gmhTODAY 22 gmhToday Oct Nov 2018 - Page 59

A t the age of 33, the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s Member and Community Relations Director, Brittney Sherman, has a career that could be the envy of many people twice her age. Though Sherman is a natural fit for the people-heavy interactions of her work with the Chamber, she says, “I kind of fell into it.” Her work history is comprised of what she calls an “into the fire” strategy at every job she’s ever had, with a tendency to get hired on the spot at job interviews. Hospitality and community involvement is not where she thought she would end up. The daughter of a retired Sheriff and a law secretary, she studied criminal justice imagining she’d follow in her parents’ legal footsteps. However, all it took was studying for the LSAT to help her realize that law was not her destiny. Instead, she found her way into event planning while going through college. “I found it was my niche,” she said. This surprised her somewhat, given that she was “really shy” in high school, but event planning and hospitality “helped break me out of my shell,” she said. From there, she married a Marine helicopter pilot (now her ex-husband) and spent several years traveling from such places as Texas, to Florida to North Carolina, taking jobs at every stop along the way. Her first serious job in hospitality was at a Hilton in Corpus Christi, Texas. “I just walked in and gave them my resume. It so happened they needed someone,” she explained. She spent a year as the food and beverage manager and soon worked her way into corporate sales for other hotels, beginning her career in earnest. Though corporate sales was grueling work at times, she found that she loved interacting with and meeting new people. Each new job in each new town required her to get deeply involved in the local community, and she took full advantage of that, joining social clubs and professional organizations. When her now-six-year-old son was born, she was able to take advantage of a tightly knit officers’ wives club that never allowed her an opportunity to feel lonely. Eventually, Sherman returned to the South Bay and took a job as Director of Sales for the Morgan Hill Marriott hotel, located off Cochrane Road. It was at that time that she connected with the Chamber’s CEO, John Horner. She joined the Chamber Board, and soon after, Horner asked her to be a hotel liaison to the Chamber. When John sat her down and told her that he was consolidating several Chamber jobs into one and he offered that position to her, it was literally a dream come true. “I remember a conversation with John when I was still working at the Marriott but doing a lot of volunteering with the Chamber. I thought, if only I could make money [working for the chamber], it would be my ideal job.” In January of 2017, she formally took the job as Member and Community Relations Director for the Chamber. As the only full-time employee of the Chamber, working alongside Horner and Director of Publications, Mellea McLaughlin, Sherman is the perfect example of someone GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN who wears multiple hats; and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Like any small business, I do a lot of things—some invoicing, some accounts payable, retaining members, reaching new members, social media,” Sherman said with a smile. She’s also well-recognized within the community; several times during the interview someone waved or stopped to say hello to her. She noticed an instant difference in the way business was done at the Chamber versus how it was in the world of corporate hotel sales. “In corporate, it’s a cutthroat industry. You don’t share info, clients, etcetera.” In contrast, she said when Horner sent her to a conference for Chamber professionals, “I made instant friends. Everyone was sharing information. I was very pleasantly surprised.” Since then, she’s been plenty busy with existing Chamber duties, ranging from member retention, to advocacy to pulling off their three signature events—Celebrate Morgan Hill, an awards ceremony; Taste of Morgan Hill; and the increasingly popular Friday Night Music Series. She’s especially excited about several new projects the Chamber is launching or participating in. The City of Morgan Hill passed a resolution to form a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), which will give the Chamber and its members more opportunities to help highlight Morgan Hill as a tourism destination. “John has been a proponent of this for years, and I’ve been in the mix due to my hospitality and hotel back- ground,” she said. Additionally, she’s been instrumental in getting Chamber Travel off the ground. It formally launches next year. “A lot of people want to travel but they might not have time to do the research.” Chamber Travel does the leg- work for people, by organizing and booking the trips, and planning the events and stops along the way. Then Chamber members simply sign up, at a discount, and go along. In 2019 a trip is planned to New England; and in 2020, to Ireland and the Tuscan coast of Italy. In addition to these projects with the Chamber, Sherman’s “pet project” is the South County Young Professionals Network (SCYP’N), which she founded four years ago. The group holds monthly mixers and fundraisers and engages in other forms of networking. “We try to highlight young professionals and their businesses, but it’s all encompassing. You can join as long as you’re young at heart.” She invites any interested business owner to take advantage of the Chamber’s resources, as well as monthly mixers and breakfasts, weekly lunches, and numerous events. Members are included in the annual directory and listed on the Chamber website and Facebook page. Sherman loves her work with the Chamber and looks forward to continuing to connect with local businesses and the community . “The Chamber is a diverse but accepting group of people,” she said. “When it comes to community involvement, everyone is very agreeable.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 59