JMU Grad Interview: Emilee Haverkamp

We interviewed Emi Haverkamp, a JMU alum who graduated last May from the HTM program, about her current position with HSMAI! Emi was the creator of our Dukes in Hospitality blog and the lovely Madison Entertaining Magazine. We are so excited to share this great success story from a JMU grad of Hospitality! Enjoy!

  • How did you learn about HSMAI and what did you do to prepare for this job position?

HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) is a non-profit association that serves the hospitality industry with a core team of nine people. It is positioned in an association management company called Coulter, headquartered in McLean, VA. Coulter provides association management services for 18 different nonprofit associations; marketing, experiential, and corporate event management for non-profit and for-profit clients; and corporate consulting services that helps clients implement strategic and innovative solutions to organizational challenges.

I am a huge advocate for students realizing the importance of networking. I had been told all through my college career that I should use every opportunity to build relationships and be memorable with everyone I interacted with. It ended up really paying off for me in the end! I learned of the open position at HSMAI because of my past networking with Blake Kotenbrink, who works at Coulter as the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Coulter Events Agency. I had interviewed with Blake for a summer internship and kept in communication with him post-interview. Without my knowledge, during the week of JMU Graduation, Blake had passed my resume on to the President and CEO of HSMAI, Bob Gilbert, for a recently opened full-time position that Blake thought I should be considered for. The Monday after Graduation, I received communication from Bob that the leadership team wanted to interview me that week, and three days later I was employed in a position that I was very excited for. As I started my work in my new role, I made sure to ask a lot of candid questions and be very honest with my leadership team about my expectations, my strengths, my weaknesses, etc. In my role I have many responsibilities and no two days are the same. I was able to find a job in hospitality with generous pay, full benefits, flexible work hours, and a company where I can really see the difference I am making in the industry. I work Monday through Friday, and am able to pick my own hours so I can usually be found in the office from 7:00 -3:00. This gives me my whole evening to spend doing the things I enjoy in my free time. Overall, I’d say that I am very happy that during my job hunt I waited for the offer that would best match my ‘checklist’ of personal wants in a career. By staying true to myself and being patient, yet proactive, I was able to find a great fit.

  • What is the overall experience like working for HSMAI? What do your day-to-day tasks involve? What are some of the major projects you’ve worked on so far or are in the workings?

With HSMAI, my official title is the Business Development Manager. Being on such a small team that produces such a vast amount of events, products, research, etc. in the industry every year, I have a great amount of varied responsibilities that keep me very busy. I love that I have the opportunity to throw myself into projects that someone my age typically doesn’t get the exposure to, and that my leadership team supports and implements my creativity, ideas, and skills on a regular basis. I have active involvement in my organization’s event management, strategic marketing, public relations, business development, budgeting strategy, and more. As a young professional who would like to be an entrepreneur one day, the value of having this role directly out of undergrad is priceless.

My typical day-to-day tasks revolve around managing HSMAI’s partnership program by: soliciting partners for all products, programs, and services in alignment with the annual plan and budget of HSMAI; preparing annual contracts for key partner accounts (cash and trade); securing advertising for partners within production timelines for enewsletters, event marketing, and publications; securing collateral and communicating onsite requirements to conference partners; generating thank you correspondence and post event deliverables; managing the master tracking & deliverables of annual partnerships; preparing invoices as needed and reconciling receipts with partner agreements; and responding to inquiries and leads expeditiously. I would say that all of my partnership duties make up about 50% of my daily work.

Other projects I might have include creating digital marketing materials and digital media presentations for HSMAI conferences and events, certifications, educational services, and partnership opportunities; executing project management of HSMAI Executive Roundtables through developing the target databases, personalized invitations, & RSVP management, assisting with content development with other HSMAI team members and partners, providing insight and expertise in the development of the HSMAI Knowledge Center and web site, and assisting with special projects on an ad hoc basis; and finally, providing general support to the HSMAI President and Executive Vice Presidents through receiving and distributing inbound mail, responding to online inquiries, managing outbound mail, entering & editing records in our databases and pulling reports as needed.

The most exciting project that I am currently working on is acting as the public relations and sponsorship lead for the 2012 HSMAI Adrian Awards Gala. The HSMAI Adrian Awards is the biggest and most premier awards show globally, celebrating the best of the best in advertising, public relations, and digital marketing campaigns in the hospitality industry. It is a huge honor to receive an Adrian Award and be recognized as a thought leader in front of all of the hospitality industry. Being a lead on the event’s management team is a wonderful responsibility and has been the most significant learning experience I’ve had thus far.

