Future Workforce Outlook: A Regional SWOT Analysis

Ivo Arkulin

Ivo Arkulin, CFBE

Director of Food and Beverage, PCH Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel

Ivo Arkulin is a hospitality executive possessing over 20 years of industry experience including lodging, restaurants, events, destination management and club management in both North America and Europe.

Since 2005, his lodging career under the Marriott flag took him from Toronto and Calgary in Canada to Houston, New Orleans, and Little Rock prior to assuming his current position at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza.

As a member of property’s Executive Team, Ivo oversees the day-to-day operations of the Food and Beverage division with several departments under his direct supervision. He believes that success is never final and promotes the culture of continuous learning, innovation and improvement.

He enjoys mentoring and developing others to help them reach their professional goals and has been a part of USA HTM’s industry mentor program since 2016.

Ivo holds a BS in Economics, Tourism and International Trade from University of Dubrovnik, Croatia and MS from Rochester Institute of Technology in Hospitality and Tourism Management. 

In 2019 he has received RIT’s Dr. Richard Marecki Memorial Award for an outstanding alumnus in recognition of his professional achievements.  

Brian Chennault

Brian Chennault
Executive Director of Information Technology at Golden Nugget Casino

Brian Chennault is the Executive Director of Information Technology at Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, MS.   He started his gaming career at Grand Casino Biloxi in 2002 as an IT Technician.  After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he moved to IP Biloxi Casino Resort Spa where he won several company awards such as Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year.  After IP Biloxi, Brian went on to the Isle of Capri property which is now the Golden Nugget.  At the Golden Nugget he has won Star Leader of the Quarter in December 2016.  He also traveled to all the other Golden Nugget properties (Las Vegas, Laughlin, Atlantic City, and Lake Charles) to assist with gaming system conversions.        

Brian proudly served our country in the United States Air Force from 1992-2000.  He served as a Ground Radio Specialist and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS. 

Brian has served as an industry mentor for the University of South Alabama’s Hospitality and Tourism department.  He also enjoys volunteering as a coach with youth sports on his children’s teams.  He has coached soccer, baseball, football, and basketball. 

As a longtime resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Brian enjoys volunteering annually for the Deer Island Clean Up.  He and his wife Shelley, who also works in the gaming industry, are supporters of many local and national charities such as Make-A-Wish, Jackson County Animal Shelter, and American Heart Association.  Brian and Shelley are the proud parents of three wonderful children. 

Dr. Bianca Denson

Dr. Bianca Denson
Revenue Manager, Pearl River Resort (PRR)

Dr. Bianca Denson has over 10 years of experience in the gaming industry. She launched her gaming career at Pearl River Resort (PRR) as a Database Marketing coordinator and advanced within the department as a Manager of Marketing Analytics. She is currently employed at PRR as a Revenue Manager where she works with hotel operations, sales, player development and the reservations departments to effectively manage technical and customer service oriented procedures that affect revenue generation. She also serves in the capacity as a Project Manager for various projects that have a direct impact on the organization’s human capital and operational efficiencies.

Dr. Denson earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Capital Development at the University of Southern Mississippi, Master’s of Business Administration at Kennesaw State University, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Marketing and International Business at Florida State University. She has a certification in Casino Management from USM as well as a Master Certification in Revenue Management from Cornell University.

Josh Duplantis

Dr. Josh Duplantis
Dean of Workforce Development for Coastal Alabama Community College

Dr. Josh Duplantis is Dean of Workforce Development for Coastal Alabama Community College. Josh’s focus is rapid response to business and industry needs including building apprenticeships, short and long term certificate programs and offering relevant credentials. Dr. Duplantis’ career has been focused on creating innovative partnerships, serving students, job seekers and companies by building award winning training programs. He has taught several courses on leadership and personal development. In 2014, Josh was presented a namesake, the Josh Duplantis award given to people who facilitate positive higher education experiences for military veterans. Dr. Duplantis has been an active grant writer, securing and successfully administering several million dollars in grant funding from organizations such as the Delta Regional Authority, Corporation for National and Community Service and The US Department of Education.

Dr. Duplantis holds a BS from LSU in Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, a MEd from Auburn in Higher Education and a PhD from Southern Miss in Human Capital
Development.

