Beth Geary, 39, studied business administration at the University of Southern Maine before launching her career in marketing. She is an only child whose parents split their time between Maine and Florida. Although Geary lives in Wells, she spends much of her time with her husband’s family in Kennebunk. The mother of a 15-month-old, Geary enjoys going to the beach with her daughter, cooking, spending time with family and friends, going to concerts and “puttering around” her house and yard when she’s not working.
Merriam Webster’s definition of a mentor is “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” Another definition is “a trusted counselor or guide.” For me, my former boss was this to a “T.”
When I approached hotelier Debbie Lennon for a job in 2011, my goal was to use my marketing background to land a job with a thriving company that would allow me to move from the Boston area to Kennebunkport. Intrigued by a piece I’d read about Hidden Pond in Food & Wine Magazine, I was hoping for a shot at working for what I felt was an incredibly cool and innovative brand with remarkable potential. I’d been in the marketing field my entire career but had never ventured into hospitality other than waitressing and bartending.
Debbie agreed to give me a job in her newly formed company, the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, where I’d be wearing many hats and managing numerous tasks that flew my way each day. As her “Jill-of all-trades,” I would be assisting with email marketing, partnership outreach, a bit of copy writing and other miscellaneous tasks. I also spent time behind the front desk of the Kennebunkport Inn for the first six months, interacting with guests and learning how this critical point of the guest experience functions.
As the business grew, I became too busy to continue working behind the desk, but was incredibly grateful for the experience, as it not only allowed me to see what front-of-the-house teams do on a daily basis, but also taught me a side of the business that anyone supporting it in my role should experience first hand.
Over the next four years, Debbie’s intelligence, experience and hands-off management style enabled me to learn new skills and sharpen existing ones. She challenged me to think long term and how the actions and steps taken today would impact not only the bigger picture, but set the tone and build a foundation for success down the road.
From website management, digital marketing, advertising and more, I was able to manage these crucial marketing elements and make decisions that would impact the bottom line of a multi-million dollar company. Her faith in me, coupled with guidance and consistent infusions of her wisdom and knowledge, allowed me to strengthen my grasp on things I was learning. Imagine it – as a marketer, someone who had spent 12 years marketing everything from nationally recognized retail brands like the Gillette Venus, Milk-Bone Dog Biscuits, Verizon telecomm services and an up-and-coming all-natural chip brand, Food Should Taste Good, to now selling luxury hotel and world-class dining experiences to guests visiting from around the globe was a great progression.
In the four years I was with the company, the portfolio went from four hotels and three restaurants, to eight hotels, seven restaurants, a virtual culinary service and unique spa. It was a whirlwind of opening new properties, always striving to improve upon our offerings and guest experience and never forgetting how each decision and dollar impacted the bottom line.
Growing up in Greene, Maine, I’ve witnessed small business at its best since the beginning. I’ve moved to several great states and enjoyed my time there, but something has always brought me back to my roots and the comfort of Maine. I love its genuine people, beautiful setting and authenticity that can’t be found in other places. One of the things I love most is how gritty people are here. And I say gritty with the utmost respect and admiration. There is a roll-up-your-sleeves mentality and a strong sense of community that are endearing and precious here.
Through my time with Debbie and the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, the years of moving around and the various roles I’ve served, I’ve come down to this: When I lay my head down at night, I want to do so knowing that I have helped someone that day. Whether it was as simple as a conversation that sparked an idea, volunteering on a committee where my experience can help a nonprofit organization, or helping a new company get off the ground, knowing I’ve made even a small difference helps me to sleep better. So, for helping me hone the skills necessary to embark on my own and pursue this passion, my sincere thanks and appreciation are owed to my mentor, and friend, Debbie Lennon. My time with her provided the confidence and know-how to start my own marketing consulting business, Geary Marketing Group through which I hope to help as many people as I can.