Small Community, Big Impact

Cherokee, North Carolina, is truly unlike any place in this entire world. You will never experience a community more affluent in culture and tradition. I have worked for Cherokee Central Schools for going on six years. I have had the opportunity to watch our students leave our school’s safe halls and go live their own lives, and one thing that helps these students along their way is having strong EBCI leaders and role models. 

In my years, I have never had the opportunity of meeting Adam West. He is a well-known figure in our community and plays a significant role in our operations at Harrahs Cherokee Casino and Resort. We are a very tight-knit community, and the fact that I have not crossed paths with Mr. West till now is slightly shocking. In my role at Cherokee Central Schools, I am always searching for successful EBCI members to come and speak with students. I can now add Mr. West to that list. 

Mr. West is the Vice President of Operations for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. He oversees several departments such as slots, slots performance, beverage, administration, table games, and security and surveillance. Total Mr. West leads around 1,300 employees and handles oversight of just about anything that goes on with the casino. His role is not only a very time-consuming job but a 24 hour one. Since the casino operates on a 24/7 schedule, so does he. In addition to his VP of Operations job, Mr. West is also one of five board members for the Kituwah LLC. The Kituwah LLCs mission statement is:

“To create or acquire profitable and sustainable businesses and investments that provide substantial opportunities for the members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

Mr. West is second from the left.

For more information on the Kituwah LLC, please click on the link:

Understanding where Mr. West comes from is extremely important to his impact on our youth. Mr. West is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and has lived and worked here his entire life. He is a graduate of Cherokee High School and has worked for Harrah from the time of graduation. Mr. West has been instilled with the importance of hard work and what it takes to obtain the things he wants. Hard work is an excellent lesson for our students to hear. Often with the privileges that come with being a member of the EBCI, the idea of hard work can get lost. Mr. West shows the opposite. In his 23 years at Harrah’s, he has worked his way to the top. He started on the drop team and slowly climbed the latter. Personally, that says a lot about Mr. West and the new level of understanding he has in his position as VP. Think just how much better he can be at understanding his departments’ ends and outs because he has worked them and gives him a considerable advantage when dealing with issues that might arise. 

Handling all these various departments seems like a huge undertaking. I asked Mr. West, with so many employees, how do you keep everyone motivated from your team leaders down. Mr. West was quick to use the term “Rolemodel what you expect.” Mr. West truly applies this with the expectation of it flowing down the tree. He meets with his team leaders once a month; in return, he expects them to meet with their team in the same manner. Lead by example is one of the most senior leadership methods but holds solid even to this day. Also, Mr. West stated that he likes to have his expectations known and expressed to those in his senior staff. The process doesn’t stop there. He then follows up with senior team members, ensuring everything comes full circle. He not only talks to his senior team members, but Mr. West also speaks with his floor staff, seeking confirmation that this senior team meets his expectations. Mr. West also went on to talk about how not every method works the same for all departments. Knowledge such as this is where his time and experience at Harrah help him be a better leader for his departments.

Since I am in our community’s educational field, I find it always necessary to ask EBCI leaders, “What advice do you have for an upcoming graduate who aspires to obtain a position such as yours?” Mr. West’s response was so well put that summarizing it would not do it justice. Below is a clip from this portion of the interview. 

In summary, it was a true pleasure to speak and get to know Mr.West. As someone who is continuously trying to find more role models for our EBCI youth, I cant wait to share Mr. West’s journey with them. In our case, here in Cherokee, we live by the motto “One Team, One family backed by a Nation.” and having strong leaders in our community only impacts our future generations to come. I believe that even after his time at Harrah’s, Mr. West will continue to use his skills to better the economic development of our tribe. He has a unique professional story, and I can not wait to work with him in the years to come.

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