Press Releases / Sonoma County casino general manager wins North Bay Influential Women Awards

Lana Rivera started in the gaming industry at the age of 21 when she was a blackjack dealer at Harrah’s Riverboat Casino in Joliet, Illinois. The single mother of four says having to pay the bills as a parent drove her desire to do and be more.

Is there a major accomplishment that you would like to share?

As I looked to rise through the ranks, I realized that the gaming industry had been a man’s world. I saw few women in mid-level management and fewer still in leadership roles. Despite these challenges, I continued to climb rung by rung from a card dealer to senior table games manager then director of gaming operations. My ambition and resilience brought me to director of casino operations and eventually general manager.

I am also very proud of inventing two patent-protected casino products: a card-based variation of craps and a lighted phone charger (one of the first such devices introduced on the gaming floor).

What were the biggest obstacles you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

Only four months into my new position as General Manger the world shut down (because of COVID). We were the first casino in Northern California to close and did not reopen for 92 days. I was responsible for 1,900 team members. Having to make the decision to furlough our team was the hardest for me, especially laying off new team members within their first 90 days. But I was able to keep health benefits intact and reopen with most of the same staff.

What advice would you give to young professionals who strive to be great leaders entering your profession or the work world today?

If you’re looking for advancement, be humble and be the best at what you do. Be willing to make sacrifices, stay focused, and stay hungry. Be patient and remember that growth and opportunity will come. Give yourself time to master your craft.

What have you learned about your leadership and how will it change the way you lead going forward?

Empathy is vital. Genuinely care about your team and show it at all levels. Recognize everyone that you support and who supports you. Sometimes it’s easy to say ‘I don’t have time.’ But it’s always important to make the time.

(Source: North Bay Business Journal)

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