Leadership / 11.02.22
For Elizabeth Hess, Ticketing Was a Dream Job and Career Goal
While there has been no official survey of INTIX members on this topic, a quick review of all the profile stories we have done over the years suggests that an extraordinary number of people somehow fell into ticketing as a career. Indeed, for many, serendipity turned into a lifelong vocation. Elizabeth Hess may be a rare and notable exception.
“My very, very, very first job [as a teenager] was as a kiddie ride operator in Hersheypark, [a family theme park in Hershey, Pennsylvania],” she says.
The first step toward her dream career came when Elizabeth was transferred indoors to help out in the ticket office, a job which she also astutely turned into a high school co-op position.
“On my first day of work, I was like a little girl, and I said, ‘Oh my God, I am going to be the box office manager [here] someday. This is fantastic!’ … I have a distinct memory of thinking, ‘I am going to do this someday, for sure.’”
“It was like magic,” she says of her first three years in the ticket office. “It was the hottest time, I think, to work in live entertainment. I still look back on it and think … everything we touched was magic and sold out. One of my first experiences as a fan was that we had sold all these tickets, then I went to David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, and I looked back and saw that all the seats were filled. This was back in the time when the vast majority of the tickets were sold by people calling the box office or standing in line.”
“We put everybody [in those seats]. I could admire our work, and it was really moving. I felt like, ‘Oh my God, we did this,’ and we did that over and over and over and over again. I really felt accepted. I felt like I really belonged. Like I had a community and it felt electric. I thought, this is so important, this is so great. I loved it so much. It felt like home.”
Elizabeth’s first job in the ticket office put her on a career path in an industry she loves. Barely out of her teens, she was appointed Box Office Supervisor for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. She was with the company for six years in various positions.
“I was really young to be holding that level of responsibility,” she says recollecting her success with that organization. Elizabeth subsequently told us about her next role in client services at Ticketmaster, including the time when she “printed will call tickets and put them on top of my car and drove away.”
Of course, we had to know what happened.
“It was a sh*t show. I had to go reprint the tickets and run [back] out to get the tickets to an off-site box office where I was working. It is my most memorable career moment and I do like to tell the story [especially] if a younger person makes a big mistake, then I can say, ‘Well, let me help you feel better…’”
As she continued advancing her ticketing career, working for a short time with Ticketmaster and then for seven years as Ticketing Services Director for Keswick Theatre, Elizabeth says she was constantly inspired, both by her leaders and colleagues. That feeling remains with her to this day in her role as Associate Vice President of Marketing for the Kimmel Cultural Campus, where Elizabeth works closely with Matt Cooper and colleagues at Ticket Philadelphia, a team she describes as “truly world class.”
Dedicated marketing team working the 6ABC Thanksgiving Day parade with Philly Mascots.
“I [continue] to feel inspired by my co-workers who are fearless and creative,” she says. “I think they look at the history and the big things that we have done and then it fuels them looking forward when we come up with another big promotion. There is probably always that little twinge of fear [of] what if we do this and no one comes? [What if] we make all of this effort and we are in the spotlight, and it does not work out? [It helps when we are] looking back, locking arms and [remembering] we have done this before. We set goals for ourselves. We are the A-Team, [we] rally around each other and [know] we can reach new heights.”
The Kimmel Cultural Campus marketing team in 2018.
She adds, “I have so many wonderful colleagues, people that inspire me all the time. We support each other's ideas, and we support each other’s creativity. When you work with somebody who is willing to go down a rabbit hole with you, you start to really solve problems and create better guest experiences.”
When it comes to leaders, Elizabeth says she has been lucky to have worked with some really exceptional ones over the years.
“I think each of the people who I have in mind saw something in me, and they set me up to succeed,” she says. “They complemented my strengths, helped build me up, and helped me to work through my weaknesses.”
One of the people Elizabeth admires most is Jen Corsilli, Director of Marketing and Programming at Live Nation. “Jen is really true to herself, and she is very approachable. She is just an all-around decent person. She looks out for the underdog. She looks out for up-and-coming talent, and she has integrity.”