  • What is it like working with top executives when you’re 22 years old fresh out of college?

The people I work with are at the top of their game, and have been in hospitality for a very long time. I am consistently inspired by their zeal for the industry, their established best business practices, and their knowledge of what it takes to truly be successful in the hospitality business. It can definitely be intimidating to be the youngest mind in the room, but it has taught me to really be engaged in the industry, to remain relevant, and be heard. Whether it be keeping up with the latest industry news, or connecting with the executive professionals outside of expected work interactions, I have developed the practice of staying on top of the industry. Because of the unique responsibilities in my role, I have had the opportunity to interact with the top executives at very significant companies in the industry today – Google, Marriott, Expedia, American Express, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and more. Being surrounded by such key constituents within the industry every day is not what I ever expected as my first job out of college, but I can only take the opportunities I am given to present myself through HSMAI in a professional and knowledgeable way and establish a positive name for myself amongst these executives.

  • What are your future goals with this company? Do you plan on broadening your education? (going back to school/ getting another degree)

I honestly love my job and I’d like to work for HSMAI for the next couple of years while I pursue graduate school. I am planning on going back to school to pursue a Masters degree in public relations. Through my work with HSMAI and our partners, I have found that I have a strong heart for the public relations side of hospitality. My ultimate goal is to establish my own public relation firm that works solely with hospitality organizations. HSMAI is providing me with the professional skill development, experience, and networking to really get to know the people of the industry, and I would be very happy continuing with this role until I finish graduate school and transition into a position in the public relations segment.

  • What did you take from the HTM program that gave you this position you are in today?

The HTM program taught me how to incorporate strategic business thinking in a creative and service-oriented industry. The hands-on approach to JMU’s curriculum really allowed me to apply my classroom learning into tangible projects and events that gave me the experience and confidence to be successful immediately out of college. I think the biggest asset of JMU’s program is the faculty – they gave me the resources, knowledge, and opportunities as an undergrad to really take me far at a young age in the industry. My best advice to current seniors and underclassmen at JMU would be to really take advantage of those faculty members and absorb as much of their knowledge as you can. Consider all of the learning opportunities a very valuable use of your time, determine what your strengths and passions are, and seek out the extra opportunities that will push you beyond your expectations and make you an even more experienced, competitive candidate upon your Graduation date.

JMU Alumni: Chef Rodney S. Stockett


Rodney set a JMU football single game record of 266 all-purpose yardage on 11/15/87. He averaged 21.5 yards per reception and 26.9 yards per kick return for the season, all while carrying the football like a loaf of bread. I guess a sign to come!

Born in Okinawa, Japan to Romeo (now a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S Air Force) and Sara Stockett, an elementary school teacher in Willingboro, New Jersey, Rodney attended Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia; in 1984 he received a football scholarship to James Madison University in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where Rodney achieved a bachelors degree in Hospitality. Rodney feels that his background and travels, which includes several trips to his beloved France, continues to form his passion for cooking. Rodney has traveled extensively through France to learn a greater appreciation for his trade.

Rodney refined his culinary skills at the award winning La Fourchette Restaurant in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Before ending his time at La Fourchette, one of Gourmet Magazine’s top five tables in the Philadelphia area 1995-97, he attained the position of Sous-Chef. Rodney then joined the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia team from 1997-1999. There, Rodney had the opportunity not only to develop his talents but was also able to work with renowned chefs from around the world. Rodney strongly believes that working with chefs of such high caliber gave him humility and a sense of what it means to become a chef. The Ritz Carlton Wine Festival dinners also provided opportunity to hone his skill of pairing wines with foods.

Rodney joined the Paris-based Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia as the first Chef de Cuisine (Restaurant Chef) of Chez Colette before its May 2000 opening. The brasserie served traditional dishes such as coq au vin, choucroute and cassoulet for over a year and featured its’ own croissants and baguettes that were prepared fresh daily in the hotel. Rodney was trained in traditional French bread techniques and received his Certificate Boulangerie from Ecole Lenotre (the famous institute for pastry and baking in France). Rodney then led his culinary team into a more contemporary French style of cooking while continuing to utilize traditional techniques. Rodney continued to help build a strong culinary following at Chez Colette and expanded on the restaurants’ cuisine and charm. In March 2001, He was promoted to Executive Sous Chef of the Sofitel, while maintaining his responsibilities of Chef de Cuisine. Chef Rodney also opened award winning Chez Gabrielle in New York City and Le Architeche in Chicago during his tenure with the Sofitel. “The Color of Food” is Rodney’s passion, in which he shares his enjoyment of fine food and good company wherever and with whomever he can. You can learn more about The Color of Food by visiting their website!

