation of leadership in gaming, entertainment, hospitality, food and beverage, tourism, and leisure. We continue to support the growth and development of these rising stars as they achieve their fast-track to success, destined to fill tomorrow's senior-level and C-suite management positions.

For more information, contact leaders@theinnovationgroup.com or visit our website

7852 S. Elati Street, Suite 100  |  Littleton, CO 80120  |  www.theinnovationgroup.com