English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

Market Forces

John Globokar President JBK International, speaks to Peter White & Damien Connelly 

2014 was a year of major resort closures and buyouts of leading iconic slot manufacturers. With these significant mergers and buyouts in manufacture and supply come what is commonly termed ‘operational efficiency savings’ which results in employees either being presented an alternative role or made redundant. This process of review within these organizations can take many months so for many these are insecure times.

Please can we commence this interview with a brief history of JBK International, when was it founded and what have been the main aims & ambitions of the organization?

My name is John Globokar, President & CEO of JBK International, LLC. JBK was founded in 2008 and is one of the leading Retained Executive Search Firms in the Casino & Hospitality space. Our team works primarily with the Casino Operators and Manufacturers, providing A+ talent to our clients for mission critical searches. It has been our commitment to provide to our clients only the Top 5% of industry talent for these crucial hires or top grading efforts. JBK International operates in complete confidentiality on searches that range from the Director Level to C-Suite and Board Member positions. Our firm is comprised of a team of researchers, operations and project coordinators. JBK International is built for success on a single critical role and/or 10+ positions for each client.

What advice can you provide to those whom are concerned about job security: should they wait and see, or is there some proactive action they could take in order that they are prepared for the worst?

This is a very interesting question. We have a very different view of the world compared to most. My advice to anyone in our industry would be: always operate under the assumption that you have no job security. The 5% of the industry that we work with are able to rest easy at night knowing their job security is a function of their production and results. Are there exceptions to this rule? Sure. Which is why I would always council anyone to keep their options open. If you are sitting in your office reading this interview thinking you have a great job, a ton of security and growth potential … you need to answer the phone when someone like me calls to discuss another opportunity. Think of it this way: What is the cost of talking? Nothing. What is the cost of not taking that call and losing out on a life-changing career opportunity? Everything.

My other comment is … be authentic. Many of the most successful people we work with have created job security by going against the grain in their respective role. Let’s take Marketing for example. My firm has placed incredible talent with clients that are willing to embrace fresh new ideas from the Marketing Executive, within struggling or stagnant markets. These are the people that can push back when they feel a new idea or plan could be the key to taking market share away from their competitors. Don’t be afraid to make the tough decision or execute a well thought out plan.

With all these buyouts there is likely to be a lot of experienced executives looking for work. They may consider other roles in other industries. If so, what steps should they take in assisting with their chances of gaining employment with organizations in, for example, the IT industry or online gaming?

Our swimlane at JBK International is Gaming focused and for us to provide insight on another industry would be irresponsible. Over the years, I have been asked this very question a number of times. I am comfortable with pointing these folks in the direction of friends that I’ve built relationships with that own search firms in other industries, which is always helpful to executives looking for a fresh start. Regardless, if the people in this situation are going to remain in gaming or look elsewhere, I’ve suggested that they be incredibly flexible on title and compensation. Keep in mind; you’re only worth what a company is willing to pay you. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many executives that are now free agents price themselves out of the market, based only on what they “used to make”. The world has changed. Those that remain rigid and unwilling to be flexible remain on the street as free agents much longer than those willing to take a haircut and bet on themselves in a new company.

What tips and advice have you for updating resumes?

The best advice that I would give is to dust it off and update it at least once a year. I have a few theories behind this. One being, it serves as an opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments from the prior year. The second is you don’t want to wake up one day and receive a request for a resume and it hasn’t been touched in 5 years. It is easy to forget about some of the smaller accomplishments, which can carry the same weight in many cases as the larger accomplishments.

During an interview what advice would you give to candidates that assists with gaining the role?

Do your research on the company, the people conducting the interview. We believe in telling candidates to interview as though you’re interviewing for the next title up the foodchain. So if you’re interviewing for a Director level position, act as though you’re interviewing for a VP role. Companies like to see runway for growth in anyone they are hiring. Be yourself and never disingenuous. It is a challenge for some executives to interview after just having been a casualty of an acquisition or merger. It’s often a challenge to find the confidence needed to be successful in an interview. For these folks, I would say, rest on your accomplishments and what assets you bring to the table. Your ability to convey your capabilities to an interview panel will produce confidence.

Your organization will likely receive a lot of resumes on a daily basis. What are the key aspects you look for in a winning resume?

I like to see growth. Everyone starts somewhere, right? To be able to show steady growth and development is critical. Going from a large company or large property to a smaller one, but with a bigger title or increased responsibility is great. Too often candidates get caught up in the size of the company on the resume. If your current employer or company you’re considering can offer you additional exposure and responsibility, taking a step back in company size is often the best way to develop your career. For me, I do not like to see job-hopping. Our clients expect us to surface candidates that can display stability. We look at a resume with 5 companies in 7 years as a candidate that will look for the next shiny object at the first sight of a challenge. If there has been reasonable movement on a resume, it is understandable. As long as you have a good story to tell as to why you made each move (every company will ask), you’ll be okay.

These people whom have been made redundant are highly competent at the roles and responsibilities so I guess you would agree that maintaining a positive outlook works well in these situations?

I would agree, yes. However this can be a dangerous situation. If your company is acquired and two companies are now being blended together, maintaining a positive outlook is important. But the realistic outlook is the important of the two. I would say an acquisition that has taken place a year ago or sooner, you have to have laser focus on the environment around you. More often than not, you’ll be able to see the train coming down the track – you just have to look for it. I tell people in any situation to look for the positive … at work, at home – in anything you do.

In your opinion do you think the Wall Street ‘bigger is better’ is best for innovation in this highly innovative industry?

This is a question that has so many layers and tentacles. I think this answer must be dictated by your market. How often have we seen the mega casino property go up in a market that has unstable footing, only to file bankruptcy or struggle mightily? Bigger is often a recipe for disaster. Let’s use the US regional market as an example. These are markets that often have 2, 3, sometimes as many as 8+ players in a given jurisdiction. The properties are all fighting for the same customer … so who wins? This is simple. The property that can adjust quickly and operate very lean. I could spend all day dissecting this question, but the other critical component is what you offer to the consumer. Too many operators manage their properties from a balance sheet perspective, the Money Ball approach. While you can make the argument that the balance sheet is the most important aspect of any business, I would say 1(a) is the product that is offered to the customer. Regardless of how large or small the property is, if the customer feels they are being offered an authentic, genuine and customer service driven product, you’ll have a customer for life. If we talk about the manufacturing side of the business, I would say yes – bigger is better. Today’s consumer is driven by more visual stimulation and more video game-like interaction. Today has to be the future for the manufacturing companies to have any kind of staying power.

As the casino industry is a niche market, working overseas is an option. What aspects should people take into consideration when applying for an international based position?

The biggest consideration is why the move? Most of the candidates that we’ve placed from the US market to an International location are motivated by the challenge and growth opportunity. An International opportunity can offer a whole new set of challenges that most wouldn’t face here in the US. I often hear people say, “the location of the property or company doesn’t matter … a casino is a casino.” This could not be any further from reality. Do your homework and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. I would strongly suggest that you reach out to as many people as you can that have made a similar move and what pains they felt during the transition and getting acclimated.

How can one get in touch with you and your firm?

Several ways. Our office number is 440.944.9800 or they can email me directly at jglobokar@jbk-intl.com. I would also welcome anyone to take a look at our website at www.jbk-intl.com for additional information and the ability to confidentially send us your resume.