Human Resources | 10 MGM IT engineers sent to Hollywood for training

Kay Kuok (left) and Scott Wessel

Julie Zhu

In preparation for the opening of MGM Cotai, MGM recently sent a group of 10 local team members from its Digital and Technology department to Hollywood, California, for an intensive two-week training program. The team was selected based on their dedication, skills and leadership potential.

The program was an opportunity for the MGM team to learn from  leading experts in the field of entertainment and to familiarize themselves with the state-of-the-art entertainment technology that they will operate at MGM Cotai. 

“Investing in the development of local talent will not only help realize their full potential, but also greatly contributes to providing creative and diversified entertainment experiences for our guests, which ultimately helps to strengthen Macau’s position as a world leisure and tourism center,” Grant Bowie, CEO and Executive Director of MGM China said in yesterday’s press release.

Bowie added that MGM will have a team of 11,000 team members on board when the Cotai property opens later this year.

MGM Digital and Technology Solutions senior vice president Scott Wessel and Resort Technology manager Kay Kuok shared their stories of this unique  training program with the Times.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – What were the skills and technologies the team learnt about in Hollywood?

Scott Wessel (SW) – One of the most important things about this training is we took a select group of individuals that were already on our teams here in Macau, local resources. One of the biggest things about this is how new this technology is. The technology that we are putting in Cotai is unparalleled in the market place.

So, one of the most important things is to learn in an environment that allows you to experience certain things and experience the training from leading industry organizations.

For example, the team was introduced to technology and people who are working on events such as the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards in America.

It’s very important for them to experience that and develop a solid foundation. The system is very complex, so they are not going to learn every single element of this technology in a two-week training [session]. But what it gives them is a solid insight, and [also] the foundation to allow them to develop their skills as we move forward.

MDT – Which of these new technologies will be applied to MGM Cotai?

SW – Number-wise, there are probably close to 25 different [types of resort entertainment] technologies that no one has ever run here. We are building an infrastructure that had to be fabricated in Hollywood, in California, in the USA, because [the required] skill set [could not be found] anywhere in Asia. Macau actually built that [skill set]. And the tremendous amount of this infrastructure has brought us quality which does not really exist in Macau today. We are building something that is extremely robust for the Macau market. 

We have a couple of entertainment spaces. We have a theater that is unparalleled – it actually has never been done in Asia, and it has not been done in the United States either. 

It’s a transformable theater, that can be configured for different seating arrangements and is able to perform different functions.

At the same time, it [provides an unprecedented] visual experience that no one has ever done using LED technology.

The training in Hollywood focuses specifically on the diverse and fast-changing aspects in the field of resort entertainment technology

We also have a space called “the Spectacle” which is going to be a truly amazing space, you will see [further details revealed] over time – but in the Spectacle, we have well-over 1,000 square meters, various sizes and shapes utilizing LED technology.

In both the theater and in the Spectacle, the […] elements, sound, and lighting [are fully customizable], and all [of it] will be controlled together to create the experience.

MDT – How much did MGM invest for the Cotai project in terms of technology?

SW – While we are not ready to release that number, we spent three billion dollars on the property overall – a good of [proportion] of that is the technology. This technology is not cheap.

[This is partly because] as technology changes, we need to continue to enhance that offering.

MDT – How did the training program help with your work performance, Mr Kuok?

Kay Kuok – Before we [arrived] there, we did not know what we would have to do. After our two-week program, despite not delving too deep into the details, we got to know how to plan the Spectacle. Personally, I feel [the training] was a good experience.

There [were] many challenges for me. I focused too much on a specific field previously, and now I have [been exposed to] so many different new sciences and technologies, and I will need to grow accustomed to them gradually.

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