I was destined for the hospitality industry.
I became an avid skier at a young age and thought I could get a great job at a ski resort hotel someday.
I was also interested in customer service. I think I obtained this from my dad, who loved to help people and, as a funeral director, provided the final moment of customer service to grieving families.
I started at Trump Castle as the lowest position on the casino floor — a pit clerk tracking player ratings and cutting chips.
I really enjoyed the casino jobs because it let me see many different aspects of the hospitality business.
Back in the early 1990s, the industry was growing quite a bit, especially in Atlantic City. Casinos made much more money than regular hotels. There were higher margins and revenues, and it was glitzier than regular hotels.
I remember my first summer at Trump Castle. They had a marina where very wealthy individuals would come in on their yachts from New York City. I would get a call to get a table ready for so-and-so to play a $15,000 hand at blackjack. For an 18-year-old kid, that was impressive to see.
I moved to Resorts International in Atlantic City and got heavily into entry level analytical roles before moving a few casinos up the boardwalk to Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino where they had a deal to pay for employees to get their master’s degrees.
I went to business school part-time at New York University while also working. I would take a casino bus from Atlantic City to New York throughout the week for 31 / 2 years. I did some customer research on the way as I sat with 65-year-old customers in the wee hours of the morning.
When gaming giant Harrah’s Entertainment acquired Showboat, I managed to stay on with the new company. They sent me to a property in the Midwest — a river boat on Lake Michigan that had four decks.
I knew it would be good to get out of southern New Jersey and broaden my perspective. I think that one of the keys to being successful is to expose yourself to new conditions.
Eventually, I became director of planning and analysis where I held all the customer, financial and marketing strategy data that Harrah’s was acquiring. A lot of the senior executives counted on me and felt really comfortable getting that transfer of knowledge. I built a good name for myself.
I ended up leading the financial division for the whole Eastern market working on developmental properties from Canada to the Bahamas.
I took an opportunity to go to a property outside of Philadelphia because they ran into some accounting issues that I helped clean up.
That gave me direct accounting exposure. I also got direct customer contact exposure. I oversaw the whole cashiering department for the casino cashiers. I played cashier for a few nights so that I could understand my employees and know how to improve. In the span of five months, we increased customer satisfaction by 25 percent.
I understood the value of being a visible leader. I look forward to continuing that in my new role.
The performance of the Maryland Live property is amazing. I want to be part of the largest casino in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s great to be part of a great winning team.
Senior vice president and chief financial officer of Maryland Live Casino, a commercial casino in Anne Arundel, Md.
Career highlights: Vice president of finance, Harrah’s Chester Casino Racetrack; vice president of financial planning and analysis, Harrah’s Eastern Division.
Education: BA, hotel administration, Cornell University; MBA, New York University
Personal: Lives in Anne Arundel County with his wife and three children.