News | April 5, 2022
Celebrating Our Female Leaders in Honor of Women’s History Month
As part of Women’s History Month in March, Sands highlighted female leaders who have contributed significantly to the company’s culture and success. Olinda Leung has been with Sands China Ltd. since 2013 in a variety of roles in gaming operations. On April 1, she began a new position with a promotion to vice president of slot operations for five properties and 6,700 machines in Macao, including The Venetian® Macao, The Parisian Macao, The Londoner® Macao, Four Seasons Hotel Macao and Sands® Macao.
Describe your current position and your new role that is beginning, as well as other roles at the company that led you to reaching this new position.
“My new role is to lead the team to develop, implement and conduct ongoing monitoring of the strategic direction of the slots department, to ensure effective communication and execution by the team to maximize revenue, customer experience and team member engagement.
“Previously, I served in slot operations as assistant vice president (across five properties), executive director (across five properties), and director (The Venetian Macao), and in table games projects as associate director.”
What drew you to working in the hospitality industry and for Sands China?
“It was the diversity and opportunities offered by the industry that drew me to it. I relocated back to Macao from Australia in 2007, the year that The Venetian Macao opened. I saw a fast-growing future for the industry in Macao and decided to get my foot in the door. For the next six years, I worked between Australia, Macao, Singapore and Malaysia for two major gaming suppliers, where I gained a lot more insights and interest in the industry.
“I joined Sands China in 2013 when an opportunity was offered to me due to the dynamic background I have about gaming products for both table games and slots. Since then, I have gained significant interest in the company due to its vision and fast-changing nature to meet market requirements. I am very proud to be a part of it.”
How have Sands China’s career development programs helped you rise in your career?
“I have been very lucky to participate in five key career development programs, either directly offered or arranged by Sands China between 2013 to 2021:
- The Casino Exposure Plan, which allowed me to rotate through all casino departments including table games, slots, casino marketing, strategic analysis and cage.
- The Executive Development Program (EDP) by University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) – a program held in Nevada that aims to develop gaming professionals into executives, which helped me broaden my horizons by working with gaming professionals around the world, including in Europe, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Asia.
- The Gaming Management Program by UNLV – a Macao program that provides gaming professionals with the most updated gaming information and skill sets, particularly in slots.
- The Integrated Strategic Leadership Program (ISLP) – a program held in Macao, Portugal and the United States that enables executives to further develop strategic mindsets by understanding market conditions and competitors’ motives and strategies, which enhanced my strategic planning and execution abilities.
- The Sands China Integrated Talent Development Program – a program with the Macau University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.) that develops local Macao talent to diversify their skill sets in their roles. This program helped me better understand myself as a professional via its assessments and provided me with tools to manage my resources in a more efficient way.”
“These programs have not just helped me develop my skill sets and industry knowledge but, even more importantly, helped me to become a better person, professional and leader.”
Is there a specific mentor at Sands China that helped guide you and how did that support help you grow?
“I have been extremely lucky to have had four key mentors who have supported me through different stages of my career at Sands China. The two who have had a major impact on my professional growth are Cetin Tanisman and Sean McCreery.
“I began working for Cetin when I joined Sands China in 2013. I had no casino experience when I first came in as a project associate director. Yet, that did not stop Cetin from providing me opportunities to take on important casino projects, while sending me to other casino divisions to learn and develop myself. Throughout the years, he has sent me to different types of development programs so that I could gain the skill sets and knowledge I needed to do my job and become a better leader. He gave me jobs that grew my capacity and knowledge but also gave me space for trial and error. When help and guidance was needed, he was always the first one to offer it. This atmosphere of trust and open communication that he established was the best motivation and inspiration any executive could offer to their employees.
“I worked with Sean for a very short period between January and June 2019 when I had to step in as a temporary department lead for the first time. During this period, Sean taught me how to build and develop my team, how to best utilize my resources, how to move the business and department forward by challenging the status quo, and, most importantly, how to believe in myself so that I could break through my own ceiling and be better. This journey with Sean, although short, helped transform me from an executor to a true leader for the first time in my career.
