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Linda Chen: Building a multi-billion dollar 'Las Vegas of the east'

From Sheena McKenzie, for CNN, and Kristie Lu Stout, CNN
updated 5:14 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Meet Linda Chen, the 'queen' of Macau casino empire
  • Tipped as successor to business magnate Steve Wynn
  • Chen to open new multi-billion dollar Wynn Palace
  • Has lucky 8888 phone number, apparently present from boss

Editor's note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time -- remarkable professionals who have made it to the top in all areas of business, the arts, sport, culture, science and more.

(CNN) -- The 'queen' of Macau's gambling empire is about to unveil a new palace.

The foundations are already being laid for Macau's new multi-billion dollar casino-resort, named -- aptly enough -- Wynn Palace.

It will be the latest jewel in U.S. business magnate Steve Wynn's glittering casino crown, after he originally built Las Vegas's premier Bellagio, and The Mirage -- now owned by MGM Resorts International.

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And the person to launch it? Forty-seven year old executive director Linda Chen.

Often sighted as a likely successor to billionaire Wynn, Taiwanese-born Chief Operating Officer Chen oversaw the opening of luxury gaming, hotel, and retail complex Wynn Macau, in 2006.

And she's not about to stop there.

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"When we first came to Macau, the scene was more about gaming," Chen told CNN's Kristie Lu Stout. "And the aspiration for Macau, the reason we wanted to be here, is taking it to the next level.

"In Vegas, it's no longer just about gaming. It's about the entertainment. It's where you would consider the best shows in the world, the best shopping, and the best restaurants. It's about the whole experience, and that's what we wanted to do here."

In its first year Wynn Macau quadrupled its annual revenue from $1 billion to $4.5billion, under Chen's stewardship.One of Asia's 50 most powerful businesswomen, according to Forbes, Chen has worked her socks off to become the second in command at Wynn. But could luck also have played a part in her success?

Come 2016, Wynn Macau (pictured) will have a sister casino.
Getty Images

Chen apparently has the number 8888 -- considered lucky in Chinese culture -- for her phone, a present from her wealthy boss.

Luck or no luck, gaming was not the direction Chen or her parents saw her career going, when she graduated from New York's Cornell University in 1989.

"It was the end of the world for them," she says with a laugh.

"For Chinese parents coming from Taiwan, they never knew anybody else who worked in the casino industry. They never thought somebody would live outside the casinos in Las Vegas. So it took a while, but eventually they were supportive."

Stepping out of her private jet, Chen appears every inch the high-flying business superstar. But when asked about one day succeeding Wynn himself, she is a little reticent.

"Mr Wynn's very young, he is not ready to retire soon," Chen says with a smile. "I hope he works for another 30, 40 years -- and I'll be alongside with him."

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