When you think of Wharton, you might not immediately think of the gaming industry, but first-year Wharton San Francisco Executive MBA Program student Joshua Kanter says that it’s a great fit. The senior vice president of revenue acceleration at Caesars in Las Vegas explains that while gaming is a unique industry, his Wharton classes have been very applicable to his role. We asked him to tell us more about his job and experience at Wharton. Here’s what he said:
What does your role at Caesars involve?
I’m responsible for Total Rewards, which is our customer loyalty program. Think of it like a frequent flier program or a frequent guest program, only for us it spans every form of entertainment that you might care about: hotels, gaming, golf, spa, dining, shows, nightlife and shopping. Over the past few years, my role has evolved and grown to also include marketing operations, marketing technology, interactive CRM, Big Data, marketing capabilities, payments and consumer insights. I now supervise 400 people across four cities, and we deliver about 750 million pieces of direct marketing a year. In addition, I oversee some of the “secret sauce” algorithms that power our analytical marketing engine. Basically, I get to do all the fun stuff in marketing.
What is the best part of your job?
My job is to help our customers have a great time, and I find that inspiring. When I was offered the chance to do the kind of marketing that I know and love best at one of the world’s best marketing companies, I jumped at the opportunity.
Why did you want to get an MBA?
My goal is to become a chief marketing officer. I know that I’ll be a much more effective CMO if I truly understand the priorities and disciplines of my peers on the senior management team. I need to understand how everyone — from the CFO and operators to the legal and compliance teams — thinks about business. Wharton’s EMBA program is a great way for me to learn all of that and expose myself to extraordinary people while having a lot of fun preparing for the next step in my career.
How is the commute to San Francisco from Las Vegas?
I worked as a consultant at McKinsey before joining Caesars and typically took four or five flights a week. In comparison, the commute to Wharton is as easy as it gets. I also love spending time in San Francisco.
How relevant has your Wharton education been to your career in the gaming industry?
Surprisingly relevant! While the gaming industry is very unique, the functions taught in my classes have been extremely relevant to my job. For example, in Managerial Accounting, I learned a lot about disaggregating and reporting on sources of variance in my operations group. In addition, I can now go fairly deep with our financial accounting folks. There has been a useful mixture of classes so far. Some are like learning a new language, and others are relatively familiar. But even in the familiar ones, I learn a lot by providing my own unique perspective and hearing the perspectives of my peers.
What has been the highlight of your time at Wharton?
The highlight has been the people. It’s great to learn from doctors, lawyers, technologists, finance folks and entrepreneurs – to name just a few. That has been such a rich experience and I feel fortunate to be part of my class.
How bonded is your class?
Our class enjoys spending time together. I’m on our social committee and we plan a lot of activities. We have happy hours and dinners, and there’s a Running Club that goes out in the mornings before class. We also plan bigger activities as well. We spent a day in Napa together and are planning a ski trip in Tahoe next month. We try to create activities that will engage the whole class, not just those who are the most outgoing.