He currently serves on the board of directors of The South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and My Team Triumph, The advisory board for the University of Mobile School of Business and the national ACT Work Ready Communities project and is a member of the Southwest Alabama Regional Education Commission. Josh and his wife Elisabeth live in Fairhope with their 6 year old twins, Julian and Cora.

Darvis Gill

Darvis Gill
Hotel Housekeeping Manager, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort

Darvis Gill is the Hotel Housekeeping Manager for Scarlet Pearl, a Casino Resort located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in D’Iberville. He heads up a team of 3 supervisors and 57 associates. Under his direction, the team are responsible for the cleanliness, condition and upkeep of the property’s hotel tower. That consists of 290 luxury hotel rooms and 10 suites.  

Darvis, originally from West Point, MS, now calls the Mississippi Gulf Coast home. He has over 13 years of combined experience in the hospitality and medical industry. During his career, he has focused on housekeeping, laundry and environmental services. He also has extensive experience in all floor care, stone care, carpet care and ‘green cleaning’ – referred to as such due to the cleaning procedures being designed to preserve human health and environmental quality.

Darvis started his career at Grand Casino Biloxi as their Housekeeping and EVS Supervisor. His career progression began at the Grand where, after one year, he was promoted to Housekeeping Manager. After the Grand, he moved to Boyd Gaming IP Casino Resort Spa and undertook the role of Assistant Housekeeping Director. The property boasts 1,088 hotel rooms and holds a 4 Diamond rating. Darvis later moved to the Wyndham Avenue Plaza in New Orleans, elevating his career further by accepting the position of Director of Housekeeping, EVS and Laundry.

He has also managed for Caesars Entertainment, Crothall Healthcare, Eldorado Resorts and Marriott.

During his career, he has been recognized and honored to receive the Chairman’s Club Award, Service Star Award and Wyndham Cornerstone Recognition. Most recently, his team ensured Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort was consecutively recognized at the annual Covey Awards for “Best Hotel.”

Darvis’ current responsibilities include:

  • Consistently maintains luxury hotel rooms to the highest standard of cleanliness
  • Directs the daily housekeeping department through management and delegation
  • Maintains cost control for guest supplies, linen, laundry and operating supplies, to ensure efficient operations
  • Manages both guest and employee disputes
  • Facilitates proper processes and procedures in a service oriented culture
  • Oversees employee on-boarding process - interviewing, hiring and training staff
James Larkin

James Larkin
Director of Player Development for Hard Rock Casino Biloxi

James Larkin is the Director of Player Development for Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, a subsidiary of Twin River Worldwide Holdings with casino properties in Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi, Colorado, and Kansas City.   He is also a key member of the Executive Operations Committee which oversees the day-to-day operations of the property.  His role is multifaceted with many departmental responsibilities under his purview.

James is a pioneer of Mississippi Gulf Coast Gaming and was part of the opening team for several Casino Properties.  Over his nearly 30 year career he has held many positions in the industry including all positions in Table Games, Manager and Director of Player Development, and Director of Operations for a Dealing College.  During this period he has received many awards, most notably, Manager of the Year at Hard Rock Biloxi.

As a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, James enjoys the southern hospitality our community extends and is grateful for the opportunities the gaming industry has provided.   He and his wife Stacey, who also works in the gaming industry, are proud parents of two amazing young adults.

Wayne Matthews

Wayne Matthews
Vice President of Surveillance for Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort

Wayne has been in the casino industry for 26 years and served in several different capacities in the Security and Surveillance fields. He has been a part of two coast casino openings and 3 other casino openings throughout his career, and also worked for casino operations to include MGM/Mirage, Pinnacle Entertainment, Tropicana Entertainment and Scarlet Pearl.

Wayne’s focus on a daily basis is ensuring a safe and secure environment for both guests and associates, all while maintaining an open and fun atmosphere. Working closely with local and state law enforcement officials to stay abreast of criminal trends and activity.  Monitoring and analyzing all activities of guests and associates for any abnormal or suspicious behavior or actions.    

Wayne is from New Orleans, LA, and now lives in Biloxi, MS where he enjoys fishing and golfing year round. He has 3 grown daughters, 2 of whom are educators, 1 Jazz vocalist, and 3 grandkids. He also served our country as a United States Marine for 6 years.

