What was the process that led you to join Caesars Entertainment’s board? Did you know people in management or on the board?
I was recruited via an executive search firm that consisted of an initial screening via the search firm followed by interviews with each member of the nominating committee, an interview with the chairman and also with the CEO. After the formal interviews, references were provided and I was thoroughly vetted through reference checks and an initial background check. I did not know any members on the board or management.
Why did you decide to join this particular board, and what are your criteria generally for accepting board appointments?
Caesars is a company undergoing transition and transformation and joining the board at this time provides a unique opportunity to shape the strategic direction of the company and contribute to the company’s mission to inspire grown-ups to play by focusing on increasing brand attachment and engagement. The breadth of the Caesars’ portfolio with destinations across four continents offering a broad range of entertainment options and experiences was of considerable interest. My criteria for joining a board includes operating in a growth Industry with a leading market position within the category they compete, a global, values-based company. I evaluate the members of the board that I will be working with to ensure a cultural fit.
Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy in 2017, is this something you considered before taking the appointment?
I evaluated the Caesars subsidiary restructuring as part of my due diligence, and determined that Caesars Entertainment had emerged from the process with renewed opportunities for growth and innovation.
You have a rich background at major manufacturers and in the food industry, how do you think being on a board of a gambling and leisure firm will differ? What will your experience bring to the table?
Caesars Entertainment is in the business of delighting consumers by providing immersive experiences through the variety of platforms they offer today and in the future. Caesars is also about building powerful brands that are relevant and resonant to the consumers they serve. My experience in building powerful brand franchises is a skill set that will be additive to the current board composition. Additionally, experience as a board member on a Fortune 100 company will also bring expertise to the creation of shareholder value.
There has been quite a bit of upheaval in the hospitality sector, particularly related to the #MeToo movement, is there something women directors can bring to the discussion to mitigate the fallout?
The #MeToo movement that started in 2018 has elevated awareness of the issue and subsequent mitigating actions to address sexual harassment in the workplace. As a director, irrespective of gender, ensuring there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment and providing a safe haven for individuals to come forward to ensure a safe and respectful workplace is maintained is of paramount importance. I joined Caesars because they represent a values-based organization that is committed to its employees and the social welfare of others as evidenced by the recent global commitment to eradicate exploitation of vulnerable individuals.
Do you think we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equity in the boardroom?
I think we are making progress and it is clearly one of the top corporate governance trends for 2019 with an aim of female representation on boards to reach 30% of public company boards. Caesars Entertainment’s progress in this area speaks to this trend with the recent appointment of two female directors taking the ratio from 0% to 17%.
What advice would you give someone looking to sit on a board?
Choose an industry and business that you are passionate about and carefully understand the dynamics in the boardroom to ensure that the board is a high-functioning board. The integrity and caliber of the people you work with matters, so be selective and don’t jump at the first opportunity because joining a board is a marathon not a sprint.