Q&A With Zhan Spalding

//Q&A With Zhan Spalding

How did you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position?

I joined the gaming industry in 1990 as a croupier for Casinos Austria, at that time having four boutique casinos in Prague, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I had the privileged to grow up there. Within two years I was promoted to Gaming Shift Manager, but as I always dreamed about travelling and living abroad I went for an interview to London with the aim to join a casino within the cruise industry. However, I was offered a gaming role with Casino La Mamounia in Marrakesh, Morocco instead, which I accepted as the location was exotic enough for me.

After a few years in Morocco I relocated to Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1994 just before the first Casino in New Zealand opened there. I started again in gaming, however after a few months I was approached by the Surveillance Manager and asked if I would be interested in joining his Surveillance Team. At the time I knew very little about this niche part of the gaming industry, but as I am always interested in the challenge to learn something new, I agreed. Looking back, I now know that it was one of the best decisions I made in my career within gaming.

I stayed in Christchurch for a few years before I was headhunted for the Surveillance Shift manager role with Harrah’s Entertainment, opening their new casino operation in Auckland. I stayed with Harrah’s for a few years before I was offered a new challenge, to become the Security & Surveillance Manager for Casinos Austria’ s operation in Bucharest in 1998. After a few years in Romania I was asked to join the pre-opening team for CIRSA at its first casino in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2000 overseeing the training of the Surveillance Team, as well as assisting with setting up a compliance and internal audit department.

From Argentina I went to Margarita Island in Venezuela, working with Casino Austria on their new project. When this project opened I then moved on to another new project in Mendoza, Argentina, with Hyatt Gaming International, as a compliance manager.

In 2002 I was offered the role of Director of Security & Surveillance for Casino Maruma in Maracaibo, Venezuela with Tilley Entertainment (TE). I stayed in Venezuela for about five years and eventually was promoted to Director of Operations (second in charge) of the largest casino in Venezuela at that time. Around 2006 I was transferred to Moscow as TE expanded its operations into new locations and my role changed to the Group Director of Security & Surveillance, overseeing Security and Surveillance Teams in Venezuela and Russia, I also took an active part in other TE projects in Mexico, Monte Negro and other locations. When all legal casinos closed in Moscow mid 2009 due to new legislation, I relocated to Prague, still with TE and worked for a few years as Director of Projects for TE.

In 2012, due to family reasons my husband and I relocated to the UK, where I joined the ASPERS Casino in East London as their Surveillance Manager, monitoring all four Aspers casino operations from this central location.

After a few years of living in the UK, my husband and I started to talk about moving to Australia and/or New Zealand, so when an opportunity arrived to join SKYCITY as their Surveillance Manager in Darwin, I gladly accepted the role. Two years later in 2016 I was promoted to the new role of SKYCITY Surveillance Manager – Australia and I relocated to Adelaide, overseeing both SKYCITY Australian surveillance teams in Adelaide and Darwin. In September 2018, I was promoted to Group Executive Manager – Surveillance, I now oversee all SKYCITY diverse and multicultural surveillance teams in both Australia and New Zealand.

What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career, so far?

There are a few achievements which I would consider significant in my career so far.

To be promoted to my current role is one of them, as there is a limited number of women within surveillance in gaming and even less at the executive level. Although here in Australasia in recent years the representation of women in surveillance leadership roles is becoming stronger than in the rest of the world, which is a positive trend, we still have a long journey ahead of us to reach optimal level. Many companies, such as SKYCITY, Star, Aristocrat and others, that focus on promoting diversity and gender equality within their workplace, will make this change a reality.

In my new role, I want to encourage other women to pursue their career in casino surveillance and help them to achieve.

Reflecting, being able to run an efficient security and surveillance teams in Maracaibo Venezuela for four years, which is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is another achievement I am very proud of. I owe this to a team of extraordinary, loyal, local people who were dedicated to keep the operation free of crime, regardless of their own safety.

However, my biggest achievement by far is my ongoing dedication to assist both women and men, in unlocking their talent and potential, helping them to grow within this fascinating industry.

I feel passionate about sharing my knowledge and experiences, helping people to achieve their goals and dreams, and in my past, I was able to coach and develop number of my team members, who then stepped up and became fine managers and leaders. This without doubt was, is and always will be the most fulfilling part of my role and my biggest achievement.

What advice would you give your younger self, starting out in the Gaming Industry?

Always follow your dreams, believe in yourself, keep learning and developing, don’t be shy to ask for help, network and find your mentor/coach to guide you early in your career.

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?

I see the challenges within the gaming industry being related to the acceptance of diversity, rather than related specifically to the gender equality. I believe that once diversity is fully embraced in our industry then the barriers that women facing will become less prominent, as all members of minority groups will be fully accepted without prejudice.

Women then, like the others, could stay true to themselves, authentic, not conforming to the expectations of the majority, reaching their full potential.

Who or what inspire you and why?

When it comes to inspiration there is so much of it around us if we are willing to listen, observe and learn. Being privileged, living in many countries, I learned that inspiration can and often comes from the most unexpected sources. I was always lucky to have in my life people who inspired me, both professionally and personally.

However, my main inspiration comes from human kindness in any shape and form as I believe that it is the secret to a better world.

To stay humble regardless of your success and to share with the less fortunate, as well as helping others to achieve their dreams is an honest goal in life to have.

2019-02-06T15:46:38+00:00

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