Education: Cuyahoga Community College, Wright State University, LeMoyne Owen College and Jackson State University
First Job: Gift shop clerk at Associated Inns & Restaurants Company of America, Cleveland, Ohio.
What I'm Reading: Monday Morning Choices—12 Powerful Ways to Go from Everyday to Extraordinary, by David Cottrell
My Philosophy: My philosophy is firmly grounded in always ensuring that everything I do is right for my family, my community and my company as well as the employees that support me each and every day. Giving back to the community where I live and work along with developing and supporting my staff to achieve their personal and professional goals are responsibilities I embrace.
Family: Husband, one daughter
Interests: Travel, dancing, entertaining
Favorite Charities: Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation, a non-profit private corporation dedicated to facilitating the rebuilding of affordable housing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina
Karen Sock • Grand Biloxi
Senior Vice President and General Manager2008 award winner
Over the years, I have learned first-hand the importance of mentoring. I have benefited greatly from the support of leaders at all levels of the organization. I have been fortunate to also have role models in my family and in the various communities in which I have lived and worked. The wisdom others shared with me greatly assisted me in achieving my career goals. As a result, it is a priority in my professional life to help guide others to achieve their personal and professional goals.
The casino industry has given me the opportunity to work in several different locations and markets. I have met and mentored many talented young leaders during my career. It is always rewarding to receive a call and hear of a significant accomplishment a mentee has achieved. I keep in contact with many former co-workers and employees that live all over the country who still call and seek advice and counsel. Today I opened my mail to find a book entitled Fanatically Relentless Customer Service, by Calvin Stovall. Calvin was a student and employee of mine back in the late 1980s, and we still keep in touch.
An important part of mentoring is modeling. I have learned many important lessons on leadership by watching how other great leaders carried themselves and conducted business. It is important to remember that, as leaders, others are always watching us. We must lead by example, treat others with respect and dignity, and be honest and straight forward in our dealings. Successfully providing critical feedback and sometimes delivering news that is not popular is the true test of a good leader.
Mentoring also takes place in group settings. My leadership team routinely discusses and debates important business decisions. Team members challenge each other, bring perspective, and learn. We hold ourselves and each other accountable to perform.
Mentoring is an integral part of being a leader. By being approachable and building strong relationships with all employees, I believe I have built a strong culture where employees are vested in the business and know they are an integral part of its success