Leadership / 01.05.23
Holowaty: Keeping Her Pledge of Positive as Climate Pledge Arena VP
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
INTIX 2023 Conference Chair Jacque Holowaty not only has a cool job, she has a cool sounding job. She is Vice President of Employee & Guest Experience at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and many, many memorable concerts. If you are a people person, and Holowaty is, it doesn’t get much better.
“In the easiest terms, my job is simply to make sure that everyone in the organization has the right tools and support to ensure we are providing the best environment possible for our employees, which in turn will create the best experience for our guests,” she says. “I sit in a space that allows me to look at things from a holistic viewpoint versus focusing on one department, which helps us as an organization to connect areas together that others may not be able to see, making the experience for our employees and guests streamlined throughout every area.”
Even her staff’s motto is cool. “Employees First — Guests Forever!” “By us investing in the experience of our employees,” Holowaty says, “it helps us to enhance the service of our guests and, ultimately, be one of the best in the business when it comes to service and hospitality in the industry."
Holowaty loves that each day she comes to work, there are many different challenges operationally, strategically and even dealing with the various personalities in and out of the office. Does she have a secret to her success? Her answer was quick but well thought-out: “Remaining humble. Everyone works so hard to put on amazing events for our guests. When things do not go right, or we get complaints, the easy reaction is to discount the guests’ narrative to protect the feeling that everything we did was ‘right.’ The only way for us to improve is to listen to feedback and to understand that we are not doing these events for us, we are doing them for our guests. Without the guests, what are we here for?”
She continues, “It is too easy to get caught up defending decisions made to try and protect our own egos. To truly become a place that cares about our employees and our guests, we have to put the egos aside and really listen and learn from what we are hearing. That might mean we have to admit to ourselves that we could have done better. What makes it challenging is that it isn’t just my ego that has to get put aside, it is the hundreds of other employees’ egos as well if we have any chance of progressing forward. That is a daily struggle.”
It’s probably hard to stay humble when people outside of the ticketing and live events space find out what Holowaty does for a living. When they do, she says some of the most common questions she gets are: “Do you get to see all the shows?” and “Do you get to meet the artists?” and, of course, “Can I get free tickets?”
“Jokes aside, we think our industry is huge,” she says. “But we forget how truly tiny we are in the grand scheme of the world and that most people have absolutely no idea what goes into putting on an event. That mystery is the beauty that we all share together. We are creating our own version of magic for our guests. And if they really did ‘pull back the curtain,’ and expose the realities, the beauty of what we create would be ruined for them. I love to play into the narrative of how glamorous the industry is. If you work in it, the definition of ‘glamourous’ may change a bit! [laughing]”
Still, ticketing is indeed a field she recommends young people, especially young women, pursue. It’s certainly been rewarding for her. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
She says, “I think the most important thing women, or really anyone trying to find their place in their career, can do is be patient. There is a saying I heard often early in my career that has stuck with me, and it is, ‘Be where your feet are.’ For me, that means to be present in the moment, soak up what is around you, and find the joy in your current role. Be great at what you are currently doing … so great at it that people want to be around you and learn from you.”
It’s also important to have clear eyes and know that there is difference between, say, “truth” and social or “Facebook or Instagram truth.” She says, “It seems that many people now are never satisfied, always wanting what’s next or comparing ourselves to others, inside or outside of the industry, and foolishly believing that social media tells a truthful narrative of happiness and success. Too often we define success as promotions, money or even title. But when you have a chance to look back on any part of your career, it is not usually the promotions that define you as successful. It is the impact you have made on others and how you have carried yourself along the way, even in the challenging times.”
Live events have certainly come through some challenging times these past few years, as has Holowaty. We have the great benefit of interviewing her here right at the start of 2023. So, when Holowaty thinks about the year ahead, is she generally optimistic, pessimistic or a mix of both, and why?
Her reply: “I live my life through a lens of positivity and that has worked well for me thus far. I think we are going to continue to see more opportunities for our industry to grow and evolve and more people working together than ever before. 2023 is going to be the first full year without the dark cloud of the pandemic looming over us and, as you may know, after a storm comes the rainbow. That is what 2023 feels like to me … our rainbow year! This is the year that we get to see how we have grown as a society, and we can work to become more compassionate toward each other, collaborate more and understand that it wasn’t the companies paying us — or not paying us — that got us through the pandemic. It was this tribe of amazing humans that held us up when we were down. We get to kick off the year celebrating that together, in person, for INTIX 2023 in Seattle, and I think the year will only go up from there!”
Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing