Editor’s note: Women Making an Impact is a series of articles that highlights successful women in the industry. If you would like to nominate someone for recognition please send submissions to Kristen Santoro at ksantoro[email protected].
After relocating three years ago, native New Yorker Kristin Conte is making a significant impact on the Las Vegas community as Director of Marketing for TAO Group. A former Senior Manager of Marketing Communications for the NBA, Conte has seamlessly transitioned into the role, leading marketing, public relations, advertising, social media and event strategy for TAO Asian Bistro & Nightclub, TAO Beach, LAVO Italian Restaurant & Lounge and Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub. “The opportunity to get into hospitality and nightlife seemed like a natural extension from what I had previously been doing,” explains Conte.
Growing up in Queens, N.Y., Conte attended Syracuse University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, which laid the foundation for her future positions. Currently, Conte spearheads initiatives that keep the TAO Group running smoothly, particularly surrounding restaurant development and nightlife programming. Yet her duties extend beyond dining and nightlife as she also oversees TAO Group Cares, the charitable arm of the company. Taking a hands-on approach to the community-driven organization, Conte leads the charge in employee involvement, coordinating events that benefit local charitable organizations as well as national and international programs.
Nightclub & Bar spoke with Conte to find out more about her journey to the top of the nightlife industry.
What drew you to the nightlife industry and how did you get started?
Lou Abin called me and said he was looking for someone that had corporate experience outside of the nightlife industry who could bring a different perspective to the department and to the company. I wouldn't have moved my life to Vegas and made the jump to this industry working for any other group than TAO Group and the opportunity to work with my sister, who was the Director of Restaurant Operations at the time, was a big plus.
What were some of the struggles you faced at the beginning of your career?
Coming from a sports background was a big challenge for me. There was a big learning curve with nightlife and hospitality. I also had to quickly learn about the exploding dance music scene in Vegas which is not something that I had been exposed to in New York. I wasn't used to the culture of nightlife and how that translated into the strange hours that people work and the party atmosphere of working for a nightclub. I'm a New Yorker so I brought a really direct, tough love, no BS hustle to the department and I have high expectations of the people who work for me. Not everyone has that New York mentality so I've had to make adjustments and so have the people who have worked for me and who still work for me.
What has been your greatest career achievement?
I wouldn't be able to just pick one. I've always been very proud of how I have followed my gut with all the career decisions that I've made - inside and outside of nightlife. I've always picked opportunities that I knew would contribute to my overall growth and development as a professional and ones where I knew I could make a difference. I've turned down job offers over the years for a lot of money because I knew I wouldn't be happy doing the job and that's the most important thing at the end of the day. It sounds cliché but it's true.
What advice would you give to women trying to make a name for themselves in the nightlife industry?
First, I would say you should try to make a name for yourself as a hard working professional - no matter what industry you are currently working in because you never know where your career is going to take you. You have to work hard. You have to put in the hours and have the dedication to be better than everybody else. And that means you'll probably have to sacrifice a lot of things early on in order to gain that experience. The biggest mistake I see young women making when they come out of college early on in their career in this industry is that they either think that their looks are going to get them ahead - that only lasts for so long - or they think the job is always going to be fun. It's not always fun. This is a business and it is big business. Stay in the office, volunteer to take on new projects, and learn as much as you can while you can. There will always be another party and there will always be another sunny day.
What is your favorite part of what you do and why?
I have the opportunity to work in a lot of different areas with a range of projects. It's different every single day. I also love the team of people I've been able to work with - some who have moved on but others who are still here. I've learned a lot about business and management and mentoring. It's not easy but I've never taken the easy path in my career. The challenge is what drives me.
Editor's note: Kristin's sister Alissa Conte is also making an impact. See her article HERE.