How do you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position?
I started in the industry when I was in the penultimate year of an arts/law degree and I certainly started at entry level. My first role in the gaming industry was a casual Gaming Machine Attendant/Cashier at Crown Melbourne. I had been working a variety of hospitality and other roles whilst studying and I was impressed by both the great conditions on offer and the flexibility offered by the shift work. I actually knew little to nothing about the industry itself (or about gambling) when I took that first role and never imagined at the time that I would still be working in an industry role over two decades later. Upon completing my studies I took a role in management with the Crown Gaming Machines Department and in subsequent years I worked in responsible gambling, including as Manager of Crown’s Responsible Gambling Support Centre. I moved to my first role with the Australasian Gaming Council – an industry funded NFP that focuses on industry sustainability and responsible gambling – in 2008. I found the role at the AGC through networks established through Crown. Over the years I took on more responsibility in varying roles with the AGC, all of which brought with them amazing opportunities – from writing major reports and submissions to appearing before the Productivity Commission and speaking at international conferences. I moved to my current position in 2016 after both the outgoing AGC CEO and the Board of the AGC advised that they had confidence in me to take over the leadership role.
What advice would you give your younger self about working in the gaming industry?
Continue to take advantage of every training session, networking opportunity and chance to learn more that you can. It will all stand you in good stead! Put your hat in the ring for roles where you may feel that you don’t meet ALL the selection criteria (it’s a rare role where you will be able to step up a fully-fledged expert, well versed in absolutely all aspects of a new position).
What is the best decision you have ever made professionally? What is one thing you would do differently if you had the chance?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint any one decision but some of my best decisions over the years have certainly been those where I consulted widely and took on board the wisdom of others in the networks available to me. The gambling industry operates in a complex, multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder space. I’ve actively sought out, and have also been fortunate to have access to, the counsel of some of the industry’s most senior leaders – including those who comprise the Board of the AGC – which has helped me enormously. I’ve also been aided in a number of decisions by seeking input where I can from my team and colleagues.
With regard to decision making about the course of my own career I’d add that sometimes you have to push yourself a little to reach out for the opportunities that exist and embrace a few fears, especially if a new role is an area in which you are really interested and one in which you can see yourself developing further. I remember experiencing distinct qualms about leaving a great employer and a known environment with really supportive colleagues and friends at Crown to commence my first role with the AGC. I was definitely stepping outside of my comfort zone. If I had allowed fear that I may not succeed to rule my decision making I would likely not have taken up some of the very different challenges that are unique to my current workplace and which progressed the career I have now.
If I could do anything differently it would be to divest myself much earlier of a belief that if a project or task I was undertaking wasn’t a 100% success from the outset or the very first draft it was a complete failure. Some projects turn out much better with the benefit of feedback, changes and the learning and personal growth that comes from both.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There’s been any number of people in this industry who have helped mould my thinking and skills and to all of them I’m grateful. Two key people who actively guided me on an ongoing basis over the years include Bill Horman, who led the Community Affairs Department at Crown some time ago and Cheryl Vardon, the previous AGC CEO. Both were instrumental to my development by sharing their contacts, introducing me to broader networks and allowing me (sometimes prodding me) to step up and step forward. Both challenged my thinking and rewarded me with opportunity for effort and support as I needed it. Both were generous with their time. Cheryl is now the Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission and has had a distinguished career for many years. It was inspirational at the AGC to have an example from the outset of a woman leading the organisation.
What advice would you give someone entering the gaming and hospitality industry for the first time
Make the most of every opportunity for training, development, mentoring and networking that is available to you – and seek these out if they are not immediately apparent.
This industry is investing in diversity and actively seeking to further gender equality in the workplace so take advantage of that. WGH is a wonderful industry initiative – so take advantage of that too.
Any success I’ve had to date has been a product of everything learnt and experienced personally, training provided (or sought out), wisdom garnered and at times very generously given from mentors and colleagues, support and feedback gained from team members and friends. I won’t say anything has fallen in my lap – there’s been a lot of hard work as well and our industry can be as challenging as it is vibrant – but support is there, and more importantly it is growing, for the greater development and success of women as leaders in our industry.