Human resources professional brings insight to gaming industry
Mona Vaccarella brings more than a quarter century of experience in executive human resources management to her role as vice president of human resources at Majestic Star Casinos & Hotel in Gary.
As a new member of the BusINess advisory board, Vaccarella says she sees an opportunity to “communicate on very important topics and lend solutions.” The recession has challenged both businesses and individuals, and how they have dealt with a bad economy can provide lessons for the future, she says.
“Management needs to be ahead of the curve, to be proactive. I see my role as helping to promote suggestions about how corporations can be ahead of the curve as we emerge from this recession,” Vaccarella says.
That’s a role that she believes human resources should always play in the corporate culture. “We (human relations professionals) achieve results by being a strategic partner at the table,” she says.
What human resources professionals can bring is perspective by looking at organizational structure and organizational efficiencies, Vaccarella says, adding she’s been privileged to play that role in a variety of internationally-recognized industries such as Citigroup, UBS, Burston-Marsteller/Young & Rubicam and Pfizer Inc.
“I took on responsibility where no one else would go,” she says. “With every situation, I walked into an environment I didn’t know and I succeeded.”
Immersing herself in all the aspects of a business gave Vaccarella that perspective. While at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, for example, she accompanied representatives on their sales calls all over the country.
During her career, Vaccarella has gained experience in manufacturing, financial markets, public relations and marketing. In 1998, she began consulting with the gaming and hospitality venues across the globe as an entrepreneur. She became a founder and managing partner of Gaming Hospitality Experts LLC and a managing member of Casino Careers Online.
Gaming Hospitality Experts formed a business alliance in Asia with Biglot Resource Development Ltd. in Macau and mainland China and AGMI International Casino College in Singapore to expand on services provided to Asian clientele. Casino Careers Online provided a web board and resume builder for those in the gaming and hospitality industry.
When the economy plummeted in 2008, Vaccarella says she decided to leverage an industry she knew and joined Majestic Star Casinos & Hotel.
“This has been the most robust experience professionally and personally,” she says. “Larry Buck (general manager and senior vice president of Majestic Star in Gary), is one of the most brilliant, passionate guys in the industry.”
Majestic Star has put a number of successful programs in place over the past year, Vaccarella says.
“We’re rolling out training programs,” she says. “In a bad economy, the first things to go are training and development programs.” But these programs are vital to recruit the best employees for the job, she adds.
Vaccarella says she uses an Attribute Index to assess potential employees and current employees for move-up positions.
“People are a top assess in an organization. In order to maximize this important asset, an organization has to identify and understand the talents of its workforce,” Vaccarella says. The Attribute Index assesses the way a person makes decisions and interacts with the environment around him or her. It also assesses how individuals perceive themselves, she says.
When an organization needs leaders for example, she says, “If they don’t have a passion for doing that, they don’t need to be in that position.”
Majestic Star has also instituted ways to reward and recognize employees for doing an exemplary job, Vaccarella says.
“You need to nurture employees for continued learning. They need to be rewarded and shown potential career paths,” she says. “We are unique in that we celebrate employee successes every month at a special gathering. And these are employees who interact with our patrons - dealers, security guards, beverage servers, food service employees.”
Majestic Star has also rolled out special rewards programs for its patrons and according to the monthly revenue figures from the Indiana Gaming Commission, the two Majestic Star casinos at Buffington Harbor are drawing more customers.
“We cater to multi-generational patrons,” she says.
Vaccarella says she has a passion for helping organizations gain efficiencies and become more profitable in various areas such as assessing generational workforce and organizational structure, defining the tools to assess performance and employee engagement, strategic recruitment initiatives, compensation and benefit evaluations, leadership development/assessment and customer satisfaction and loyalty programs.
To get the word out, Vaccarella hosts roundtable discussions for human resource professionals and is an internationally-acclaimed speaker and author.
These panels and keynote speaking engagements include those at the U.S. Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, the National Indian Gaming Association and the Asian Gaming symposiums.
Vaccarella is also a contributing author of the new series “Quick Takes” that provides career seekers and employers with an essential guide on embracing generational differences when looking for a new position or in managing the workforce.
“I pride myself on being visible in the public eye, making speeches,” she says.
As a part of the management team at Majestic Star Casinos & Hotel, Vaccarella is bringing her vast experience to the Northwest Indiana business world.