Gretchen Holzhauser says she didn’t choose the gaming industry; it chose her.
“My parents trained thoroughbred racehorses, so I spent a lot of time on the racetrack — reading racing forms and picking winners with my dad,” recalls the Louisiana native. “It just came naturally that I would end up working in the gaming industry.”
In 2006, when Harrah’s New Orleans reopened after Hurricane Katrina, Holzhauser started there as a beverage server. Her career gained momentum over the next several years, and she joined the Scarlet Pearl team in 2017 as operational excellence leader. In March, she was promoted to vice president of human resources.
In a testament to her performance, Emerging Leaders of Gaming and Global Gaming Business Magazine recently named her among its 2021-2022 ELG 40 Under 40. This honor recognizes young professionals making significant contributions in the casino gaming industry and who are poised to be the industry’s next generation of leaders.
Holzhauser was selected from among more than 125 candidates and is the only honoree representing the Southeast United States.
“I was very surprised and honored to be recognized among the ELG 40 under 40; it truly means the world to me,” she says. “I think I’ve had a diverse background with positions in the front and back of house (at the) property and corporate levels and in several major gaming markets, which led me to be a great candidate to represent the gaming industry and the Scarlet Pearl.”
As human resources vice president, Holzhauser has overseen the building of the human resources information system infrastructure from the ground-up, led COVID-prevention and -response efforts for the property’s 800-plus employees and kept the Scarlet Pearl staffed amid a nationwide labor shortage.
“She manages her team and guides the property with compassion, common sense and understanding,” says Scarlet Pearl CEO LuAnn Pappas. “She is one of the few vice presidents of human resources who will be on the floor on a Saturday night, engaging with both employees and guests.”
Holzhauser credits her family, particularly her dad, with inspiring and pushing her to become the woman she is today.
I approach each challenge head on,” she says. “Recently, the hospitality and entertainment industry has struggled to find and retain top talent. We have decided to only hire the best, and to do that, we made the commitment to pay the best.”
At home, Holzhauser has been married to her husband, Robert, for 10 years and is mother to 2-year-old Adelaine. Despite her career success, she considers her daughter to be her greatest accomplishment and primary responsibility.
“My main goal is to be a role model for my daughter and to show her that anything is possible with hard work and a strong drive,” Holzhauser says. “I continue to learn and grow under my current leadership, so I want to continue to leave my mark here at the Scarlet Pearl.”