I’ve never been a fan of Vegas, especially since I don’t gamble and I have only spent a few days there for a work event. However, when a classmate asked me if I was interested in taking Operations of Entertainment in Las Vegas with the esteemed Professor Harry Chernoff, I definitely considered it though I was skeptical if I’d actually enjoy it. As I’ve mentioned in pervious posts, one of the goals of business school was to keep an open mind and try new things. That’s exactly what I accomplished when I enrolled in this course!
For a week, myself and 30 other students experienced Las Vegas in an extremely unique way. Yes, we saw shows, went to casinos and watched the famous Bellagio fountains, but we experienced these as experts, not tourists. Before we left for the trip, we each selected a topic to research, wrote a paper on it and shared it with the rest of class. This exercise served a great purpose – we were able to ask informed, in-depth questions – not just the basics when we arrived in Vegas.
We went behind the scenes of the Cirque du Soleil O show, watching the actors practice and learning the intricacies of how the show runs first hand. Understanding the science behind how the theatre was constructed from an engineer who had been working the show for the last 10 years was riveting. We then came back a few hours later and had amazing seats to enjoy the show!
We saw the back-of-house for not one, but two casinos, observing how the thousands of staff members move within the building and optimize internal processes. We even visited a coveted Bellagio Villa that spanned over 12,000 square feet. Supposedly the villa we toured was where George Clooney stayed during the filming of Oceans Eleven! We ended our tour of the Bellagio with a screening of the Bellagio foundation from a VIP viewing area literally on the lake.
We also met some amazing individuals, including Mike Sexton, World Series of Poker Champion and Lorenzo Fertitta, entrepreneur and owner of UFC. These were just a few of the individuals who came to share with their expertise with us, Stern MBA students.
It was an amazing week and I definitely left out the myriad of other amazing events and professional we met, but I highly recommend taking an experiential learning class that forces you out of the classroom at Stern! Las Vegas is so much more than just gambling and casinos – it’s a city that has perfected the operations of entertainment.