This week in our She Leads series we highlight Tammy K. Billings. Tammy shares with us that it's never too late to go back to school and get your MBA, and even in a pandemic you can still advance your career. This month Tammy takes her next journey with Wisely https://www.getwisely.com/ a restaurant technology company that powers a personalized dining experience. #womenleaders #womeninhospitality #nightingalehospitality #sheleads
How did you get your start in the industry? What was your first position?
Having dropped out of college when my parents divorced - I didn't finish my undergraduate degree until I was 30. Until then, I had been working for a financial company doing Marketing & Communications for almost 9 years. My goal was to get into entertainment -- restaurants are as close as I got.
I met Lisa Herzlich, who at the time was SVP for AEG working to open L.A. LIVE. Lisa hired me to do Special Projects (farmers market, jazz series, etc.) and within a few months we realized the challenges those presented and we abandoned some of the initiatives and I took over as Marketing Director to help open the $2.5B Entertainment District that would be the catalyst for the revitalization of Downtown L.A.
We opened in 2008, during the height of the recession. We had 14 restaurants that desperately needed help. Lisa came to me and said, "Your only job is to make sure these restaurants don't fail. Do whatever it takes to support them." And that's how it started. Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. were all new at the time - there were these 'free' marketing assets and we were effectively writing the strategies at that time. Wow, how those tools have changed too!
I got to learn all about restaurant marketing and stuck with it from there on. Since then I've had the good fortune of leading marketing for two restaurant groups and then after finishing my MBA (at age 40) I've made a successful transition to restaurant technology.
Name a mentor that made significant impact on your career.
There were so many women along the way in my career that helped me grow - professionally and personally. I had the good fortune of working for a Company run by strong women throughout my early 20s. In my young career, I never felt the impacts of sexism -- I thought every Company was run by amazing ladies!
On that note, the woman who I would say I learned the most from was my boss at that time, Nevenkra Krstic, I didn't realize what I really had until I got older when I got to compare her leadership skills to that of others. She helped me grow in so many ways -- trusting me to run a department, teaching me how to use chopsticks so I didn't look silly at a corporate lunch, taking me to conferences and putting me out front -- never afraid it made her look 'less than'. She was wonderful and really lifted me up.
I recall one time casually asking her if I could grab her dry cleaning when I grabbed mine. She looked at me and asked if I wanted to be a secretary? Of course, I responded 'no' to which she replied, 'well, don't act like one'. I don't need an assistant - I need your brain. Initially, I may have been annoyed as I was just doing what I would do for any colleague - but I got it eventually. And I even ended up using that same statement and tactic with two young women who worked for me years later.
The Advice I Would Give to the Next Generation of Leaders
Do what others won't. Go the extra mile.
I have offered my personal help to many young women growing in their own careers. I've made countless introductions, provided feedback on resumes, strategize for promotions, or have just been a cheerleader. I do the things that others don't -- or won't. I go the extra mile.
So my advice is to send that hard copy note saying thank you, to reach out and offer support when you don't need anything in return, to stay the extra few minutes to help a colleague, to stop what you're doing to listen... go the extra mile for someone else and I guarantee it will feel good to do good. People will notice, you don't need to shout it out. Just do it.
Where You Can Find Me Saturday Mornings
I like to hike and I spend weekend mornings with friends usually up near Lake Hollywood or one of the other amazing hiking spots Los Angeles offers. Generally, that's followed by brunch and I'm home ready for the weekend by 10 AM.