Jen Corsilli and Elizabeth working security for a Kevin and Joe Jonas concert at the Keswick Theatre when there was a need for female security guards to fend off the diehard fans.
When it comes to mentors, Elizabeth has had three who really stand out. “Each of them was my manager and I would say I still have relationships with all of them, but right now [my mentor] is Crystal Brewe,” the executive who leads marketing and communications at the Kimmel Cultural Campus and now the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Elizabeth continues, “Crystal and I have worked together for seven years. She helps me focus, and she sets me up to succeed. She gives me things that I can work on and excel [at], and then she supports me and challenges me in areas that are development areas for me. She has taught me so much. I would say in common with the other mentors I have had, they have been women, so each of them has shown me how to be a strong leader in [marketing, which is] a male-dominated industry.”
Crystal Brewe, Leslie Patterson-Tyler and Elizabeth (also known as the three musketeers) at the Kimmel Cultural Campus Gala.
In 2008, Elizabeth became Sales and Marketing Manager at AEG Live — a position that she did kind of fall into.
“I was the Ticketing Services Director at the Keswick Theatre, and when AEG Live bought the Keswick from a receiver that is when I transitioned to marketing,” she says. “I was on maternity leave and when I came back, I was a marketing manager.”
She continues, “My memory of it is a little fuzzy, but I am pretty sure they just told me, ‘You are a marketing manager now.’ I think it was the position they needed … I do not really know why, actually, but I remember thinking, ‘OK, I am very happy to have a job.’
Elizabeth’s next move would see her join the Kimmel Cultural Campus, where she has quickly risen through the ranks to her current position. She is quick to point out that she is still heavily involved with ticketing.
“At both Keswick at now at Kimmel, marketing and ticketing are on the same team, which I do not think is that common,” she explains. “[Although I am] in marketing now, I work with the ticketing team all day long. We are on the same team. It is all the same.”
That link with ticketing keeps Elizabeth heavily involved in INTIX.
“I have been lucky to work for organizations that value INTIX membership,” she says. “Through the pandemic, I have seen such an increase in the community aspect. It has always been strong in that way, but it is just undeniable the impact that INTIX had during the pandemic and the shutdown. I think it really put into focus the value [of being a member]. I know I feel more engaged since the pandemic, even [more than] when I was younger in my career and really needed it as more of an informational resource.”
Like others, she uses INTIX to network but has also developed friendships.
“I love the community and the connection,” she adds. “I have made lifelong friends. I have been through many conferences, not continually or not all of them, [and there are] people I know I can call, and they will answer the phone. INTIX helps me stay up to speed with everything in live entertainment.”
Elizabeth and Ashley Ryan at INTIX 2020 in Texas.
Elizabeth also encourages others in her circle to join and participate in INTIX.
“I think it really helps to develop our employees who are not from the industry. Years ago, we used to hire from within or hire people who were on that arts track. It seems like now, especially in the company I am in, it is growing all the time and you have to hire outside the industry. I think INTIX really helps fast-track people.”
Elizabeth in hot pink reveling in the opening of Balcony Bar at the Kimmel Center with view of City Hall in the background.
In her spare time, Elizabeth says she likes to hang out with her friends and family. “I like strong and independent people who follow through in my friendships,” she says. “I go to concerts, shows and sports any time I possibly can. I go to the gym. I do boxing, weightlifting and spinning. Both of my daughters play softball, so I have a lot of that in my life [too].”
She describes her two teenage daughters, Carly (15) and Peyton (14), as the greatest loves of her life.
“I like the idea of focusing on raising my kids to be kind and compassionate, loving people who have a positive impact on other people,” she says. “They are only 15 months apart. Aren’t I insane? They are pretty good, actually. They do not fight as much as my sister and I did.”
