Have you ever wondered how the most important roles in the higher echelons of power are selected within the largest gambling corporations in the world?
One person who has more answers than most is Neal Wyman of Tyzack and James Theodore of Exeter Partners who specialize in board appointments in the Leisure, Hospitality and Gaming sectors.
Neal was recently approached by Sands China to help them find a Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for their business in Macau. The position would not only report directly to the CEO but also would also become a member of the Executive Committee, and be responsible for 200 team members.
Sands China operates the largest collection of integrated resorts in Macau: The Venetian Macau, the Sands Macau and the Plaza Macau, and they were searching for someone to strengthen the leadership and strategic direction of its marketing organization.
We sat down with Neal Wyman to understand the process him and his team goes through in order to pin point the perfect match.
Why do you think Sands did not fill the position through the ‘old boys network’?
For the same reason that they recognized this job needed someone with broader experience. Sands China had effectively reached the tipping point where they were no longer solely about gaming, their other leisure platforms were just as important.
How do you consistently find the right man or woman for the job?
By developing a very clear picture of the type of person the client is looking for. In some instances even researching the type of person the client may not have automatically thought of but who would ultimately be a sustainable, long-term, high-value candidate choice.
What advice would you give to people who want a future in the gambling market?
You can now split gaming into two clear sections – conventional gaming which now includes so much more than mere gambling (as per China Sands). In this instance it is imperative to start at the foundations, get to know the industry by working at any level you can, from croupier to support staff. There is little point coming into the sector without first having experienced its quirks first hand. For the online gaming sector, this is less necessary, however an obvious fluency with IT and digitalization is invaluable.
If you could turn back time and prepare to be head hunted. What would be the most important top five things you would need to work on?
Preparation is key and creating awareness of who you are, In this day and age this is so much easier to achieve and yet conversely can go very wrong if your digital footprint is not carefully thought through. A detailed CV which stands up to rigorous scrutiny is just as important as ensuring your digital identity corroborates your claims.
Olaf Gueldner was the successful appointee? Take us through the selection process.
We broke the search down into international groups, consumer groups, and product groups and finally into Asian experience. The level of granularity was intense, so too the cross-referencing to find the type of person whose profile we had created after our initial briefing. There is no room for compromise or any weak links – we were determined the right person was out there – we just needed to find them!
Once you find these people for organizations such as Sands, is that it or do they then take the candidate through an internal selection process?
We produce a short list for our client and occasionally this includes considering internal candidates, however, an outstanding candidate generally stands out automatically from the rest.
When recruiting for gambling companies how do the various markets differ (Asian, Europe, Australasia, America) from your perspective?
They are very localized – we are starting to see some fusion but it is slow.
What skills and attributes are you looking for when you start looking?
A proven successful track record, a strategic thinker and someone with business gravitas alongside cultural experience.
Is gambling industry experience a MUST have, or do you find exceptional candidates that don’t the experience, and take them anyway?
Nowadays it is less essential although they obviously have to have a strong empathy for the sector – gaming is quite an emotive industry, candidates need to be able to reflect this.
How important is it to be bilingual these days?
English is still the dominant language, although European languages are becoming more in demand.
Give me a few examples of how recruitment policy has altered in line with changes in the gambling markets.
It has become much more professional and more systematic. Due diligence is stricter – the entire industry is more business like.
Neal Wyman and James Theodore specialise in board appointments in the Private Equity, Leisure, Hospitality and Gaming sectors, and can be found at www.tyzackpartners.com.