How did you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position?
I was a fresh-faced Arts student in Canberra with no direction for what I was going to do with an Arts degree. I completed three weeks unpaid training to become a casual blackjack dealer with some school friends, not only did I gain financial independence and moved out home, but the Casino provided a social life that was all encompassing as I became a creature of the night. Neighbours I’m sure wondered where my housemate and I went with a full face of makeup and a white pressed shirt at 7pm not to return until late the following morning.
I came to Sydney to open Sydney Harbour Casino as a Game Supervisor in 1993- when welcoming new team members today, I gasp when I realise that I started in casinos last century!!
I’ve stayed with the company throughout all our re- branding and expansion and during that time have had opportunities to supervise; back then at most four tables, which has now become up to 16; to recruit and train new dealers; to pit manage – a role that is now an Assistant Gaming Manager and now requires a different skill set and expectations; and now I’m a Gaming Manager. The gaming floors I started in have dramatically changed as new products, improved technology and a diverse customer base challenges and stimulates each day. Throughout my career I have cherished the relationships I have made, both with longstanding guests and colleagues alike. We The Star, have become an institution over the years and as we have grown, everyone has a connection or a shared connection to someone who has worked here, or have had a story to share when coming here.
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career, so far?
In 2017 I had the honour of being recognised as Leader of the Year, recognition for your passion and achievements is wonderful, although I have battled with my impostor complex when I am surrounded with talented and driven colleagues who are also deserving of such acknowledgement. I am very conscious of the positive impact on individuals and team culture that comes appreciation and recognition, we sometimes underestimate the power of this as a motivator.
What advice would you give your younger self, starting out in the Gaming Industry?
Travel more- but then again, sliding doors. I have a family and partner that I cherish.
What do you think is the most significant barrier for women in the industry, today? How do you think this barrier can be overcome?
The gaming industry has the attraction of flexibility within the workplace, working outside of “normal” business hours; this is achievable when you have a partner or family support once you have children, although there is still a need for affordable and flexible childcare outside the hours of 6am to 6pm. I think this issue is not just restricted to the Gaming and Hospitality business and there will be a stronger demand, but until then businesses may need to consider investing in their own childcare facilities to retain talent for career progression.
What are your observations about the barriers or challenges women face that are specific to the gaming industry? How do you think these can be overcome?
We are almost at parity for gender equality at entry level, although there is a decline once we move into management and senior leadership, this is something The Star is very focused on, working through this challenge operationally; through our Women@star Diversity group and our partnership with WGA, watch this space! Senior leadership in casinos has always male dominated, but there are some very strong and energised women creating positive impact, and our formal and informal mentor network is strengthening, it is a very exciting time to be in Gaming at the moment. In the past there was a long held cultural expectation that to have credibility within the industry you needed to progress through the ranks of operations; to have all table game skills, to “do your time.” That thankfully is no longer the case, as we are a multifaceted industry requiring a wide range of skilled and experienced leaders to challenge innovative work practices.
What are some assumptions you’ve witnessed about women working in the gaming industry?
That we are all fabulously dressed swans gliding across the gaming floor attentive to each person you engage with, recalling everyone’s name, details of what makes that colleague or guest special and valuable at any time of the day or night. This takes a special talent and perfected skill that many a mentor of mine has displayed- to not expose that a female leader in gaming is working at double time and very aware of the legacy they follow, and the impact they have on future female leadership. Once upon a time dispute resolution with difficult male patronage was left to male managers, this is now not even point of discussion, thanks to the steel of strong female managers and their skill at negotiation and clear communication.