When he wanted to take his career in a new direction, Zachary White didn’t need to leave Cherokee Nation Businesses. Instead, he left his comfort zone.

White graduated from Nowata High School and Rogers State University, earning a degree in human resources in 2013. He was soon hired at Cherokee Nation Entertainment to work in human resources at Cherokee Casino Ramona. Although he enjoyed his work, White became increasingly interested in the operations side of the business. Working next door to the general manager of the property, White watched, learned and asked a lot of questions.

Cherokee Casino South Coffeyville opened in 2015 and was the perfect opportunity for White to make a move. His promotion to customer service administrator, however, meant leaving his calm, back-of-house office to work the bustling gaming floor. The switch was a major change for White, who prefers quiet, solitary activities like hunting and fishing when he’s not on the job.

He acclimated quickly to the fast-pace environment and discovered he enjoys working with other casino gaming floor employees and casino guests. The first sign that he made the right move was the day he paid out his first jackpot winner.

“The cashier later told me, ‘You’ve been smiling all day,’” he said.

Gaining more experience in administration is now White’s career focus. He wants someday to manage his own CNE gaming property, and he knows the opportunity is within reach.

“I thought I had it all figured out, but I learned that your curiosity can lead you in any direction,” White said. “You have to adapt your career goals, and CNE has allowed me to do that.”

Each year, CNE reinvests 65 percent of its gaming profits into job creation for Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2017, that investment was $74.6 million.