Ronen Nissenbaum 07EMBA is walking along what he calls the Fifth Avenue or the Champs-Élysées of Singapore, Orchard Road, en route to dinner with his family. He is senior executive vice president of operations at Marina Bay Sands, the iconic and opulent Singapore resort and casino that opened in April 2010. “This year Marina Bay Sands stands to be the world’s most profitable casino resort,” he reports.
Nissenbaum is a known talent in the hospitality industry after working some thirteen years for InterContinental Hotels Group in Paris, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Atlanta, and serving as regional vice president of operations for North America. He left in August 2009 to oversee preparations and the opening of Marina Bay Sands, a property of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
One of his challenges was to meet Singapore government requirements that 70 percent of the resort’s employees be hired from the local population and be trained with new skills, including language. Nissenbaum says the company earned millions in incentives from the government for training and re-skilling the local workforce, and he observes, “Singapore is truly a model of how a country should work!”
Although English is the most common language spoken in Singapore, Nissenbaum says he has had to learn some colloquial “Singlish” and a few important Mandarin phrases. But learning new languages is one of the pleasures of the job. Nissenbaum is a polyglot whose second mother tongue is Hebrew, and he speaks French and German fluently.
The resort is a complex of three 55-story guest towers spanned by the Sands SkyPark, where recreation, entertainment, shopping, and dining opportunities maximize incremental income. Nissenbaum credits a pioneer team of 8,000 employees and partners, from butlers to celebrity chefs, for delivering on the promise of such exceptional facilities.
Working nearly nonstop for the last eighteen months, Nissenbaum takes care to take breaks. “The thing I need most,” he says, “is not to think and not to make decisions, so for me the least stressful time is going out to a movie with my wife. She usually takes me to ‘chick flicks.’ I need that at least once a week.”
The Nissenbaums live with their three children in a centrally located apartment. Since leaving Atlanta, they have kicked their car habit. Now they most often walk and occasionally take a taxi. Nissenbaum says he values his contacts with Goizueta faculty members and former classmates. “They always have tremendous advice.”