Imagine yourself walking through a casino, looking at a floor filled with slot machines. While you might be considering which one to play—or holding on to your money while trying to avoid the lure of all the blinking and dinging—you've probably never considered why one casino has Double Diamond and another has Cash Reel.
Turns out, it's not by chance. Just ask Nathan Armogan, who started his career at Caesars Entertainment as Director of Slot Revenue Management. His department's task? To decide what new machines to buy and how to distribute them across casinos nationwide using rigorous data calculations.
“It was illuminating in terms of getting a sense of what markets have the highest returns for slot capital," he says. Sometimes “a new machine generates a higher return and in other places a new machine essentially cannibalizes the rest of the floor."
Nathan, a South African native who loves math, enjoyed his role in a demanding analytical environment. But what he didn't know when he joined is that it would serve as a launching pad for an entirely different career path—one that had much more to do with people than it did with numbers.
Follow the Right Leaders to Get Ahead
Nathan eventually moved on to become Director of Gaming Analytics for a new centralized analytics organization at the company. Part of the reason he joined the group was the chance to work with an inspirational leader. Working with his boss in analytics, “I began to understand the power of words," Nathan says. “He could articulate an idea or vision in such a powerful way that you have no choice but to get on board."
After six years working in analytics departments, he was comfortable and had built a good reputation. But he'd always wondered about joining the operations side of the business. Seemingly out of the blue, global president Tom Jenkin suggested that he apply for a completely different role: Assistant General Manager of Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Nathan had no prior experience in operations, but his outgoing personality and emotional intelligence, combined with his solid track record at the company, made him an excellent fit for the job.
Get Ahead by Getting Buy In
As a newcomer, he was met with some healthy skepticism. Of course, he was used to it from his early days at the company; individual properties all want the new machines, especially those in the Midwest, which are more reliant on gaming revenue than those in Las Vegas. But from a corporate perspective, that didn't always make sense. “You have to provide transparency about how you arrive at a particular conclusion," Nathan remembers.
In his new role, he had to build trust and show humility, too. He asked many “dumb questions," leaned on veterans of the property for advice, and made a point to express how much he valued their input. “I had to forge a lot of partnerships," he says. “I can't be successful without the buy in of these people because they have so much knowledge. I try to find a balance of pairing my insights with theirs."
The Most Unexpected Moves Can Be the Best
The Planet Hollywood job has been a gratifying move, Nathan says, that teaches him something new every day. Having worked behind the scenes for years, he loves interacting with people and making a difference. And it shows, as he was promoted again to General Manager of Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
“You don't get to understand the way a business truly works until you're in operations," he observes. “I wasn't getting a full understanding of this complex business in the roles that I was in."
Where Nathan once saw a casino floor through a numerical lens, he now recognizes the human side of the equation. He meets the people dealing cards, making beds, cooking food, or greeting guests. “This is what drives the business," he says. “These are the individuals."