Alumnus William P. Weidner (BA Hospitality Business ’67, MBA ’68) returned to campus Thursday, October 2, 2014 as the featured speaker at the Broad College of Business’s Sylvan T. Warrington Visiting Lectureship in Ethics and Leadership.
Bill is the chairman and CEO of Global Gaming Asset Management, LLC (GGAM) and principal of Weidner Holdings and its subsidiaries Weidner Resorts China, India and Taiwan. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the School of Hospitality Business and his MBA in Marketing.
Named the School of Hospitality Business’s Industry Leader of the Year in 2006, Bill has a long and generous history with his alma mater. He is a member of the School’s Real Estate Investment Management Advisory Council. He has worked closely with faculty members in the School on several projects over the years. In fact, in 2008, a group of School faculty members created and taught the Venetian Macau Executive Development Course for executives and high potential leaders when Bill was president and COO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation. And when School students traveled with faculty members to study in Hong Kong, China, and Macau the year before, it was Bill’s initial, on-campus session with them that “set the tone and context for the students’ global educational journey for the next four weeks,” according to Dr. A.J. Singh, professor in the School.
Just last year, Bill established two endowments in the School: The Hospitality Business Real Estate Investment Management Student Travel and Enrichment Endowment and the William P. Weidner Hospitality Business Real Estate Investment Management Faculty Research Endowment, each at $50,000 over five years.
Bill’s talk was titled, “Reports from the Front: 30 Years of Seeking Value in an Increasingly Egalitizing World.” He spoke to a packed auditorium of students, along with faculty and deans from the School and the Broad College of Business.
“Think more globally than you have in the past,” he told students. “Bring the things you learned today in your classes and interactions and take them to other cultures.”
When thinking about corporate citizenship, he said, “Create success and try to do it without government help. Be respectful of the culture you’re in, and do your best to create connections. The Western style of doing business has been successful, but the world is changing, and we need to be aware of other cultures’ views.” He urged students to “combine our cultural background and cultural backgrounds from other countries and see how you can create value.”
“You only get lucky if you’re out interacting and reacting,” Bill said. “Read history. Get on a plane, reach out, learn, listen, and add value to cultural relationships. Find their perspective. And trade value.” In other words, he said, tell potential business colleagues, “Here is what I have. What do you have? We’re all trying to figure out the same thing, and, recognizing that the world isn’t always fair, how do we balance that?”
The students were impressed with Bill’s presentation, and with his career success. “I thought Mr. Weidner’s comments were really effective guidelines for doing business in countries outside the U.S., each of which has its own business culture and code of ethics,” says Emily Jackman (BA Hospitality Business ’16), a student leader in the School.
Bill’s company, GGAM, which is a joint venture between Cantor Fitzgerald and former members of the Las Vegas Sands management team, was formed to advise, invest in, acquire, and manage hospitality and gaming assets globally. GGAM is currently building one of four integrated resorts in the Philippines Entertainment City Manila project with Bloomberry Resort called Solaire. Weidner Resorts specializes in developing boutique hotels and integrated 5-star residential resorts around the world in cooperation with Discovery Land Co. of Scottsdale, AZ.
Bill served as the president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) from 1995 to 2009. While at LVS, he built the 64-acre Sands Hotel site into the world’s largest integrated resort. He led his team at LVS in opening the 4,000 room Venetian Las Vegas in 1999 and the 3,000 room Palazzo in 2007. He spearheaded LVS’ international expansion in Macau by opening the Sands Macau in 2004, winning the right to develop the first Western-style casino in China. Following the opening of the Sands Macau, Bill led his team at LVS in opening the 3,000 suite Venetian Macau in 2007 and the Four Seasons Macau in 2008 and also won the right to open Singapore’s first integrated casino resort (opened in April 2010) which is now generating over $1.7 billion of EBITA annually. He has led the effort to win the right to develop one of Pennsylvania’s seven casinos, Sands Bethlehem Casino, which opened in 2009.
The Warrington Lectureship was established with an endowment in the Broad College by MSU alumni Edward R. James (BA Economics ’56) and Jeannie Warrington James (BA Human Ecology ’57) to honor her father, Sylvan T. Warrington. An agricultural and food industry innovator, Warrington was known for his Midwestern values and respect for land-grant education.
The Lecture was followed by a dinner with the Broad College of Business leadership in the School’s J.W. and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Culinary Business Learning Lab, presented by students in HB 485, and Professor of Culinary Business Chef Allan Sherwin (BA Hospitality Business ’64).
Whenever he returns to campus, Bill graciously meets with students enrolled in the School’s Real Estate Investment Management Specialization. “Bill’s career is an inspiration to our students, and his generosity to The School is a model for ‘giving back,’” says Dr. Bonnie Knutson, interim director of the School. “We thank him for his dedication to our students, our School, and to MSU.”