Driven by a deep sense of adventure, Amanda Lee, General Manager in our Hospitality Management line of business, has found a career doing what she loves in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Initially discovering Aramark as a college student, Amanda Lee took a summer internship opportunity working lodging at Lake Powell. From there, she knew that there was no career path quite like the one she could pursue with Aramark Hospitality Management, leading to her enrollment in Aramark’s Accelerate to leadership (A2L) or graduate development program. From the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast and back, Amanda followed her sense of adventure working at countless parks and destinations across the country.
“As an intern, I started as a lodging intern at Lake Tahoe, then the A2L program took me to Shenandoah National Park. While that was a lovely program and I grew a lot, I also learned that the East Coast wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. So when I finished the program, I was offered a full-time role back at the Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park in Washington. From there, I worked my way up, eventually taking roles at Yosemite National Park, Teton Tour Company in Jackson Hole Wyoming, and eventually Crate Lake National Park where I am now.”
According to Amanda, the experience of working at parks is unlike any other. An explorer at heart, uncommon experiences and unexpected challenges are welcome surprises to her day-to-day. From forest fires and angry momma moose to family memories and heartfelt weddings, there’s never a dull moment in her world.
“One thing that I like to do, is I like to explore. I like to get in the car and just drive to new places, whether that be a city or a beach, or a new mountain, or a new forest that I’ve never been to before. It’s very different, and it takes a unique person to be a ‘Parky.’ For example, I can remember getting a call at 4:30 am from one of my Wranglers in Yosemite because all 50 horses got out of the pasture, and we had to go chase them down. Or more recently, we had this mama moose who’s literally been chasing my staff when they’re out on the trails on snowmobiles. It’s memories like that that are just so exciting and different than anything you would experience outside of this line of business.”
While Aramark’s National park accounts are incredible places to work, it’s not just the stunning landscapes and wildlife that keep Amanda pushing forward. Her passion is for her people, and her commitment to developing others and helping them grow is what drives her as a leader.
“With Aramark, my career ambition was to become a General Manager, and I was 27 years old when that opportunity was given to me. I got really good at my job and then I was like, Okay, now what? At the time, the world’s economy wasn’t fantastic, and things are just starting to get a little hinky and I had to really do some self-reflection and rethink about what my purpose was. And one of my favorite things to do, what really gets me up in the morning to go to work, is developing people. I really like to develop young leaders and give them the opportunities to stretch and grow and coach them through those experiences. That’s what really gets me going.”
To learn more about Aramark’s Hospitality Management line of business, Amanda’s leadership style, or what it takes to work in a national park, check out the Q&A or audio content in the post!
— Amanda Lee, General Manager
Hear more from our conversation with Amanda in the Q&A section below.
Have you felt supported as you've changed locations while working with Aramark?
There's a great support structure there to get you from point A to point B, and the company makes it really easy. Most of the people that you interact with and the staff and managers are generally really welcoming, the community is there. So getting used to it, or how challenging it can be, hasn't been too difficult for me. To pay it forward, when I know people are transferring to the park, who may not be familiar, I like to be that welcoming presence for them so that they have someone to connect with.
What makes working in Leisure unique?
As a young manager, when holidays came around, I always took Thanksgiving off because everybody else had kids so I would be the manager operating the hotel for a majority of the Christmas season. I didn't have a hard time with it because I was able to meet so many families and they became part of my family at Christmas time. It was just an expected thing that I would always be at the hotel on Christmas and I wasn't missing home or anything because I had these guests and I became part of their lives. As for my staff, we became part of each other's lives as well. We have big families that come year after year and you get to know them. You can't say this about most places.
Why have you stayed with Aramark throughout your career?
I've stuck around the company for so long because I feel at home, I feel safe, I feel valued. Those are all the things that people take into account when thinking about whether or not to stay at a job. Granted, do I think there have been days where I've had differences of opinions with my leaders? Yeah, for sure. But at the end of the day, I have always felt that they've wanted the best for me. They're really taking into into consideration the people that work for them, and trying to make the best possible decisions for both the business as well as the people who work for them.
September 29, 2021
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