When Argentinean-born Yanina de Vargas first came to the US, she didn’t know English, and her degrees in accounting and business administration from Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata carried little weight outside of her home country.
“I wanted to see the world and connect with people from different backgrounds. I left Argentina to travel and then figured I would go back and start my career path,” she recounts. “The US was my last stop in my travels before heading back to Argentina and once I was here, I ended up finding my passion. So I stayed.”
That passion was in the gaming industry, and she landed a job as an accountant at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, while earning another degree in accounting from Bellevue University.
“I was exposed to different types of businesses under one roof, as working at a casino property gives me exposure to food and beverage, entertainment, gaming, retail . . . there was lots for me to learn,” she shares.
Today de Vargas serves as vice president of finance for MGM Northfield Park, Ohio’s award-winning gaming, dining, and entertainment destination, located on the Northfield Park harness racing grounds.
De Vargas is from a very small town called Necochea, in the province of Buenos Aires, with a population of less than one hundred thousand people. Making it to an executive role in corporate America, in a large company such as MGM Resorts, is quite an accomplishment.
“Coming here and being able to adapt, learning the language, and being competitive in the workforce is probably my biggest achievement,” she says.
She knew from the outset that if she was going to stay in the US, she wanted to rise to the top of her career and wasn’t going to “just sit in the corner.”
Her tenure with MGM Resorts began in 2015, when she took a job as its gaming audit and accounting manager. From there, she transferred to MGM National Harbor in the Washington, DC, area, where she helped open the complex and moved her way up to finance director.
“It was great to go from a behind-the-scenes corporate role to an all-hands operations role at the property,” de Vargas says. “I was getting promotion after promotion. I was learning and growing, jumping into the pool for every opportunity and not being afraid of trying. Now, I understand the business from all sides—corporate, behind the scenes, and everything dealing with the property. There’s never any time to be bored; there is always a new challenge that keeps you motivated.”
The Northfield Park opportunity came in 2020 with another promotion. Her responsibility in 2024 is strategic direction and oversight of the finance division, including financial planning and analysis, accounting, procurement, cage and count, warehouse, and lots more.
As part of her role, de Vargas leads a diverse team of around one hundred and sees herself as a personable leader who is there to provide guidance and help the team grow.
“I encourage different opinions and believe people should deliver on commitment. I like having team members with different backgrounds; I think we can all learn from one another and challenge each other to get a better result,” de Vargas explains. “It helps to look at things from out of the box. Every time you look at something with fresh eyes, we all benefit.”
De Vargas also serves as a mentor to many—both those entering the industry and others looking to follow in her footsteps. MGM Resorts is a big champion of mentorship, and de Vargas is always willing to help and encourage young leaders interested in the field, taking part annually in the company’s mentorship program.
MGM Resorts’ six-month mentorship program is designed to enhance knowledge, skills, and abilities through structured, self-directed learning. De Vargas is also a mentor within the supplier diversity mentorship program, which is an eight-month program that provides guidance and resources for business development to minority-owned businesses and suppliers. She notes that MGM Resorts aims to put a total of 150 companies through the program by the end of 2025.
For her, being a good mentor comes down to being a good listener and motivating people to be their best so they can grow and improve. Her biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid to think differently.
De Vargas is also a member of MGM Resorts Hispanic employee networking group and an external women leadership group, both designed to help others succeed.
“I think it’s very important to understand what someone’s strengths are to place them in the right processes,” she shares. “It’s important to understand what team members like, what their goals are career-wise, and how they can best perform.”
Having lived in the US for fifteen years now, and being a mother of a young toddler, de Vargas is proud of all she has accomplished, but she still has bigger dreams.
“Career-wise, I think it’s important that I continue to learn and grow, be exposed to new things, and find new challenges. I would like to become a president,” she says. “Learning is an ongoing process; it never ends.”