What year did you graduate Prairie High School?
I graduated from Prairie High School in 2004.
What activities were you involved in at Prairie?
Cheerleading – Competition, Football, Basketball
What is your current position?
Regional Director of Digital Marketing, Americas for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
Where is your place of employment?
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, a luxury hospitality company located in New York City.
What are your job responsibilities?
It is my responsibility to plan, execute and manage the digital marketing strategy for Mandarin Oriental hotels within North and South America. Major topics I focus on are website optimizations including SEO, paid search campaigns for Google, Bing and Yahoo and paid social media campaigns while always trying to remain innovative in the hospitality/travel industry. With a portfolio of hotels around the globe everything I do needs to also be considered for other cultures and languages. What works within our typical digital space in America is completely different in Asian and European markets and I need to entice guests to stay in our Americas properties from all countries.
Describe your career/educational path since graduating from Prairie High School.
After graduating from Prairie I attended the University of Iowa double majoring in Business Administration and Marketing. I began my career with People to People Ambassador Programs; an international travel company for students with a mission to understand other cultures. After People to People I moved to Las Vegas, focusing on hospitably marketing with MGM Resorts International. Upon joining Mandarin Oriental, I’ve relocated to New York City.
What advice would you
give to today’s high school graduates?
Dream big: I love the saying “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” by Earl Nightingale. It’s true 100% of the time.
Lead, don’t follow: Who would have thought one of the biggest transportation companies wouldn’t own any cars (Uber), an industry leader in hospitality wouldn’t own any property (Airbnb) and clothing rental could be a more cost effective way to shop than actually shopping (Rent the Runway). None of these companies existed when I was in high school and I never would have thought their business model would have worked. The strategy was brand new and they all solved a problem we didn’t even know we had.
Try to love what you do: It will make life so much more enjoyable.
Anything else you would like to add?
My ultimate goal was to live in New York City while truly enjoying my profession. I am grateful that my career allows me to see the world while meeting amazing people along the way; however I am more grateful to have very supportive friends and family who helped me get here. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them constantly encouraging me. It is important to find people in your life who support your most wild and crazy dreams. Make sure you keep those people close to you. They will be the ones to celebrate your wins and pick you up during your difficult times because with every goal achieved there are plenty of disappointments along the way. The disappointments are what makes the win that much sweeter.