CEO: Scientific Games promoting ‘diverse representation in our leadership’ Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · January 11, 2021 at 7:10 am During her first decade in the gaming industry, Melissa Price didn’t have many female role models or mentors to turn to for advice, even when she was handed the role of general manager at a gaming equipment manufacturer’s sign division. That changed somewhat when she moved to Caesars Entertainment, eventually rising to the position of senior vice president where she led the company’s $6 billion portfolio of slot machines, table games, sports betting, and gaming floor technology. “I had some great male advocates, especially a lot of men raising daughters,” said Price, who joined gaming equipment provider Scientific Games last year as the senior vice president of Global Gaming Operations. Melissa Price, Scientific Games “Those men want to know that when their daughters grow up, they will have the same opportunities and mentors in the business world that men have,” she added. Price hasn’t had to look hard to find female counterparts at Scientific Games. The Las Vegas-based company has filled eight executive-level positions with women who worked their way up the gaming ladder. Cathryn Lai, who serves as senior vice president and general manager of the company’s U.S. Digital Division, has found herself in the male-dominated world of sports betting. Cathryn Lai, Scientific Games It helps that Lai has more than 15 years of experience in new product development and innovation across multiple industries, including gaming. She is involved with expanding Scientific Games’ sports betting management product in an area that is highly competitive. “Sports betting is definitely very male-leadership focused,” Lai said. “But it’s about understanding the technology. You’re seeing more and more companies put women into leadership roles on the technology side. I don’t see any barriers.” Siobhan Lane joined Scientific Games as the company’s chief commercial officer last year just prior to the spread of COVID-19 shutting down casinos nationwide. She’s happy the company acknowledged a lack of diversity in its upper ranks and has taken steps to increase opportunities – a recognition she hopes the gaming industry as a whole will follow. Siobhan Lane, Scientific Games “It’s about finding the best candidates as well as being mindful of diversity and inclusion,” Lane said. “We look beyond where we normally look so that we have a diverse candidate pool to appoint leaders.” Scientific Games CEO Barry Cottle said the company wants to find smart and talented leaders – period. “The gaming industry caters to a diverse group of players and it’s important that we have both diverse representation in our leadership and inclusive teams at all levels of the organization,” Cottle said in an email. “That’s how we will best serve our customers and our players. I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of dynamic teams and their impact on both company performance and culture.” Other female members of Scientific Games’ executive leadership team brought aboard in the last 18 months include Laura Probert, chief people officer for Digital; Connie James, CFO for Gaming; and Eileen Moore Johnson, chief human resources officer; Jennifer Welshons, is a 20-year Scientific Games employee who is now vice president of marketing and insights. Sue Dawson is another long-time Scientific Games employee who is general counsel for Digital. Mentoring new leaders Price, Lai, and Lane agreed that mentoring up-and-coming leaders in the ever-changing gaming industry was important regardless of gender. However, Price observed that “men seem to come at (mentoring) quite naturally, while women don’t for whatever reason.” That’s why, Price added, it’s important for trade groups, such as Global Gaming Women, to continue to provide an active forum and role models. Price noted that Moore Johnson – who also joined Scientific Games from Caesars – was one of the few female top Las Vegas Strip property executives. She served as Caesars’ Regional President for The Cromwell, Flamingo, Harrah’s, and Linq properties, and in a similar capacity for two of the company’s Indiana casinos. “It’s important for whole organizations to provide these mentoring leadership circles,” Price said. “Women need to have role models from whom they can learn from and bounce ideas off of.” Lane, who oversaw marketing at Aristocrat Technologies before joining Scientific Games, added that men also have to be advocates for women who want to advance within the gaming industry. “Men very much have a role in this,” she said. Changing industry COVID-19 has quickened the implementation of new technologies to the casino floor for digital and cashless gaming and payment processing. Like other companies, Scientific Games has been developing mobile wallet technology for cashless payments and gaming systems that incorporate social distancing protocols. Price, who has spent much of her career on the operator side, said casinos “have tried for years to rethink the model.” Now, the adversity brought about by the pandemic is driving innovation. “There is a lot more momentum toward things that have been in play, like keyless hotel room entry or electronic tables games, or cashless wagering,” Price said. “All these things should be important pieces of our business, but they have been harder to get to through the casino operations standpoint.” Price said operators are starting to move toward the technology upgrades that an entire resort would require to implement “an omnichannel ecosystem that the supply side has been talking about for several years.” Lai noted that in the digital world, women are as active users of technology as men, and gambling is no exception. “I think we’re in an amazing position now migrating the players to the digital space,” Lai said. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. 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