Russell Schenck

Russell Schenck
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino-Director of Table Games and Sportsbook

As the Director of Table Games and Sportsbook operations at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi, Russell Schenck brings 28 years of experience in the Hospitality and Casino Gaming Industry.  A critical member of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino team, Mr. Schenck has proven results in the industry.  As a dynamic leader, Mr. Schenck also manages the International Marketing Player Development Hosts. Mr. Schenck has held a multitude of position during his 28 year career starting as a front line employee table games dealer. Prior to joining the Hard Rock Biloxi team, Mr. Schenck worked in a senior role in Table Games for Pinnacle Entertainment’s Casino Magic Biloxi property.  Mr. Schenck studied Casino Resort Management at Tulane University on the Coast, finishing top of his class.

Roy Sous

Roy Sous
Vice President of Food & Beverage and Hotel Operations, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort

Roy Sous attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and graduated with a B.S. in Finance in 2007. He then went on to work in Atlantic City at Harrah’s Resort,
Tropicana Resort, and Ocean Club Realty. Moving to Mississippi in 2016, Roy began working at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort. He held the positions of Assistant to the CEO, Vice
President of Marketing and most recently, Vice President of Food & Beverage and Hotel Operations. Roy is currently furthering his education at LSU, where he will graduate with a
Masters in Business Administration late 2020. He plans to continue his education by pursuing a doctorate degree in 2021.

Gerald Tipton

Gerald Tipton
President/Partner, Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, Gulf Shores, AL.

Gerald joined LuLu’s over 12 years ago.  He has been part of the team responsible for growing the LuLu’s brand to now include three 400 seat restaurants located in Gulf Shores, AL, Destin, FL and North Myrtle Beach, SC.  LuLu’s employees over 1000 people in the height of the season and over 350 at the Gulf Shores location alone.

Gerald grew up in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, so food and hospitality have always been a passion since a young age.  He started in the industry while in college and continued to pursue this passion through the restaurant scene in Louisiana.  He has worked alongside some of the top chefs and restauranteurs in that area.  He has been in the restaurant industry for over 25 years and got his first management role as a General Manager at the age of 23.

He currently lives in Fairhope with his wife Katie and daughter Chole.  He is very active in 3 Circle Church and participates whenever possible in community involvement for service.  Gerald likes to spend his down time in the outdoors, loves reading and exploring new technologies. 

Tarzan Treadway II

Tarzan Treadway II
Director of Slots, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi

Tarzan Treadway possesses twenty four years of experience in the gaming industry as both an operator and vendor in the casino business.  He began as a Change Person and advanced to Lead Slot Technician at Casino Magic Biloxi and played significant roles in the building of Casino Magic Bossier City and Belterra Resort before leaving to explore the vendor side of the business.  After two years as Service Manager with Prime Technology Systems Inc., he returned to Casino Magic as a Slot Technician and quickly advanced to Slot Technician Manager, where he was until 2005.  After Hurricane Katrina, Tarzan assisted with the opening of Silver Slipper Casino as the Slot Product Manager and then moved Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi as the Slot Operations Manager.  He is currently the Director of Slots where he oversees over 1100 slot and e-tables.

Chris Viverette

Chris Viverette
Director of Compliance, MGM Resorts International

When it comes to regulatory compliance, MGM Resorts International’s Chris Viverette is an industry leader, having served as Director of Compliance with two of the top three of the world’s largest casino gaming companies.

As Director of Compliance, a role he’s held since Oct. 2008, Viverette works closely with the Mississippi Gaming Commission, American Gaming Association and Alcohol and Beverage Control, representing both Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and Gold Strike Casino Resort. He also works with Surveillance, Security, Risk Management and Legal teams to ensure utmost safety for casino employees and guests.

Prior to joining MGM Resorts, Viverette worked for the U.S. Department of Treasury as a Compliance Examiner in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, alongside Federal regulators to administer provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to thwart money laundering and terrorist financing. In addition, he served as the BSA subject matter expert for casinos and card clubs and assessed casinos and other financial institutions’ compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.

Viverette, a Coastal Mississippi native, earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Southern Mississippi and his Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Troy University. After graduating from the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy, he launched his career in the gaming industry as a Casino Gaming Enforcement Agent for the Mississippi Gaming Commission in 1999.

At Beau Rivage, Viverette has been identified as a Diversity Champion and has volunteered with Renew our Rivers, Boys and Girls Clubs and as a mentor for Moss Point Schools.