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Caesars CIO Takes New Job In Stride

Carol Pride has her hands full with new projects and a pending acquisition.

If you're a CIO who had to take over the job on the run, sit down. You won't believe the luxury afforded one of your colleagues.

Carol Pride, named CIO of gambling and hospitality company Caesars Entertainment Inc. in June, got to do months of on-the-job knowledge gathering before taking the reins of the company's IT operations. Nearly a year ago though, Pride joined Caesars as VP of IS, part of a succession plan that would let former CIO Bob Conover move into a new position.

"It's the first time I've come into a role and had a chance to reflect," Pride during an interview this week in the bowels of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. "It was a pleasant opportunity to come in and ask lots of questions and meet lots of people." In fact, Pride was able to put together a steering committee whose job is specifically to improve operations between IT and the departments it supports. In the process, she spent time interviewing executives throughout the company. Doing so helped her learn to talk to execs in casino lingo, she says.

And given that Caesars is in the process of being acquired by rival Harrah's Entertainment, that's not a bad thing. According to Pride, one of the first things she's become aware of is how much data Caesars' systems collect--on gamblers, employees, business operations, and other areas"-and how much potential there is to extract new sales opportunities from that information. "I think what we do is pretty rigorous, but I'd like to drive it even further," she says.

The pending acquisition could put a slight cloud over her first months in terms of job security. But since the deal, revealed last month, is expected to be mulled over by regulators for at least a year, Pride says she's taking things in stride. Combining the companies will be good for both, she says, and if the deal does go through, she's prepared to help Harrah's CIO, Tim Stanley, manage the transition. And if it doesn't go through? "There'll still be a lot of work to be done," she says. "I'll be excited either way."

Pride and Caesars VP of operations Carlos Castro will speak at InformationWeek's Fall Conference on Sept. 21 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

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