What can you tell us about your role and areas of oversight at Isleta Resort & Casino and the resort and casino itself?
As the CFO; I oversee Finance, the Casino Bank (Cage), Purchasing & Receiving, Casino Compliance, IT, and all development projects. Reporting to and directly supporting the CEO, our structure allows me to function more as an operational CFO than you might typically see in this position. My focus is business operations, profitability, expansion, and process and procedure improvement which, while keeping a tight handle on cost control, lets us spend “smart” money. Having IT report to me creates an environment that promotes solid investment choices in technology. As an executive, if you don’t understand how important technology is for your business, then you are missing the boat. If you do it right, it’s worth the investment and if you don’t maintain it and reinvest in it, it can be costly. We have nearly 1100 employees. The property itself is an 80,000 sq. ft. tribal casino, with 1783 slots, 22 tables, a poker room, and bingo making up our gaming offerings. The resort side supports a 201 room resort hotel, spa, indoor/outdoor pool, retail, and 65,000 sq. ft. of convention and meeting space. We also have a separate bowling and arcade facility, a 27-hole PGA golf course, an RV park, and fishing lakes. Recently, we launched a 40 million dollar expansion and renovation project. By taking the lead on this project and several other initiatives I am committed to helping make Isleta Resort & Casino the entertainment & hospitality destination of choice in our area.
What is your take on IT reporting to Finance?
I think it’s a very logical reporting structure. As CFO, I focus on the overall aspects of IT investments and make sure the IT operations support the direction and vision of the property. I leave the details to the Director of IT and his staff, but stay involved enough to understand what IT activity makes the entire property more effective and efficient and that our end user needs are met. While not an IT expert, I like to say I know enough about IT to ask the appropriate questions and determine if the answer I am getting makes sense.
What is your viewpoint of IT’s place in the organization?
Information Technology is NOT just an expensive cost center—it is a critical support operation—if run and supported properly. IT budgets are one of the most important operational budgets in a casino. IT is mission critical, so their budget is also mission critical. Unfortunately, many executives look at IT as just an expensive cost center. I view it as an expensive (smile) opportunity. I believe the IT budget should include a 5-7 year average refresh of the entire system or it falls behind. Our IT budget gained a new focus last year when I came on board and is now second only to slots for our operational CapEx. And yes, we are playing catch-up.
What would be your advice to executives and leaders relating to technology as a topic?
Non-IT leaders need to do two things when addressing technology—(1) understand the technology—don’t just look at IT as an expensive requirement but really understand the technology and how it benefits them, and (2) don’t think that technology will solve operational problems—processes and procedures must work with or without the technology. Technology automates processes, reduces time, eliminates error, and aids in compliance.