Meet Jennifer Baldwin: Work, Family, Food, Love
I first met Jennifer one week before the INNO event last year. I had been working with the INNO team for the past few weeks getting the final prep work done before the big, inaugural event took place on April 28, 2019. Jennifer was hired to do both Revelry operations (which was sorely needed) and help manage INNO (also sorely needed).
I don’t think it’s easy, in any way whatsoever, to get thrown into a massive project, let alone an event, that you know nothing about, with people you’re just meeting, and be able to be helpful and successful. Jennifer was both, by a mile.
I was so impressed with how she immediately rolled up her sleeves, ate a baby carrot, and got to work. Without her, the INNO VIP lunch on Wednesday would not have gone nearly as smoothly. Her passion, drive, enthusiasm, and professionalism are inspiring. Not to mention she is also a caring and fun person to be around.
Over the past several months, we’ve gotten to know each other much better as we continue to overlap on projects, which is fantastic because I absolutely love working with Jennifer. Even though she didn’t come to Revelry with any sort of technical background, what she did bring — her experience in sales, events, and managing teams — has proven invaluable. Plus, her personality is a breath of fresh air in how she approaches problems.
I’m so honored to get to work alongside Jennifer while we do our thing to make Revelry the best it can possibly be. I am also super excited for Jennifer’s next chapter as a mother, coming this summer!
I asked Jennifer questions about her past experiences and more, so let’s get to it!
How did you hear about Revelry?
I’d known about Revelry since the beginnings of the company, and I always believed in it. I remember Gerard’s old startup Unawkward. I knew he was passionate about it, and it was inspiring to our friend group to watch his journey. It’s been fun to watch Revelry grow to where it is today.
What drove your decision to join Revelry?
I came to Revelry after a 10+ year career in the hospitality industry. I had arrived at a point professionally where I was ready to “get uncomfortable”, learn, and go in another direction. When the opportunity came up to officially join Revelry, all signs pointed to yes. So I jumped in.
Why do you do what you do?
I love being a part of a team. It’s like team sports: we’re all working together towards the same end goal. We all have different skills but we want to be the best and grow!
At Revelry, I thoroughly enjoy the people and perspective of everyone I’m working with. I like the empowerment and freedom in this work atmosphere to make decisions and run with them.
What are some similarities between hospitality and tech?
I initially thought there would be none. I was very intimidated in the beginning. When I worked at corporate hotels, there was structure, boundaries, rules, hard deadlines, and lots of consistency. I didn’t think there would be much of that at Revelry, but I soon found out that our project teams operate within the Lean Agile process, which offers hotel-like consistency & structure that folks need.
I also found that basic workplace necessities and management skills are transitable. Everyone enjoys having guidelines and clear expectations at work, so they know they are doing a good job. We are slowly adding more of that into the non-project teams, and I feel that it’s healthy and exciting.
How did you handle the transition from a non-technical to a technical company?
When I first came on board, I sought relationships with others who came to Revelry without a technical background. My goal was to feel a kinship and a sense of belonging while I was getting my bearings.
I quickly learned who I could bug with simple, dumb questions and who was patient enough to empathetically explain and break things down for me. I found pairing sessions to be invaluable. No one wants to be that open and vulnerable about admitting what you don’t know in front of a large group.
Tell me more about your people management experiences
I have managed everyone from line-level employees to high-level senior managers. The teams ranged in size from 2-3 to over 100 people.
Managing people is an emotional journey. You want to see people succeed. The best reward is to see your team members exceed goals, get promotions, and receive validation. Having a hand in the successes and failures of the journey is a gift.
Tell me more about your last job in the hospitality industry
At the time, DoubleTree by Hilton on Canal had new owners and had just undergone a $25 million renovation. In order to breathe new life into the hotel and revamp the hotel’s sinking reputation, the GM hired a group of talented folks to focus on rebranding. The hotel had never done formal event and catering sales, but they knew they were missing out since New Orleans is such a big market for that. I was handpicked to give it a try. Even though I had never done sales before, he believed in me which inspired me to go for it.
Within six months, the hotel went from booking two weddings per year to 12+ weddings, multiple holiday parties, fundraisers, community meetings, and corporate trainings. I’m so proud of these sales that resulted in more than tripling Catering profits from the previous year.
After two years of increased sales and Catering profits, we were able to hire more team members to support the Culinary and Banquet teams. I then hired my replacement for Catering Sales and started a new chapter with a dual role as Food & Beverage Director and Director of Catering & Events. My new challenge was to create structure, accountability, and guidance for the new teams so they could run efficiently and eventually independently. After a tough year immersed in F&B operations, I can proudly say these departments were thriving with new menus, equipment, labor & cost controls, training manuals, updated payroll systems, and more as well as achieving revenue goals with happy employees before my departure for Revelry!
What do you love best about Revelry?
The empowerment and trust Revelry puts in its employees is amazing. I’m still deflating from the corporate atmosphere where schedules and rules are very rigid. But I’m rebuilding myself back up with more confidence by managing my own time and schedule.
I’ve always prided myself on my integrity. I ask myself “what’s the right thing to do?” when faced with tough choices. Revelry trusts everyone to call their shots and run with them, even if you end up tripping along the way. I’m grateful for that freedom and flexibility.
Ok, let’s get to the quickfire round!
Tell me about one wild or wacky job you held.
I’ve held many different jobs: server, bartender, popcorn concessions, shot-girl… you name it! Most interesting would be the quick summer I worked for an assisted living home in Virginia. I also worked as a phlebotomist for mobile blood drives drawing blood from donors with 16-gauge needles.
Who inspires you? Why?
My dad, for sure. He is a true problem-solver and motivator. He gives the best pep talks and is the most consistent man I’ve ever met. He’s super positive and always ready to take action. He’s also a great coach and leader.
What’s your favorite Slack channel at Revelry?
I get so stuck in all of them all the time. But I’d have to say #reveats since I’m a foodie.
What’s your favorite emoji in the Revelry Slack?
ALL OF THEM! I love to use emojis and bold font when I write Slack announcements. But my all-time fave is party trash dove. It accurately conveys my enthusiasm.
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