Up Close: Profile of the Senior Complex Manager of Safety & Security Operations
Sometimes you just feel called to a certain profession. Danielle Kauffman had just that feeling. Her passion and desire to help others took her down the path of criminal justice. While she was attending graduate school in 2012 she worked a part-time job at Hersheypark. Fast forward to 2018 and she is now the Senior Complex Manager of Safety & Security Operations where she is continuously looking for ways to help create a safe and enjoyable experience for our guests.
Danielle is a true testament that if you work hard and do what you’re passionate about it doesn’t feel like a job. In between working events we were able to grab a few moments of her time. She shared with us how she got to where she is today, what she’s most proud of, why she chose Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) and more.
Thinking about a career in criminal justice and want to be a part of Danielle’s team? She’s looking for eager individuals to join her team. Join us at the Hersheypark and Giant Center Job Fair on Thursday, September 6 from 4-7 p.m. where you can apply, interview and be hired on the spot!
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) All throughout high school I had my mind set on a career in law enforcement, as I just had that overwhelming desire to help people. After my college search, I decided to attend Mansfield University, where I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration as well as a minor in Political Science.
While attending Mansfield University, I realized I truly enjoyed learning and as it came closer to graduation I decided that I wanted to attend graduate school. Immediately after my graduation, I moved down to the Harrisburg area and began attending Penn State Harrisburg. While attending Penn State, I began working at Hersheypark as a part-time Security Officer in 2011. In 2012, I graduated from Penn State Harrisburg with my Master’s degree in Criminal Justice all the while continuing to work at Hersheypark as a Security Officer. I worked my way up through the ranks as a part-time Security Assistant Supervisor and then to a part-time Security Supervisor and finally to my current position of Senior Complex Manager of Safety & Security Operations.
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) After graduate school, I had some other career opportunities arise that just did not feel like the right fit for me at the time. I also had realized that for me, my original goal for a career in law enforcement was not the only career path out there where I could still achieve my desire to help people. While finally out of school, I knew that I needed to find a full-time position. I eventually discovered an opening for a full-time Security Officer position at Hershey Lodge, which I was offered and then accepted. I truly enjoyed my time with the Hershey Lodge Security team, as I was able to make new friends, as well as learn a different aspect of Security within HE&R.
While working at the Lodge, I was informed of a full-time Security Operations Supervisor position opening up at the Hershey Entertainment Complex side of the company. Knowing that I had really enjoyed my experience working part-time for Hershey Entertainment, I felt it was in my best interest to pursue that opportunity. Thankfully the decision was made to offer me the position and thus, back to Hersheypark I went.
I began my career at Hershey Entertainment as a Security Operations Supervisor, where my team and I were responsible for the planning and overall execution of event and security plans for the Entertainment Complex. At that time, I also oversaw our Security Communications Center operations and staff. At the beginning of 2017, I was promoted to the Senior Complex Manager of Safety & Security Operations. In my current position, I am responsible for providing direction and managing the implementation of event security and traffic plans relative to providing a safe and secure environment for events hosted at the Entertainment Complex. My areas of direct responsibility include developing event plans and procedures based on event security vulnerability assessments and institutional knowledge, creating and executing traffic and parking lot operation plans, oversight of department support operations to include Patrol Operations, Dispatch Operations, Tram and Paid Parking Operations and Lost and Found.
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) I chose to start working for Hershey part-time, mostly because it seemed like a fun place to work, but also because I was looking for a job where I could have a flexible schedule with me attending graduate school at the time. I do have to say the job did not disappoint. I was able to get great experience working alongside some great people that eventually became some of my best friends. It was ultimately my many positive experiences as a part-time Security Officer with Hershey Entertainment that was behind my decision to accept the full-time Security Operations Supervisor position several years later.
"I think my best piece of advice is to remember that hard work does not go unnoticed...Knowing that you have the ability to affect someone’s life for the positive is probably what drives me the most in my career."
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) I would have to say that I have two accomplishments, both personally and professionally, that really stand out to me. The first would have to be winning the Entertainment Complex’s Leader of the Quarter award in 2015. My nomination for the award was based off my work with a rather large investigation our Department was working on at the time. While I am not one that looks for personal accolades, it was nice to have my hard work recognized not only by my peers but by the company itself.
My second biggest accomplishment would have to be achieving my Certified Protection Officer (CPO) designation. The CPO designation is a national certification offered by the International Foundation for Protection Officers. In earning the CPO designation, candidates must complete an in-depth self-study program, become familiar with a multitude of security principles and doctrines, covering more than 18 subjects and then pass a proctored final exam. This accomplishment was especially important to me because I was able to achieve a higher level of knowledge and gain a better understanding of asset protection principles in the interest of better serving our guests and employees.
Q) What's your favorite ride at Hersheypark?
A) Growing up, my family and I would always take vacations to different amusement parks during the summer. We all loved to ride roller coasters and would try to ride as many different ones that we could. I would have to say that my favorite ride, not just here at Hersheypark would have to be the Great Bear.
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of my job is helping people, as I do not think I could ever have a career where I could not do that. Whether it be responding to a medical call or just simply helping a guest at Hersheypark with directions, it is all very rewarding in my mind. Knowing that you have the ability to help make someone’s day even just a little bit better is definitely the most rewarding feeling.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career in Safety & Security?
A) I think my best piece of advice is to remember that hard work does not go unnoticed. Take the time to invest yourself in what interests you and find the ways to gain as much experience with that as possible. A career in Safety & Security can be very challenging at times, but it is always important to remember that it is also a very rewarding career. Knowing that you have the ability to affect someone’s life for the positive is probably what drives me the most in my career.
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) I think one of the best perks of my job are all the people I get to meet. Whether it be the many guests from all over the world coming to Hersheypark or to all my friends I have made while working at HE&R over the years. The experiences this place creates are definitely ones that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) One of the most interesting aspects of a day in the life of the Security Department is that no two days are ever quite the same. Just when you think you can get into a routine or have a set plan for the day, there is always that possibility of an event happening that can throw your plan out the window. When I am not assigned a specific duty shift of working one of our events my time is spent in my office researching and planning out our upcoming events; from a Security operations aspect this happens months in advance. This includes everything from Security staffing to specific event Security plans. Thankfully I work with a great team all throughout the company, which allows us to have great communication and understanding when it comes to our event planning discussions.
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) I am a huge sports fan. I grew up playing soccer and I have always loved to watch & play sports. I love the aspect of the team mentality and the competitiveness that comes with sports. As for my favorite teams, my heart lies in Pittsburgh – Steelers, Penguins, Pirates. Outside of that, it is Penn State all the way!