Dolly Bascou Sananes, Winner of the 2019 Clarion-AGEM-ECA EDP Gender Diversity Scholarship, Discusses the Importance of Diversity in Hospitality/Gaming
Dolly Bascou Sananes, director of marketing and communications, gaming operations at Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer in Monaco, Monte Carlo, was the recipient of the 2019 Clarion-AGEM-ECA EDP Gender Diversity Scholarship. Here she discusses diversity in Europe and the United States, her career trajectory, and what life and leadership lessons she learned at the 2019 Executive Development Program.
Please describe your background and how you got to where you are today.
Before I worked in gaming, I worked the hospitality sector more generally. In 1999, I began my career as a conference and events coordinator at the Hôtel de Paris, and in 2005, I had the chance to be on the opening team of a brand new integrated resort in Monte Carlo. It wasn’t until 2010 that I begin working in gaming operations.
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about gaming operations at the time, and I had to learn a little bit each day. It was fascinating. And now, I’ve worked my way up into the position I’m in now—head of marketing and communications for Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer. We own four casinos—including Casino de Monte-Carlo, the main one, the one everyone knows—and also four hotels, spas, night clubs, restaurants, bars, and various other casinos.
How did you find out about EDP and the Clarion-AGEM-ECA EDP Gender Diversity Scholarship?
I learned about the scholarship because my boss, vice president of gaming operations, is on the European Casino Association Board (ECA), and I was interested in applying because one of my colleagues attended the program in 2018 and spoke highly of it. Eight women in total applied for the scholarship from all over Europe, and I was humbled when I found out I won.
Did EDP meet your expectations?
Absolutely. EDP is an incredible human adventure, an incredible human experience. I can’t begin to count how many cultures and nationalities were represented in the conference rooms and classrooms. The diversity alone makes the program worth attending. And then also, the skills we learn, all the tools that are given to us by the lecturers, it’s a great opportunity. It’s very nice to feel like a student again, you know? I would have really enjoyed to stay one week more.
So how will EDP affect your leadership style when you return home?
Maybe the biggest thing I will take away from EDP is a renewed energy for professional development opportunities for myself and my team. Back home, we all have a lot of work and don’t want to travel much because we have so much to do in the office. It’s a shame though because I feel more refreshed and more productive after attending EDP.
Because of EDP, I will insist that my employees are able to pursue scholarships and programs to improve their skills—particularly programs that require traveling to a new place. Part of what made this program so special was the new location—as a bonus, I got to experience another culture and improve my English. A goal I’ve set for myself as a leader is to see the individuals on my team growing professionally and personally. It would be a huge achievement for me to see each of my team members eventually move on and up into higher leadership roles.
Would you send any of your team to this program specifically?
This one and other ones, depending on what their area of interest is. On my team I have product managers and gaming operations professionals, so EDP would be very good for them. But I also have a communications manager, a graphic designer, and two event managers, so I’d push them to explore professional development opportunities in those areas.
Why is diversity important to you, especially in the gaming and hospitality industry?
Diversity, especially in this sector, is important to me because in 1990s Monaco, women could not access certain jobs. For example, at the very beginning of my career, there were no female dealers in Monaco—or very few. And when I say “few,” I mean there might have been one female concierge and that’s it. Because I started my career in a primarily male-dominated industry and worked my way up, diversity and equal access to career opportunities for all women is important to me.
From your experience, are there any major differences in the ways diversity is perceived in Monaco versus the United States?
In the past, I felt that English-speaking countries were more advanced compared to other countries on issues of diversity—more open minded. To me, English-speaking countries kind of paved the way for diversity, and even though we still have a long way to go, we’re all now on the right track.
How can EDP improve the ways we incorporate diversity into our program?
I can see by the lecturers that EDP works hard to incorporate diversity into the curriculum. If you want to improve, maybe try sharing on your website and on social media the success of the female graduates of your program. But overall, we [myself and the other attendees] can see that you do everything you can to create a diverse culture—from the lecturers to the attendees to your philosophy.
This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.