A Great Mix of Talents
“I would say [Emory] really gave me an edge to think forward and design a path for my career that’s been very successful.”
As Ottolenghi studied decision and information analysis he began to truly see technology as the present and future of business. He realized he needed a unique foundation for his own education and career.
“The kind of structure and understanding of large organizations, as well as growth strategies for any entity in my sort of understanding or background…” he said. “Basically, I needed to be educated on how big business works.”
Ottolenghi has built a career in technology and the internet. As a summer intern at Coca-Cola, he authored a strategy heavy on interactive media and online technology. That way of thinking is what Ottolenghi believes helped him land a position with Holiday Inn Worldwide, Inc. in Atlanta as director of emerging technologies. There, he built the industry’s first web-based internet travel reservation system.
“Les has been a friend since he graduated, and I have been proud of his continuing to lead in the effective leverage of technologies in business innovation."
Ottolenghi credited several Goizueta professors for the training he received, including Rob Chambers, Robert Kazandjian, Benn Konsynski and Al Hartgraves.
“They were looking for someone who could think very differently, innovatively,” Ottolenghi said of Holiday Inn. “The university had a very strong focus on global marketing, innovation, technology and traditional business practice. I would say it really gave me an edge to think forward and design a path for my career that’s been very successful.”
Konsynski said Ottolenghi, even as a student, contributed to the development and character of the Decision and Information Analysis program and curriculum.
“Les came with significant experience at a time when computing and multimedia were finding homes in commerce innovation,” Konsynski said. “He was a pioneer in the travel reservation industry, which became one of the leading tech business innovation industries.”
Konsynski, proudly refers to Ottolenghi as one of the first “Students of Benn,” or “SOBs.” Ottolenghi became an adjunct professor at Goizueta and taught courses. According to Konsynski, students loved his application of real-world management of technology innovation. Ottolenghi continues to work with Goizueta, sponsoring experiential learning projects for the Master of Science in Business Analytics program.
“Les was always interested in innovating in mobility, electronic commerce, multimedia and new and effective technology practice,” Konsynski said. “Les has been a friend since he graduated, and I have been proud of his continuing to lead in the effective leverage of technologies in business innovation. Les has a good balance of emerging technology innovation, strategic leverage of those technologies, and the good operational and enterprise political management to make things happen. A great mix of talents.”
"I’m really fortunate to be given the opportunity and have been entrusted essentially with helping the company develop a new position in the market.”
Ottolenghi now works at Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas as executive vice president and chief information officer. He was hired to transfer Caesars to cloud platforms for marketing, finance, human resources, cyber-security, gaming, hospitality and employee productivity. Put simply, to shift the globally recognized hotel and casino to a digital business to optimize revenues and reduce costs.
One of the new business models that came out of the transformation is the inclusion eSports to the company portfolio. Caesars is a leader in eSports and eSport entertainment, holding tournament championships for video game challenges including console and PC games.
“We’re applying new technology everywhere,” he said. “We’re applying block chain for loyalty management. We’re putting in place facial recognition and artificial intelligence in order to better serve our customers with real-time offers to their mobile devices. We’re also developing new gaming experiences for our guests that will be completely digital. There is nothing that’s not somehow already tied to another device, to another person and so on.
“I get to do a lot of innovative things. I’m really fortunate to be given the opportunity and have been entrusted essentially with helping the company develop a new position in the market.”