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Rod Smith

Nevadan at Work: Varied Experience, Rich Relationships Make Work Rewarding for Boyd Exec

18 April 2006

Bill Noonan is in charge of administrating the world's third-largest casino company, but he isn't motivated by playing the odds.

Instead, Boyd Gaming Corp.'s senior vice president of administration gets his kicks from the thrill of running a far-flung business enterprise, working with employees to see what makes them tick and having a varied routine that's always a surprise.

Human resources professionals say career management today is all about flexibility, and Noonan illustrates the point.

He was flexible enough to switch from the public sector to the private sector. He spent 18 years in local government, including 15 years in Florida. He jumped to the private sector 13 years ago when he joined Fitzgeralds Gaming Corp.

Answer: We have a design department that does our redesign work for our properties. We have a team that does purchasing when we redesign a property. We do this all in-house.

Question: What has been most challenging about your second career?

Answer: Being on the front line of the hurricane relief effort (at Boyd Gaming). It was really significant (for me) because I knew all the people affected. They were my former employees. It was a very emotional time for me.

Question: What did you do?

Answer: I traveled there. We set up a relief center at Sam's Town Tunica. We took an entire hotel tower of 400 rooms and we set it up to accommodate evacuees. We set up day-care centers for the children. We solicited toys to give the kids things to do.

Question: What happened in the end?

Answer: We raised a lot of money in a relief fund and were able to give money to help the people get their lives re-established. We disbursed more than $500,000.

We have three-quarters of the employees back. We're not open 24 hours (a day) yet. The big problem is finding employees and then finding them suitable housing. There's nowhere for people to live; so much of the housing stock was destroyed.

Question: Why did you move to Las Vegas?

Answer: I was selected out of 348 (candidates) to be general manager of Las Vegas. That turned out to be a good move, even though I never thought I'd end up in the casino business.

Question: What would you change?

Answer: I'd expedite construction of the Silverado Ranch interchange going into our new South Coast. If you live on the west side of the valley, it's a hassle to get there.

Question: What's next?

Answer: I hope to stay in this job until I'm ready to retire. It gives me a chance to work with Mr. Boyd and Keith Smith, the president of our company. And it gives me room to get into a lot of (challenging) situations. I don't plan to leave Las Vegas.