Argelia Medina is considering returning to school one day—maybe law school or a doctoral program. She’s excited by the challenge of learning a new set of skills that would elevate her leadership style and strategic thinking. She believes the added degree would bring even more to her role as chief human resources officer at Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment.
“It is important to understand that you don’t know everything, and you have to be open and willing to learning every day,” Medina explains. “And if you have the ability to do so, continue educating yourself, as it will only add more credibility to everything that you do.”
Medina’s career journey is punctuated by this appetite for more and being a student of life.
The Southern Arizona native is a graduate of the University of Phoenix, where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. For over twenty-three years, she worked her way up from an entry-level position at Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment to her current role as CHRO.
“I never thought that I would be here as long as I’ve been,” she admits. “To be honest, when I first enrolled in school, I never thought I would [decide to then] pursue a master’s degree.”
Medina is intentional about her career steps, but not at the expense of following her intuition. She brings a balanced leadership style and strategic eye to her work, stewarding nearly three thousand employees and four casinos while setting the foundation for a fifth casino that is on the way.
“I’m a very hands-on leader,” she says. “I get involved with the day-to-day. I also work very closely with my management team to make sure that they understand all the different pieces and details that they need to be [abreast of] so that when we do come together, they’re able to answer my questions and I’m not necessarily going to their team to get that information.”
The CHRO believes in empowering her team to show up because that was one of the key drivers for her own career. She was afforded the opportunity early on to help tell the story of Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment’s mission and values. “[When I first started], I really liked the recruitment aspect of the business because it was exciting,” she exlpains. “You really have to be out there, pitching the best of what the enterprise or what a company has to offer to those looking for work.”
Not only did she have to understand the ins and outs of all Desert Diamond brought to the table but also had to communicate all of the opportunities for growth that were folded into the enterprise. Often her career trajectory within the company served as the key example as to why working for Desert Diamond was more than just a job; it had the makings for a fulfilling career.
Today, Medina folds in all the aspects of past roles that fulfilled her and continue to bring her joy and a healthy set of challenges. “I have all the umbrellas of HR under my management,” she says. “I oversee recruitment, talent acquisition, benefits and compensation, training and development, tribal development, tribal outreach, guest service, and employee relations.”
The Future Is Bright
Whether Medina is weaving new connection points with her employees or supporting a new Casino build, she believes the future is full of opportunities.
Her team is currently setting up the foundation to ensure they are ready to support the expansion of the Enterprise. Medina has been involved in every new build or expansion that has manifested since she joined the company in 2000.
“We’re all very excited,” shares Medina. “There’s still a lot of questions in terms of when we’re going to open, how many team members we’re going to hire. However, in terms of processes and procedures, it really isn’t going to be different from what we have in place right now.”
The project perfectly combines the embers that have kept Medina’s passion for her career alive—the space to work on what she’s really good at and continued learning.
That passion and commitment are palpable by colleagues and partners alike. “Argelia’s sense of compassion for employees and love for Desert Diamond, the business she has served so faithfully, make her involvement and engagement in the benefit program decisions and those delivered to employees heartfelt and meaningful each and every year,” says Eric Rustand, Arizona market leader and senior consultant at CBIZ. “She is a compassionate and effective service-oriented leader.”
As she reflects on what advice she would give her newly graduated self or someone kickstarting their career right now, Medina thinks holistically. She encourages others to honor their passion and hold tight to their determination.
“For someone looking to get to a position like the one that I’m in, know it’s not easy. It does take a lot of work, a lot of sacrifices, and a lot of commitment,” she admits. “The only advice that I have is not to give up and not to allow downfalls or rejection to hold [you] back because rejection is just part of life. Do not lose sight of what your end goal is and [know] there’s no one right way to get there.”
She values the lessons learned on the fun and hard days. But, above all else, Medina notices that the throughline in her career is that of helping others.
“I think that when you’re able to see how much you’re helping people even though you or they may not realize it in the moment, it does make a difference,” she says. “The simple fact of just opening up the door to more information or different information for someone, [it’s] really satisfying to know that you were that person that did that, and possibly made a difference.”
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