At the time I am writing this, I still don’t know who will be our next President. Certainly that outcome would influence anyone’s year in review, not to mention any other crazy things happening after I write this. But even until now I have had a busy year. You can see how busy if you follow my writings in my blog (https://rarpin.wordpress.com/) or on twitter (@realrickarpin); there you would see the twists and turns, amazing highs and lows, achievements and things still unfinished, some personal, some professional, all real for sure. Like all of you, this thing called life is a work in progress.
Here are a few things I reflect most on for the year:
Building a Team
Most important to me in my work life is our entertainment division at MGM Resorts. I have been lucky enough to get to build three teams in my time at MGM Resorts. The first was our financial reporting team which started with one employee – me. I am proud that all these years later, it is a highly functioning team of almost 10 professionals that has developed talent, some of which has spread to other parts of the organization. Then I helped build our shared services team for finance. It was about 10 folks when I started and is now about 400 handling all the accounting transactions for the company. I learned so much, mostly from the team that reported to me, an amazing group of dedicated and passionate experts. Finally, is the entertainment division. Like our shared services team, we are bringing together various disciplines that already existed across the company, adding resources to give us scale and processes to make us a lean, mean machine. My focus is on ensuring my leadership team has the skills and resources needed for our transformation into a much larger entertainment company – they are already experts in their field so my job is to help us create the right vision and culture to amplify those skills for bigger projects.
Finishing One Project, On To The Next One
Multi-tasking has certainly taken its lumps over the past few years. Our company is one that wants to be active, and doesn’t like to celebrate victories too long before getting back in the game. This sometimes leads to “overlap” between one project ending and others beginning. So while our team took a minute to celebrate opening T-Mobile Arena, we have to be able to manage multiple priorities … like two new theaters opening in December … oh, and opening a world-class arena doesn’t stop at opening night, plenty of work still to do.
So linking back to the first item on my list, part of what we are trying to do is ensure our team has the resources, skills and processes to manage the multiple priorities, and add resources needed to ensure we don’t all go crazy and burn out.
Las Vegas Grows Up
As a Las Vegas native, it is fantastic to see us pay attention to important things we have basically neglected as I was growing up. The Smith Center opened a few years ago and added much needed culture to our valley. Many private citizens and corporations contributed and partnered to make us a “big league” city in that area of entertainment and culture. Many continue that work in the arts. Our government finally put some muscle to the education problem in the state two years ago. At MGM Resorts, we were able to work with a great partner AEG and give our city a world-class arena, which we were missing despite the number of facilities in the market. And Bill Foley made the ultimate investment when he committed to bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas. I don’t think any of us in Las Vegas realize how thankful and grateful we should be to this man, who had no significant local ties before this process, for doing what he has done. I hope you realize it when it comes time to show up and root your a** off for his (OUR) team.
On The Right Path
My personal life sometimes took a back seat to work this year given all of the above. But I am trying my best to ensure I am being a good family member, friend and in another milestone this year – husband. I’ve done this before, not successfully unfortunately. I know I am in a better place as a person now than ever before, even though I still have a lot of work to do. As I said, this thing is a work in progress. Good news though – as I continue the journey I will have some amazing, irreplaceable and emotional memories from this year. Seeing The Killers on stage April 6, and enjoying the moment with an incredibly hardworking and passionate team, the realization of a dream 10 years in the making. Watching the press conference announcing NHL in Vegas on June 22. Crying as my bride walked down the aisle on May 14. These are things I will take with me into 2017 and beyond.
Rick Arpin is the Senior Vice President of Entertainment at MGM Resorts International. He was recently named to Treasure and Risk Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list.