Welcome to 4xi's latest team member, Jennifer Durning, she is available to offer support on a consulting basis for individual projects and ongoing expertise. Jennifer’s focus is in areas of hospitality operations, conference services management, project management, and customer experience.
Introducing Jennifer Durning
Jennifer has a proven record of successfully managing projects in the hospitality industry. She is a solutions-focused manager who can think on her feet and is adept at creating beneficial working relationships with all levels of the client workforce while building training, and inspiring teams who excel at driving client and guest satisfaction.
Jennifer was Vice President, Business & Operations, for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Here, she was responsible for operational oversight and overall quality of the conference centers, catering, and concierge services, including client centers, dining services, cafés, micro-markets, and pantries. Jennifer managed and developed vendors, and operations teams, including employee services programs, food service, and conference centers. She established conference meeting planning procedures and customer service expectations, aligning the staff responsible for conference planning services throughout the company’s managed conference space.
Additionally, she’s leveraged the company’s property management system data to optimize the utilization of conference centers and amenity locations while enhancing the workplace and employee experience, simultaneously reducing external expenses for the firm.
Other prior experience includes Meeting & Event Manager and Hotel/Front Office Operations at W New York Hotel in New York City, Sheraton Parsippany, NJ, and the Providence, RI, Marriott, where the client roster included financial institutions, socials, non-profit and large event operations.
Jennifer received her Master of Project Management from Keller School of Management, DeVry University in 2019. She earned a B.S. in hospitality sales and meeting management and an A.S. in hotel/restaurant management from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island. Jennifer is a Certified Meeting Professional through the Convention Industry Council and a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) working toward her PMP certification.
Welcome on board Jennifer, and here's to getting Up Close & Personal.
Q1: Where do you live?
JD: Dallas, Texas
Q2: What was your journey to 4xi?
JD: I began my career in the hotel industry, checking guests in at the front desk while attending Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. If you’ve worked in hotels, you understand there’s never a dull moment- and that’s what hooked me. I loved the guest contact, problem-solving, and the people I worked with; it gave me the opportunity to use my degree in a tangible way.
I had the opportunity to work in many departments throughout several hotel brands, and as grew as a manager, I strengthened my foundation and the skills I use today: attention to detail, listening communication and language skills, and multitasking.
"The hotel industry rounded out my discipline and eventually led me to work at JPMorgan Chase & Co, in Midtown, Manhattan, and the Southwest, where I had the opportunity to manage and expand a conference services team and amenities programs."
Q3: What does Operational Leadership mean to you and how can you help 4xi clients make a difference?
JD: I remember my first day at JP Morgan, I walked onto the elevator, pressed the floor button, looked up, and greeted everyone in the elevator. As a former hotel employee, it came so naturally to engage with people around me. Thankfully I caught myself from the embarrassment, but I reflect on that day and continue to ask the question - why can’t we greet corporate employees like we would hotel guests? We are all guests in the workplace. There’s a linear connection between hospitality and engaging customers and employees to feel welcomed.
Fast forward to today, and I am reading, Think Again, by Adam Grant. I find his book relevant to where we are; there’s a need to unlearn, let go of "comfortable" and have the courage to embrace discomfort, and challenge the thought process. I like the idea that we can rethink and unlearn the past few years and perhaps move forward differently.
"I believe my experience, as well as the collective of 4xi, can help companies move forward, rethink, and combine operational leadership, workplace hospitality, customer experience, and employee engagement."
Q4: What role do you think creating operational efficiencies plays in the approach to winning and retaining better business?
JD: Throughout my career, I quickly recognized great service is not only about providing a service but more importantly taking care of the employees who provide that service daily; it is about building a great team and making employee satisfaction a priority. I’ve worked for great brands, like W Hotels, one of the first lifestyle brands, and here, teams were motivated, engaged, and recognized by employee activities, surveys, and feedback.
When you prioritize employee satisfaction, you will see the direct correlation between guest feedback and surveys. This type of leadership, both customer and employee engagement, is the key to retaining better business.
"That said, contracting for the lowest-priced option in all categories is a big mistake, regardless of your market position or a client's current "climate" - it's just simply never a good idea and always results in a race to the bottom when it comes to customer and guest experience."
Q5: What are the most interesting innovations you see in the market today?
JD: When I first started working in conference services, we used a manual bookkeeping system for all the events and space confirmed. Can you believe it - what an antiquated way to manage space! Now, conference and workplaces teams can integrate PMS systems to manage space utilization, sensor technology for real-time people counting, even streamline visitor experiences, all while providing metrics to stakeholders. It is an exciting time, and thankfully a big leap from manual bookkeeping.
Q6: If you were hosting a dinner party of 10, who would you invite?
JD: I love to cook AND entertain! I need more than 30 ingredients in a recipe to be interested in making it. My pantry is filled with spices, teas, coffee, and ingredients I can’t pronounce – some I’ve picked up throughout my travels. My love for food is rooted in the memories of my Italian Grandmother Octavia, she always had a pot of water boiling ready for pasta! I’d invite my large New Jersey family and new friends and family here in Texas to enjoy a delicious Sunday dinner like we always did at Grandma's house growing up.
Q7: What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
JD: I’ve traveled to 14 countries; 5 continents and I am working toward seeing every state in the U.S. There’s so much to see and do, particularly here in the U.S. But, my favorite international adventure, so far, was traveling across Morocco with my good friend and the 2 guides we hired. We crossed the Sahara Desert on a camel, trekking out into the sand to stay overnight in a tent and see the sunset and sunrise – a picture-perfect adventure.
Q8: If you could change one thing, anything, what would it be?
JD: I’d like for the summers to be warm and long on the shore and to be able to see my family in New Jersey at a moment’s notice. Over the past few years, I’ve learned to hold on tight to family and family and friends.
Q9: What is your favorite food or cuisine?
JD: When it comes to food, I eat mostly plant-based, adding eggs, seafood and cheese a few times a month. I believe you are what you eat – wellness, nutrition, and a holistic approach to managing your health, along with functional movements and yoga.
I like the research by Dan Buettner, and The Blue Zones, where he’s identified five locations around the world where people not only live the longest but are happy and active- able body people with little alignments. His work has been integrated with communities and there’s been a positive impact on how people live- imagine if we introduced his ideas into the workplace.
Thanks, Jennifer, so nice to get to know you, and welcome to the 4xi family!
4xi: Our strength is in the power of our collective
4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side creating an impact in the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.
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