“It was these experiences with Cetin and Sean that have prepared me well for taking on my new role as a department head.”
What are your goals in your new position; what impact do you want to make?
“My major goal is to maintain Sands China’s slot market position as the market leader by leading the team to achieve three key missions:
- Safeguarding and steadily regaining our business through key strategy initiatives that maximize our capacity and revenue during difficult times surrounding COVID, license renewal and technical 2.0 (a major regulatory change that impacts all operations in Macao).
- Transforming our frontline Team Members into a customer-centric team through a clear customer experience vision and strategies that increase satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.
- Developing the next generation of leaders for business continuity through sustainable talent development strategies that focus on identifying, developing and retaining the right talent.
“If we do it right, I’m hoping to make a positive impact on our company revenue, customer experience and future leadership.”
Tell us about your work with the Macau Women’s Association.
“I’m currently an executive director of the Macau Women’s Association and responsible for the Association’s Greater Bay Area development division. My main role in the association is to promote the integration of Macao women into the development of the Greater Bay, via close liaison between the Macao and Guangdong offices. We hope that by deepening the cooperation between the two operations, we can help Macao women seize opportunities brought about by the development of the Greater Bay Area to thereby further develop themselves as professionals and well-rounded people.
“I accepted the nomination to join the Macau Women’s Association because it has always been my dream and personal goal to help develop young female professionals who are inspired to better and advance themselves. This is something that I’ve aspired to do since I started my career back in 2007. I believe that if women have as much education and opportunities provided to them, they can always be as successful, if not more, as men. Joining the Macau Women’s Association is a great starting point for me to be able to achieve my dream.”
What advice would you give to women starting their careers in hospitality, or in general?
“I have many, but here are a few key ones:
- Just be yourself – Throughout your career, there will be so many people trying to change you; they will try to tell you who you need to be, how you need to act, what you need to do just so you could fit the “profile.” My suggestion is that, while you have to respect what everyone has to say (because everyone has their opinion), only truly absorb what fits into your own values, principles and beliefs. Throughout my career, I have had so many people tell me that I smile too much and I was too nice because nice girls do not get the corner office. But, I stuck with my true self and just kept working hard because I believe that the only way to succeed is to be genuine, respectful and be a good person.
- Always ask for what you want and work hard for it – So often, people don’t get career development or advancement opportunities – not because they don’t deserve them but because they don’t ask for them. When it comes to the professional world, managing expectations between you, your boss and your team becomes very important. Companies are constantly seeking the next generation of leaders who can support their business continuity. So, if you have the desire to further develop yourself, you will need to put your hand up, and you will have to work hard to show that you deserve the opportunities when they arise because the aspirational and persistent people always stand out.
- Don’t accept no for an answer – Always asking for what you want does not mean that you will always get a “Yes” answer. The point is being persistent and striving for what you want even if you get rejected. Learn from your mistakes and continue to evolve yourself until you succeed. Always remember, “No” is just another way of saying “Think of another alternative.” You will get there.
- Be humble; keep learning and teaching – No matter how successful you become, there will always be someone more successful than you are in terms of professional and personal life. Always be humble and learn from people around you. Use that knowledge and your skill sets to continuously upgrade yourself. And when you have a chance, make sure that you teach those who are more junior and inexperienced because only through teaching will you realize whether you truly understand what you have learned. Through teaching and developing, you’re also giving other young professionals an opportunity to advance their careers. You will realize later in your career that this satisfaction is far beyond what you could ever imagine.
- Last but not least, maintain work-life balance – This sounds so cliché and so easy to say, but trust me that when you’re advancing in your career, work-life balance becomes extremely important, and it’s always easier to say than do. I learned my lesson in 2019 when I became the temporary department head. I felt like I needed to prove myself to be the right selection so I worked 12-14 hours every day for five months straight. I later reflected and realized that I hadn’t really been any more productive than I always had been. But I burned out by not eating and resting properly while negatively impacting my family life. So please just remember that being productive involves more than just working long hours.”