Every month at PHCP, we anonymously vote for the team member we believe has gone above and beyond for the company. The person who receives the most votes is awarded the prestigious “Employee of the Month” title. For the month of April, we had not one, but TWO rock stars tie for this honor – Erica Codd and Donna James!

Erica is the Director of our Brand Marketing Team, pretty much the epitome of a cool, hard working mom, who loves a well-made Old Fashioned! Donna is a Senior Account Executive who works with some fun accounts like Great Wolf Lodge and Taco Mac - that is when she's not serenading her cat with an original song on the ukulele, of course. Erica and Donna are both integral parts of our Patrick Henry Team, and we’d love to show you why in the interview that follows:

Erica Codd: Pineapple Jalapeño Margarita – sweet yet spicy!

Donna James: Ah, this is a tough question! I had to take a BuzzFeed quiz for this one. My result was a Margarita – “Adventurous and sweet – a margarita is perfect for people who love to have a good time.” I would say this is pretty accurate, thanks BuzzFeed!

Erica Codd: My first job in the hospitality industry was when I was 16. I worked at Pappasito's Cantina in Sugar Land, Texas as a hostess. Some nights, I got to be the “guac girl” where I pushed around a wooden cart and made tableside guacamole. That’s where I got my secret recipe! I later became a to-go server and continued working there until I went off to college. I later attended Texas A&M University, in College Station, and worked at Chuy’s as a to-go server until I graduated and became an intern at PHCP!

Donna James: My very first job was in the hospitality industry at a local pizza shop in my neighborhood during high school! When I went to the University of Houston to study Nutrition, but quickly switched my path to study Hotel & Restaurant Management at the Conrad N. Hilton College, I worked different positions within multiple types of outlets like quick service, full-service restaurants and coffee shops (mostly). It wasn't until after graduation, when I went to a Hilton College Career Fair, that I learned about PHCP and the world of beverage marketing!

Erica Codd: The camaraderie! We truly are “one team, one dream”. Every project is a team effort with multiple people helping behind the scenes as a support system. Each person within our PHCP family brings their own talent, experiences and expertise to the table in order to help strengthen the team. We have so many resources to tap into, and there’s always a “happy to help” mentality.

Donna James: Definitely the teamwork and camaraderie! I feel like we can do anything we set our minds to!

Erica Codd: Laughing with my friends and family!

Donna James: I am absolutely the happiest when I am cooking, finding smart storage solutions for my tiny kitchen, or cuddling with my cat.

Erica Codd: One of my first big projects that comes to mind was an ideation presentation for Tullamore DEW. I remember pouring all of my energy into it for weeks – researching, brainstorming, working with the Creative Services team on spec art and templates, formatting, etc. It was so rewarding to see the project through from start to finish. I think it was a pivotal moment for me, especially looking back now on all the ideation projects I have worked on since then.

Donna James: My favorite project was getting to work on Relish’s beverage program. Since we primarily work with national chain accounts, it was a new and exciting challenge to team up with a local favorite restaurant! We collaborated directly with the restaurant owners to develop mouth-watering cocktails, design new menus, and conduct a hands-on training session with managers and bartenders. Within 6 months of implementing the new program, Relish’s beverage sales increased 50%! The most rewarding part of this project is dining at Relish after the project was completed (every couple of months or so), seeing their growth and success, and knowing that we were an integral part of it.

Erica Codd: People have always told me that I would make a good lawyer, in part due to my ability to argue and my debate skills. I had actually planned on going to law school until I was offered a full-time position at PHCP. Being fresh out of college, a steady paycheck at a beverage marketing agency sounded way more fun than studying for the LSAT! I have never regretted my decision 😊.

Donna James: I play acoustic guitar, ukulele, and piano – it’s a hobby that I partake in when mostly when I’m alone. I also have a few card tricks up my sleeve 😉.

Erica Codd: My mom. She has five children, nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, which in itself is impressive. Despite the hardships and heartbreaks she has lived through, she has continued to be a beacon of love and support. She will always put her family first; she is a great mother and Gigi!

Donna James: My parents and my husband (equally)! They are the hardest working people I know – they don’t give up in the face of adversity and challenges. They stay hopeful even through the toughest situation and I really admire that attitude! 

Erica Codd: Enjoying my baby snuggles on the couch.

Donna James: …sleeping in until 10am (or so).

Erica Codd: I would like to do a better job of living in the moment. Time passes too quickly, and I am especially realizing that now, seeing my first little one growing so fast. I want to soak it all in!

Donna James: Learn a new skill such as a new language or master an existing one e.g. become a better piano player!

Erica Codd: When I started out in this industry, I had no idea that I could find a long-term career in hospitality. There’s truly so much work and thought that goes into each aspect of a menu, cocktail, promotion – this is something that you never realize as a guest or even a server. Working at PHCP has opened my eyes to all this behind the scenes strategy and development, which has transformed my perception of “hospitality”. Of course, it’s still the friendly, warm welcome and service you get in a restaurant or give as an event or party host, but knowing what I do now, it’s so much more than that.

Donna James: I believe that "hospitality" is fluid to a specific situation. Hospitality means understanding different manners from different countries, ethics, and religion so that we can accommodate appropriately to other peoples’ personal beliefs. I’ve learned over the years that to be successful in the hospitality industry, we must have a sense of respect and understanding for different views, a capacity of adapting to a different culture, and the ability to interact in it.

Author: Bradie Bowen
Created: 2020/06/05
Updated: 2020/06/05
Category: Behind the Scenes

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