She continues, “If I had it all to do over again, I would be much kinder to myself as a young mother. And I wish I was not so concerned with doing everything perfectly. I wish I had relaxed and enjoyed my kids even more. I am not saying I did not enjoy my kids. In some ways, it was feeling like eyes were on me, that I had these expectations to live up to as a working mom … should you nurse and all the things that, some of it I put on myself. I felt a lot of pressure to get everything right 100% of the time.”
Elizabeth lives in what she describes as a “comfortable, modest home,” with her only wish being that it was closer to the water. It is no surprise then that she says Hawaii is the one place she would most like to visit.
“It feels really out of reach for me, I think, at this point in my career. I have not really felt like I could take two-plus weeks off. I understand it is very expensive, but it is just a place I would love to go. It seems very magical.”
For now, Elizabeth says she is content to stay home and putter around in her kitchen.
“I love to watch the Food Network, Guy Fieri and Triple D (‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’), and try to replicate recipes by Googling,” she says. “I am all over the place, but I have been feeling a little bit uninspired lately [in the kitchen]. I think it is because over the summertime it felt like some freedom from the dangers of COVID, so, I have been going out to dinner more and going out and doing things more than I was before … I would like to get back into [doing more in the kitchen]. I love cooking seafood. I have a couple of specialties: White bean chicken chili, Italian wedding soup, and anything seafood. I love seafood. And red wine!”
For some, cooking might be talent enough, but Elizabeth says it would really be cool to be able to sing, perhaps like her favorite artist, Taylor Swift. Elizabeth especially likes the 10-minute version of Taylor’s song “All Too Well.”
“I really love Taylor Swift. I have taken my kids to see all of the concerts that I could possibly see. I have been standing there with little toddlers on my hip, like it was pretty much unreasonable to bring them to this, but I did it. I have a lot of great memories.”
Elizabeth becomes a bit more reflective when she reveals that “being able to always stay positive [would be a great talent to have], even when there are negative forces, people dragging you into the muck and difficult circumstances. The times I have been able to really stay positive helped. I have noticed some people are so effervescent and always so positive. I would like to have that superpower.”
Matias Tornopolsky, Crystal Brewe, Ashley Ryan, Elizabeth and Ryan Fleur with view of the Kimmel Center in the background.
One of the times when Elizabeth found her inner superpowers was during the annual Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), which is curated by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
“I never realized [the challenges of] working on an arts festival, and honestly, that I survived it. It was unreal how hard it was, the amount of work that went into it and you do not always succeed … We learned a lot, but it was daunting.”
As part of PIFA in 2018, the Kimmel Center was to host Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music, an immersive event that Elizabeth had never before experienced. So, before it came to Philadelphia, she went to the west coast to experience it for herself.
“In San Francisco, it was a 24-hour concert which they were presenting in four different excerpts,” she says. “We were doing it as part of PIFA in two 12-hour concerts. I experienced the first excerpt. I was like, this is wild. I am here because I need to know what this is so I can market this event.”
Elizabeth continues, “When it came to the part that I could sit as an audience member [at PIFA], really experience it and take a deep breath, [thinking about] all the tickets that have been sold, the pressure was off of me. I was able to really experience it, and it just completely took my breath away. I cannot really explain how immersive it was. I think that is a word that's thrown around a lot now. Like immersive means you project something on a wall and I am supposed to feel part of it, but this was like I was part of the show. They had the Dandy Minions, which are probably a hundred people who are part of the show, and it really helped me think about things in a completely different way. I was thinking through topics that I have never personally thought through, but then I'm going, ‘Wait, how would I feel if I was that person experiencing that thing?’ Also leaving that experience, I kept thinking about little things after the fact for a really long time … one piece [would be] on my mind … I have never [experienced] anything quite like that before.”
Elizabeth describes that experience as her greatest achievement, but it is not her only one.
“The other achievement I am proud of is to have come from humble beginnings,” she says.
“I created a life for myself that I love. And I love doing what I do for my job. [I believe] I am contributing to the greater good, making my community better and bringing people together. I think we have the best product in the world.”
Indeed, there is likely not a single person working in live entertainment who would disagree.
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