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Rick Darnold: The Power of Higher Education
Vice president of strategic sourcing, Boyd Gaming • Las Vegas native • Board member with Huntridge Teen Clinic • Involved with Teach for America, United Way, and UNLV Foundation • UNLV advisory board member, donor, and guest lecturer
Darnold had a rocky start in college, thanks to too much skiing and too little studying. He came back to Las Vegas, where his dad worked in a casino and his mom taught fourth grade. Soon, though, he had the epiphany that led him back to college. He’s now something of a fix-it guy. He has touched many aspects of Boyd Gaming’s operations, including finance, tax, insurance, and treasury management. He currently oversees the increasingly complicated processes for buying more than $500 million worth of goods and services.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was out running a crew, building a swimming pool, and it was 110 degrees. I decided that I had to do something different — I had to get an education.
UNLV was the obvious choice. I wanted to get a quality education from the best university that I could. My mom was one of UNLV’s first graduates, and my family was entrenched in the community. I really didn’t want to go out of state.
At Boyd Gaming, we’ve had to rethink how we’re doing business. We see how a university supports our growth. A decade ago, if you were a good shopper, very cost-conscious and interested in procurement, you could work your way into a position as a buyer.
Now we need people who can do market analysis and performance measurements, and work as part of a team. I’m interviewing and hiring people with MBAs. I need thought leaders.
We look for people who learned, like I did at UNLV, to approach problems differently, to see solutions, and to bring innovation and creativity to the process.
As I get older, I view the importance of what the university does for the community much differently. In the past, the university was just a mechanism for me to get a degree and a job.
I’ve come to learn the value the university plays in making the community better — attracting the right businesses, building an educated workforce, and keeping our best students here. Being involved with a variety of organizations, I see it’s all about building a stronger community in Southern Nevada.
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