Meet a Local Leader: Alex Dixon

Alex Dixon

President and COO, Q Casino and Dubuque Racing Association

A former investment banker with Goldman Sachs and seasoned executive in the gaming industry, Dixon has more than 18 years experience in mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and hospitality development.

Dixon is a 2003 graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dixon started at Goldman as an analyst, where he worked on the $638 million IPO of Jackson Hewitt as well as Disney’s $7.5 billion acquisition of Pixar before leaving to join Silver Pacific Advisors LLC, a boutique investment firm in the gaming and real estate space.

Within two years, he was tapped by Caesars Entertainment to join the resort side of the industry. Prior to his current role, Alex led West Coast operations for PureStar, a unified family of commercial laundry companies spanning three countries and 25 U.S. markets across North America. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Las Vegas, Who are Shaping The City by

In March 2020, Dixon was tapped by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to serve on The Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force. Additional volunteer experience includes executive committee of the Greater Dubuque Development Corp., former chair-elect of the Vegas Chamber of Commerce, former trustee American International College, former president of the Las Vegas Urban League Young Professionals and member of Black Men Coalition Dubuque Chapter and Young Presidents Organization (YPO) Iowa Chapter.

Alex is married to Yindra Dixon. His children are Alex Jr. who attends Dubuque Senior High School, and twins, Parker and Peyton, who attend George Washington Middle School.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

John Payne is the president and chief operating officer of VICI, the nation’s fifth largest real estate investment trust. I had the privilege of serving as his chief of staff while I worked at Caesars Entertainment. Watching him manage his boss, direct reports, regulators and business leaders in the communities in which we operated was a seminal moment in my career. That experience helped to shape my personal leadership style.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

  • How and who should we hire and fire?
  • What risks are we willing to take as an organization?
  • How do we express our values within our annual operating and capital budget?

As an organization gets larger, there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be humble.
  • Stay close to your team. In our case, spend time on the floor. Listen directly to your team and to your customers.
  • Celebrate the small wins. For example, we just installed a new popcorn machine in our concession stand at the Ice Arena and everyone is excited to provide a better experience for our frontline team and customers. Now on to nacho cheese.

Which is more important to your organization – mission, core values or vision? Mission is most important to our organization. It reads as follows.

Dubuque Racing Association through its gaming and entertainment facilities provides for social, economic and community betterment and lessens the burden of Dubuque city and area government, while contributing to the growth and viability of Dubuque area tourism

Fulfilling each word expressed within this sentence, our organization has delivered $1 billion of economic impact to the state, city, local charities and employees. Vision and values might change with different executives; however, our mission has and will remain intact.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Empathy.

Martin Moore speaks eloquently that leaders should possess empathy and not let that devolve into sympathy. He writes that “If you combine empathy with the right leadership behaviors — strength of character and uncompromising standards — it will build the foundations for everything you need to do as a leader.”

What advice do you have for future leaders? Follow the money. New leaders must understand how your organization generates revenues and spends those resources. Too many leaders often are just “happy to be here” and take no interest in learning what makes your business tick.

What lessons can leaders take away from the current pandemic?

  • Public health is an input to a robust economy not a luxury of a robust one.
  • Health care and broadband are infrastructure no different than roads, bridges and water treatment facilities.
  • CEOs didn’t keep our country running; nurses and frontline workers did. Be kind and improve their pay.
  • Activity does not equal progress. Continue to question what you do and why you do it.

What are two or three of the best things about being a leader?

  • Developing other leaders and unlocking potential in people is the single most gratifying aspect of being a leader.
  • Bringing people together to develop a winning culture.