I'm always impressed by the grandeur of the DCU Center, so walking into the GM's corner office – flooded with light and the view of the bustling Worcester streets – set the perfect stage for the illuminating interview in front of me.
There isn't an easier person to talk to than Sandy Dunn, General Manager of Worcester's DCU Center. Her sincerity and quick laugh are complemented by a wealth of anecdotes and fun stories. Her approachability is reflected in one of the friendliest staffs in the industry as evidenced by the repeat business at the DCU Center – which significantly outpaces industry standards. In fact, clients rave about the attention and service they receive. Sandy operates at a fast pace, making rapid-fire decisions on a daily basis. Her career in the public facility industry has flourished for decades because she thrives with change and embraces new challenges each day.
Industry-wide, the DCU Center is known as a "complex" because it hosts both arena events and conventions. Sandy explained that these are two very different types of businesses. Arena events move quickly and require a fast-paced, responsive staff. By contrast, conventions are planned 12 to 24 months in advance, and require the staff to plan far in advance. The DCU Center GM has to be able to operate in either world. Sandy is that person. Her ability to make rapid-fire decisions is equally complemented by her ability to plan for the long-term.
Sandy's approachability is not limited to casual conversation. She encourages back and forth discussion in decision making. She prides herself on her open-mindedness and likes when people push back and challenge her ideas. “I don’t have any problem changing my decisions," says Sandy, "as long as it is based on us recognizing what we need to do to move forward successfully.” Her staff is empowered when they feel safe to voice opposing views. It allows them to be part of the decision process as well as fully understand the final decision.
I noted the dynamic connection between a convention center and the community that surrounds it. No one knows this better than Sandy, who has made it her purpose to invest in and become a part of the fabric of the community. Again, I realized the dual requirement for Sandy to quickly make smart decisions in the pressure-packed days and hours leading up to events while making wise strategic decisions that affect the long-term perspective of the community.
When I asked Sandy what brand she would be, she chose Disney. Interestingly, Disney registers with Sandy more for their ability to adapt and change over time than even for their approachability, friendliness, and ability to entertain. The brand fits her perfectly.
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