News | March 31, 2023
As part of Women’s History Month, Sands is featuring women who have contributed to the company’s success and exemplify its culture of professional growth and advancement.
DeVonne Iao joined Sands China in 2010 and is the company’s newly appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer. She provides thoughts about her career trajectory, Sands China resources that have helped her succeed and advice for women in pursuing professional goals.
Outline your career path prior to and at Sands China.
“I have been in marketing for a long time; it started nearly 30 years ago with a part-time job as a promoter handing out product samples on street corners while I was in college in the United States. After graduating from university, I worked in a variety of marketing roles including the first generation of database marketing. I’m originally from Macao and returned to Macao in 2006 to be closer to my family and for new career opportunities. I have worked for half of the integrated resort operators in Macao and found Sands China (SCL) as my home. In 2010, I started as executive director of The Venetian Macao brand. Shortly after I joined the company, I was promoted to vice president of brand marketing and advertising, overseeing the entire portfolio of SCL’s brands. As of April 1, I will serve as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. I have been with Sands for 13 years now and plan to stay here for much longer.
What skills, trainings, mentors and experiences helped you build a successful career?
I am passionate about learning. I love learning about people and culture, particularly on how they communicate, interact and make decisions. This is probably the reason for why I feel such a sense of belonging at SCL. It is in the Sands DNA to be pioneering; we have an inquisitive, adventurous and innovative spirit. And we are blessed to have a management team that encourages Team Member development. I am especially thankful to Dr. Wilfred Wong [SCL president and executive director] and Grant Chum [SCL chief operating officer and executive director] for their support and guidance and allowing me to fulfill my academic dreams while working full time. I have now completed my studies and earned my doctorate degree from University of Southern California.
In addition, I am grateful that I have been able to participate in a number of key projects and property openings over the years; these opportunities allowed me to learn new skills, grow my experience and elevate my knowledge base. It was exceptionally valuable for me to be part of the tender preparation team that successfully secured a new concession for the next 10 years. SCL has consistently and continuously developed new properties, products, services and experiences to trend with market interests and consumer preferences, and this aspect of the company keeps me motivated as I’m a person who seeks to be stimulated intellectually and creatively, so the constant flow of new projects keeps me on my toes. With a full understanding and appreciation of the company’s future development plans for Macao, I am excited to turn to the next chapter and stand ready to welcome new challenges.
What advice can you give to women specifically or anyone who wants to advance in their careers?
I would say don’t be complacent. Work strategically to become an expert in your area of trade, continuously hone your skills and carve a niche to build your brand. A wise man once told me to spread the wealth of my knowledge, share my ideas and don’t be afraid that people will take them as their own; view that as a compliment. A shared and collaborated idea is often one that will be recognized and implemented. It is also more joyful to celebrate success with your team rather than by yourself. More importantly, try to always enjoy what you do and treasure the journey, even though it gets treacherous at times.
Also, you should be clear about what you want, stay your course and believe in yourself. Although subjectivity and emotions are unavoidable as human nature, we ought to be analytical when making decisions, and always cite data, evidence and authoritative sources to support our recommendations. Personally, I’m always mindful of this by academic training and trade, but considering the persistence of gender stereotyping despite the provision of equal opportunities in workplaces for women, every bit of objectivity we instill in our actions will help reshape negative gender perceptions. With this said, as women, we should accentuate our positive perceptions; we are compassionate, empathetic and great listeners. Listening, acknowledging and respecting the words, views and opinions of others are vital to our success. If others are willing to give us the time and tell us their thoughts, we should appreciate it and embrace it.
At the end of the day, don’t forget to keep the priority of going to sleep relaxed and waking up happy for the next day.
What are your ideas for evolving the workplace to better support and empower women?
The first thing that comes to mind is mentoring, which I believe our company is already doing. Having women in leadership positions mentor our younger, aspiring female staff in the organization can provide powerful guidance, support and connections for their career development and personal growth.
Regularly bringing in notable female speakers can enrich the global views of our colleagues; these stories of success, failure and triumph can inspire everyone.
Educating and purposefully training our female employees on a consistent basis not only will up-skill them; it will also show them that they matter to us, and they are valued.
Lastly, I believe that actively promoting women, their work and accomplishments in all relevant media channels will enhance the necessary visibility to further the efforts of empowering women. So, I thank the company for this opportunity to be featured. And as a marketer, I would like to help further these efforts and love nothing more than to profile the many female executives in our company in various internal and external media platforms to better empower women everywhere.