 Last week, our renowned chef met with students from the HM/SRM 201 Foundation courses!

Job Posting: Assistant Manager at The Holiday Inn & Suites Front Royal Blue Ridge Shadows

The Holiday Inn & Suites Front Royal Blue Ridge Shadows is an award winning 124-room full service, conference hotel with a Houlihan’s Restaurant + Bar and Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Course. We are seeking a dedicated and loyal Assistant Manager to manage the day-to-day operations of the property under the guidance of Brent C Jackson, General Manager, a 2003 JMU Graduate (Hospitality and Tourism Management).

Job Description:
Provide day-to-day leadership and direction by maximizing financial returns, driving development of people, creating and maintaining a unique guest experience, executing on brand standards, assisting in accounting practices and building awareness of hotel and brand in the local community.

At Holiday Inn® we want our guests to relax and be themselves which means we need you to:

  • Be you by being natural, professional and personable in the way you are with people
  • Get ready by taking notice and using your knowledge so that you are prepared for anything
  • Show you care by being thoughtful in the way you welcome and connect with guests
  • Take action by showing initiative, taking ownership and going the extra mile

Job Requirements:
Bachelor’s degree / higher education qualification / equivalent in Hotel Administration, Business Administration, or two or more years of prior hotel management experience or equivalent combination of education and experience. Must speak fluent English. Other languages encouraged.

The statements in this job description are intended to describe the essential nature and level of work being performed. They are not intended to be ALL responsibilities or qualifications of the job.

To apply, contact Brent Jackson at with your resume and cover letter.  Thank you!

Summer Internships: Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club

Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, NJ is offering a paid internship for the upcoming summer under the supervision of alumni Doug Graubard, Director of Events. The club is the largest corporate based club in the country, currently bridging the gap into the individual/family member club market. Mr. Graubard handles an events department that hosts over 450 events annually. The club is also able to offer housing for the summer. For more information, contact Doug Graubard.

Doug Graubard
Director of Events
Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club
811 Rattlesnake Bridge Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921
Phone: 908-439-2123 ext. 108
Cell: 908-448-9153
Fax: 908-439-3741

Making Connections: Upcoming Guest Speakers

We have a fantastic variety of guest speakers from the hospitality industry visiting campus through the first weeks of February! If you are interested in networking with these individuals, please take note of the dates they will be at JMU.

02/07 Tuesday

Stonewall Jackson Hotel

Ms. Carol Simon, General Manager

Ms. Simon, a 25 year veteran with Crestline Hotels & Resorts, was formerly General Manager at the 134 guest room Brasstown Valley Resort, an upscale, full-service destination resort and conference center, in the North Georgia Mountains. Her extensive hospitality industry career spans more than 30 years and includes management positions with the Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place, the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, the Berkeley Marina Marriott and Holiday Inn Hotels.

Ms. Simon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Arizona State University, and a Masters of Business Administration from Golden Gate University. She has served on numerous tourism and community councils, and as vice president of Rotary International.

02/09 Thursday

Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ms. Allison Hannah, Sports Development Manager

A 2005 Alumni of James Madison University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Ms. Hannah received a Masters in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School Of Business while starting her career at the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Her position revolves around marketing the Richmond Region as a premier destination for the sports, religious and multicultural market segments.

Primary job responsibilities include conducting market research, planning market specific sales missions, participating in industry trade and events, hosting educational trips for prospective meetings planners, and building strategic partnerships with key industry partners, including hotels, sports venues, housing bureaus and community stakeholders in efforts to generate confirmed room night bookings.

02/16 Thursday

The Homestead

Mr. Peter Faraone, Vice President and General Manager

After five years in sales with Marriott, Mr. Faraone was afforded an opportunity to join Ritz-Carlton Hotels 1983 in a regional sales capacity and in early 1984 was named the pre-opening Director of Sales and Marketing at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Florida. In 1988 Mr. Faraone was promoted to the Vice President of Sales for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

During his time leading the sales effort for the company, he was able to travel the world and open hotels in Sydney, Australia, Hong Kong, Tokyo and two in the Hawaiian Islands. For the past fourteen years, Peter has performed in many capacities for KSL Resorts, none more rewarding that leading the wonderful team that he works with at The Homestead each day.