George Goldhoff has led thousands of employees at famous establishments including the Rainbow Room in New York City, the Bellagio – MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas, Nevada, and now at the largest casino operator in Alberta, Canada.
A 1983 graduate of Schenectady County Community College, Goldhoff is now the President and CEO of Pure Canadian Gaming, which has casinos throughout Canada and generates $100M in revenue. After graduating from SCCC with an A.A.S. in Hotel Technology, he earned his B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts, followed by an M.B.A. in Finance and Management from Columbia University.
His work as the General Manager of the Rainbow Room earned the famed private club in Rockefeller Center a three-star rating by The New York Times in the mid-1990s. While he was the Executive Director of Food and Beverage at the Bellagio from 1998 to 2001, the Bellagio achieved the first AAA Five Diamond award for a casino-hotel. And following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, George coordinated the food and beverage redesign and reconstruction of the $700M resort restoration as Vice President of Food and Beverage at the Beau Rivage – MGM Resorts International in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Mr. Goldhoff was Schenectady County Community College’s Class of 2013 Commencement speaker.
1. What were your career goals when you first started at SCCC, and then when you completed your graduate studies at Columbia University?
Originally, my goal was to just get better training to become a cook. However, once I started at SCCC, my dreams expanded. The more I learned about the restaurant trade and the more I learned about myself, my confidence grew and my focus shifted. I realized I wanted to become a chef, then a manager. By the time I started at Columbia University, I had realized my SCCC dreams and was managing some of the most iconic restaurant properties in New York. I knew at this point in my career I really wanted to run a business, and step beyond food and beverage. Getting my MBA from Columbia helped me to achieve a new level in my career.
2. You have positively impacted tourism destinations across the nation- from NY to LV to MS- and now Canada. What do you miss most about Upstate NY?
Family foremost. Both my wife and I have family in the Northeast. There’s just something about the climate, the smells, the food, familiar neighborhoods where I grew up. In other words, I miss everything.
3. What is a typical day for you as President and CEO of Pure Canadian Gaming?
There is no such thing as a typical day. No day is routine. On any given day, I am immersed in issues concerning marketing and advertisement, Human Resources, finance and budgets, customer service and player development, security and entertainment, as well as government and regulatory issues, etc. There is a lot of everything, every day at each of the four properties to which I travel back and forth.
4. Overall, how did your college education help prepare you for life and your career?
College education was the vehicle or the catalyst that helped me focus and broaden my perspective on life. It helped me improve my organizational and communication skills. It helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills and gave me a solid foundation in terms of knowledge and self-confidence. Even after graduation, college can be a great support network and a resource to lean on and to ask questions.
5. What advice do you have to share with SUNY students?
I would tell SUNY students to be positive thinkers. They are in the right place at the right time. Be optimistic and opportunistic, meaning work hard and be open to opportunities that present themselves to you. I would tell students don’t be afraid to work hard. Go that extra mile, choose the path less traveled and never settle. Find what you feel passionate about; take the time to identify what you really love to do and then pour yourself and all your energy into it.
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.