The Senior Manager of Ticketing and Financial Operations for the Atlanta Braves is proud to be a minority woman succeeding in a male-dominated industry. Here, Jessica reflects on the importance of friends, a talent she’d love to have, the thing she loves most about her job, and how INTIX is helping her network and learn.
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Who do you admire most and why?
My dad. This is cliché to say because I’m a child of immigrants, but my parents came to this country without much of anything. My dad’s engineering degree from Korea didn’t translate into a degree here, so he worked at a Mitsubishi plant in Georgia and is now a very successful small business owner. He’s the hardest working person I know, and I’m very glad that I got my work ethic from him.
What is the quality you like most in a person?
Someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously but then knows when to be serious.
What is the quality you like most in a colleague?
Morality and a willingness to always keep learning.
What qualities are important to you in a leader?
Similar to what I value in a colleague, I really appreciate it when my superiors don’t act like they know everything and realize there is always room for growth and knowledge.
What do you value most in your friends?
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My friends and family. I’m single and I don’t have any kids or pets, so these are the people I cherish the most in my life. My best friends to this day are people I’ve been friends with since high school. Our friendships have survived different colleges and different cities. Sometimes I think my friends know me better than my family does.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Dancing. My not-so-guilty pleasure — because I have no shame in admitting it — is “Dancing with the Stars.” A friend and I get together every Monday to watch it. We’ve gone to the live tour two years in a row, too. The things they can do are absolutely insane!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
At this point in my life, my career. I’ve been able to overcome the fact that I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry. I’ve also been able to do that successfully as a minority woman.
Who are your favorite writers?
I don’t have one. I’ve been really into autobiographies and audiobooks recently. I just finished listening to Trevor Noah’s audiobook “Born a Crime,” and it was just amazing.
What's the best live event you've ever seen and why?
Elton John. I was working at the arena in Pittsburgh at the time. I don’t know if it was a combination of being exhausted or because it was Elton John, but it was the best time I’ve ever had working a show.
What is your favorite venue and why?
I’m going to have to go sports on this one and say PNC Park, where the Pittsburgh Pirates play. It’s the most beautiful ballpark I’ve ever seen, and the views from every seat are amazing.
What is your favorite team of all time and why?
The Atlanta Braves. I was born and raised in Atlanta and grew up here in the ’90s during the 14-straight division titles stretch. I remember making my dad get me the 1995 World Series commemorative VHS. I still have it and watch it when I can find a VHS player.
What is your favorite place to visit or place you’d love to visit and why?
Spain. It’s the only country I’ve been to in Europe but I’ve always wanted to go back.
By the time this comes out, I might already be in Korea or have just gotten back, but I’m going to South Korea for the first time in 18 years. It’ll be my first trip there as an adult. I’m really excited to learn about the country that my parents are from. I’m also going to a baseball game while I’m there, which is a bucket list item for me. I’ll be meeting with some of the front office, so I’ll get to ask them about the ticketing world in Korea.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
Stop worrying and live. I was always such a cautious kid and suffered from anxiety as a teenager, so I’d just tell myself to stop worrying so much.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I work out a lot. I have been really obsessed with Orange Theory for the past two-and-a-half years. I’m also a huge “Game of Thrones” fan, so I’m really glad it’s back.
If you were granted three wishes today, what would they be?
A World Series ring would be amazing. I’d love the chance to have dinner with Oprah, Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres together at the same time. As well, enough money to support my family and live comfortably.
Why are you a member of INTIX?
I started my ticketing career in the arena world, so I’ve always heard of and been interested in INTIX. Once I started working for the Atlanta Braves and working for my boss Anthony Esposito, I became a member and got the opportunity to attend the conference.
What do you get from INTIX?
An amazing community of like-minded people who are not afraid to share their knowledge and things they’ve learned along the way. I really like that there is no trade secret mentality.
How do you use INTIX?
To build relationships and learn from my peers. I’ve only been in the ticketing industry for nine years and in a management role for three. There is so much left for me to learn from those who have been around longer, even from those who haven’t been around as long as I have and know things that I don’t.
What does INTIX give you that is different from everything else you are doing?
Most of the other organizations I’m involved in are on a regional or league level. I’m on the board of our regional ticketing association, but INTIX itself gives me the opportunity to look at things not only from a national level but also from an international level.
Do you look to INTIX to learn about trends or develop relationships?
Both. The sports world is a bit different than the rest of the ticketing world, but the practices we implement aren’t necessarily unique to sports and can be implemented across all areas of ticketing and vice versa. For us specifically, we are a multi-use venue. We do everything not only from a sports standpoint, but we have standalone concerts, football games and other events.
Who is your mentor?
Jason Varnish. He gave me my first experience in the ticketing world. Technically, I wasn’t his intern, but my desk was outside his office because there wasn’t room for me with the team I was working with at the time. This was over at the Consol Energy Center, which is now PPG Paints Arena. When my workload was light, I was always asking Jason if there was anything I could help out with or learn from him. Out of everyone I worked with in Pittsburgh, he’s the only one I’m still in contact with regularly. He’s one of the first phone calls I make if I’m struggling with work, have a new job opportunity or exciting news. I got to catch up with him in person at the 2019 INTIX conference for the first time in eight years!
Who or what inspires you?
My parents. I talked about my dad earlier, but my mom inspires me just the same. She was a working mom with two kids by the age of 26. I have no idea how she did it because I’m about to turn 31 and can’t even begin to fathom how I would be juggling my life with two kids. This also puts me in awe of Anthony. I have no idea how he does it with four kids. He manages to spend great quality time with them despite our schedule and all of his responsibilities here.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that ticketing is not the same thing every day. There’s always something different to learn and do. I also love being part of creating memories, even if it’s just a tiny part. I could be having a terrible day, but when I walk into the concourse and see people who are super excited to be here, it’s worth it.
Recently, I was hanging around the ticket office windows before a game and there was a dad who had brought his son from North Carolina. It was his son’s first Braves game. The kid was bouncing up and down with a huge grin on his face. The moment his dad was handed the tickets, it turned into full-on jumping and hugging his dad with excitement. It was awesome to see.
What do you love most about our industry?
Currently, in addition to my work with the Braves, I’m serving a two-year term on the board of the Georgia Professional Ticketing Association. At the end of the day, we all work in ticketing. It doesn’t matter if you come from the arts or sports world, there’s more crossover in demographic than you might think. Just because some things that work in the arts world don’t work in sports doesn’t mean that everything doesn’t work. I like that there’s an understanding that knowledge sharing makes everyone better.
What is your most memorable career moment?
A few months ago, I got a call that my name was tapped for another local venue. They had heard about the work I was doing here and knew I had a great relationship with our local Ticketmaster office. I did turn it down, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t give myself a nice pat on the shoulder. Anthony has his own way of letting me know that my hard work is not going unnoticed, but it’s definitely nice to know that it is also noticed outside of our organization.
What is your most memorable INTIX moment?
I haven’t been a member for long, and I’ve only been to one conference, but I wouldn’t say it’s one moment. It was the conference as a whole. I was able to meet people in Dallas who I’d been emailing and working with for years but had never met. I finally got to meet a lot of those people and put a face to their names.