Young Professional 2018: Gina Donangelo

Gina Donangelo, Washington marketing manager at Hayden Homes

Gina Donangelo

(Photo courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography)

Age: 32

Education: Bachelor’s of science in business administration, minor in marketing; master’s of business administration in business marketing

Hometown: Monterey, California

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? I have lived in the Tri-City area for over five-and-a-half years.

Do you have family? Pets? Two children, Joseph, 3, and Olivia, 16 months old, and two dogs, Max and Cooper

Briefly describe your company: Hayden Homes strives to build stronger communities by providing affordable homeownership opportunities for the hardworking families throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

How long have you worked there? 2.5 years.

What word best describes you? Reliable/driven

Your biggest flaw? I am a perfectionist.

Biggest pet peeve? Being late

Favorite book? “I’ve Been Thinking” by Maria Shriver

Favorite movie? “White Christmas”

Favorite musician? Eric Church

Favorite sports team? San Francisco Giants

Favorite website? Facebook

Favorite Tri-City restaurant? Bonefish Grill

Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities? Wine tasting and devouring appetizers with friends

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I love running, and my personal goal is to run a full marathon before I turn 35.

If you could have dinner with one person (living or deceased) who would it be? My husband, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres.

Describe your job: As the marketing manager, I serve as the primary marketing contact for the Washington region. I oversee our Washington regional marketing specialist and offer coaching and mentoring along with career development opportunities.

I am responsible for overseeing, measuring and developing strategic marketing and communications initiatives that generate traffic to our Hayden Homes communities while maintaining and upholding corporate branding and image standards. In addition, I identify and secure sponsorship opportunities to promote Hayden Homes. Interacting with community partners to execute events and participating in community initiatives are responsibilities of my role as well.

Marketing was always something I was interested in. I love sharing a brand’s story and engaging customers through various marketing mediums, to create interest in our brand and product as well as relationships. I was commuting to Walla Walla as a marketing director for a hotel for three years but was looking to find a company that I could see myself growing and being a part of for the long term. I saw the Hayden Homes job and as I began to read more about the role, I knew it was what I was looking for.

Mentors: Prior to moving to the Tri-Cities, I was a marketing manager for a commercial real estate and travel and tourism company in Monterey, California. My manager, the vice president of public relations and marketing, was an incredible mentor to me. She was the only woman on an executive team of nine men, whom had all been with the company for 15-plus years. The culture was very political with an old-school way of thinking and doing business. Diane Mandeville taught me to respond to situations with grace and purpose.

Another mentor I have is Hayden Homes’ vice president of community engagement, Deborah Flagan. Again, another strong woman in a situation surrounded by men. She has taught me the power of engaging and listening to others, to truly learn them as a person as opposed to someone to network with.

Toughest career decision: Accepting a new position at Hayden Homes this past February. This position would allow me to continue to grow my skillset as a leader within the company, but also would add additional travel and time away from my family. A year ago, when the position was initially discussed, my husband was incredibly supportive, he was willing to adjust his time and schedule, so I could keep growing professionally, and to ensure I could commit to the additional travel as we both worked full time. However, in October, my husband passed away unexpectedly, putting the decision on hold until I could get my life in balance again. The opportunity was brought up once more by my leader in December. Before the accident, the decision to excel was simple. Now, being the sole provider for my children, living nine hours away from family, and the idea of adding additional time away from my children, whom have already had enough change, made the decision more difficult. Though I wanted to continue to grow with Hayden Homes, it was challenging for me to put myself first in a time I needed to focus on my family. It was not until I realized that I wanted to set a positive example for my children, showing them that you can overcome a difficult time and continue moving forward toward your dreams and goals that I knew I would and could make this opportunity work. I accepted the position in February and it has been the most rewarding, eye-opening and growing experience. It has forced me to prioritize and plan, to manage my time respectfully to my employer, employee and family, as well as feeling a sense of fulfillment again.

What do you like most/least about your job? I love my job because everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission. Our culture creates a family environment where everyone is there for one another. I also love the variability of my job. I work with several different team members and community partners and can contribute my experience and skills in a variety of ways.

The least favorite part of my job, I would say, is that in my current role, I am not directly interacting with the customer (our homeowners) as I have in my previous positions. Though I am influencing the potential homeowner to walk through our model homes, I am not in direct contact with them through the customer journey. I am a people person, and in my current role, I am monitoring from a different point of view. I would love to be more involved in their journey.

First job: What did you learn from it? A pro shop retail clerk at a world-renowned golf course, Pebble Beach. I worked there throughout high school, as well as the summer months when I was home from college. I had to give every customer the same above-and-beyond experience as if they were spending thousands of dollars with the company. Pebble Beach helped me see from the customers’ point of view and “deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience to each and every one of their guests.” Since this position, I have taken that customers’ point of view to the various positions I’ve held in my career path.

Achieving work-life balance: Being a single mom, finding a work-life balance is tough at times. However, I am grateful to work for a company that firmly believes in having a positive work-life balance for its employees. In time, I have learned to focus on the things that are most important to me and that I can control. Understanding my limits of what I am able and unable to achieve in a given day or week gives me a realistic perspective and balance. For example, when I get home from the work day, I make my children the priority and put away all electronics, so I can engage with them without any distractions. Being that they are so young, their bedtimes are early, and I have a few hours a day during the work week to spend with them, I make a conscious effort to ensure I am fully present with them.

Having a good mental health mindset is very important to my work-life balance. I take an hour a day to take care of myself because it makes me a better mom, employee and friend.

Community involvement: In my role at Hayden Homes I am fortunate to work with many community members on partnerships throughout the Tri Cities, as well as the giving chair for our non-profit First Story which allows us to support non-profits in the areas we serve. As the giving chair of First Story, I am grateful for the opportunity given, to learn and give back to non-profits such as Service Peace Warriors, YWCA, SARC, Second Harvest Food Bank, Safe Harbor and Domestic Violence Shelter, to name a few, and find ways for myself and our team members to continue giving and volunteering throughout the year. Though Hayden Homes last year, I worked closely with KNDU on their Hometown Harvest Food Drive, organizing and heading a contest throughout our Hayden model homes to raise food donations for the Northwest Food Bank. Together, we were able to raise a record, 2,400 pounds of food (30,000 meals) for those in the Benton and Franklin counties.

In February 2017, I joined the board of the Kennewick Police Department Foundation. I took on the role of event planning and executing for the annual Breakfast with the Chief event. As a daughter of a retired police officer of 30-years, I joined the board to find ways to give my time to those who have helped so many and shape me to the person I am today.

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