"The most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to make a valuable impact and feed my ‘passion for people’ in a business imperative focus, such as Diversity & Inclusion."
Up Close Profile: Profile of the Manager of Diversity & Inclusion
In 2017, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) joined more than 250 CEO’s in committing to advance Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. This pledge created a new opportunity for seasoned HE&R employee, Jimetta Colston who has been immersed in the company and culture since 2009. Those who know Jimetta knows she is incredibly selfless and donates much of her free time to local charities and organizations. She is the Vice-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Professionals of Central PA (DIPCPA), Advisory for the Workforce Inclusion Committee (WIC), member of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Central PA; and that barely scratches the surface of her volunteer offerings. Through the years Jimetta has been the recipient of distinguished awards such as the 26th Annual YWCA Women of Excellence Award and the 2nd Annual National Black MBA Association Member of the Year Award.
To have Jimetta in this new role and bring her wealth of knowledge and passion for D&I is something HE&R is incredibly excited about. Luckily for us we were able to chat with her for a little bit about her career path so far, what the most rewarding aspect is of her job and so much more.
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) I am a proud graduate of Penn State University, "WE ARE...!", where I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing. I earned my MBA from Kutztown University of PA. Throughout my life I've strived to be a positive role model to my younger siblings, and I'm extremely honored to be the first in my entire family to graduate from college and receive a graduate degree. I must admit that prior to joining the Hershey family I did not have a career path; I held jobs. Those jobs at GIANT Foods Corporate and Nationwide Insurance helped to prepare me for the career journey I would later find at HE&R.
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) I've been a member of the HE&R team since 2009. I started my journey with the Hersheypark Group Sales department as the Consignment Sales Manager. Within two short years, I was promoted to Territory Sales Manager for the Washington, D.C. and Virginia regions, until taking over the local markets which included Dauphin, Lancaster and York Counties. What I enjoyed most about working in Sales for Hersheypark was it never felt as though I was 'selling.' Hersheypark actually sold itself and it was exciting and effortless to reach out and connect with clients and prospects to talk about all the many options available for creating a fun, memorable outing in "The Sweetest Place On Earth!"
Currently, I am just getting my feet wet in a new role as the Manager of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). This position is also very exciting, yet challenging as it allows me to work across the entire organization as an advocate and resource to ensure we are fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce where all employees feel valued and welcomed.
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) Hershey was and still is such a well-known, well-respected brand and company that brought back many fond memories from childhood for me. I admired the dedication to Milton Hershey School, the family-oriented culture and the possibility for future growth both personally and professionally here at HE&R.
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) I would have to say it was being recognized and selected to represent HE&R as a 2015 award recipient for the YWCA Tribute to Women of Excellence. This award has honored more than 550 extraordinary women over the past 28 years for their contributions to our region, both professionally and philanthropically; women who have dedicated their time and talent to making a difference in Central PA.
Q) You're involved in numerous volunteer organizations. Tell us about them, and why you choose to volunteer?
A) Just to name a few, I’ve volunteered the longest as Church Secretary for John Paul Scott Community Church. I serve on the Board there as well. Our Church is dedicated to spreading God’s word and message of hope through deliverance in an under-served community in the Southside part of Harrisburg where I grew up. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me is quite aware that I’m a very spiritual and faith-driven person who openly shares my love for the Lord. Assisting and giving back to my church and community speaks to who I am at the core. It is certainly a welcomed responsibility that I truly enjoy.
The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) offered me my very first Board Position serving as Director of Communications for over four years for the Harrisburg Chapter. This non-profit organization leads in the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African Americans. Serving as Director of Communication, I had the freedom to be creative by developing event flyers and announcements, taking the lead on fundraiser ideas and events and making a strong presence for the organization through various social media vehicles.
Most recently I’ve been named Vice-chair for Diversity & Inclusion Professionals of Central PA (DIPCPA). DIPCPA is a resource group that brings regional diversity professionals together to discuss the day-to-day implementation of initiatives within Central PA. I was very excited to accept this new volunteer opportunity as it purposefully aligns with my new position here at HE&R.
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) The ability to make a valuable impact and feed my ‘passion for people’ in a business imperative focus, such as Diversity & Inclusion.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts?
A) Seek opportunities that speak to your passion and allows you to touch the lives of others in some way, shape or form.
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) The opportunity to work across all departments and company functions to help improve our diverse workforce and ensure we are being "respectful of others."
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) Quite honestly, so far no one day has been the same. From researching current D&I topics and issues, to data review and analysis from a D&I perspective, to preparing presentations, attending recruiting events, project collaborations, networking and building relationships within our company and throughout the community, to planning and coordinating social events and the list goes on. My day-to-day activities are endless, and can you believe I'm only getting started…LOL.
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) In October 2013, I became an organ donor. In a “selfless spirit of service” I donated my left kidney to a family member, and to see her overall improved quality of life since our surgeries is one of the biggest blessings of all.