Interview by Derek Grosso
Six years ago on Halloween, with a broken collar bone, her cat, and everything she could fit into a Saturn Vue, Kelly Cox moved to Columbus from Oklahoma City, OK to step into a role as a Buyer for Micro Center’s corporate office. She is now responsible for the business development efforts for Serendipity Labs, a 22,000 square foot coworking and event space that opened in August at 21 State Street in downtown Columbus. (A proposed Short North location is planned for early 2018 at the corner of N. High Street and 1st Avenue, within a four-story mixed-use development that will replace a former UDF). And while Kelly’s path to the capital city seems to be a result of serendipity, her decision to stay has been one of affection for community. “Whether you were born and raised here or are a transplant, you are drawn in to and constantly experience this contagious pride,” she says.”That’s the ‘pulse’ of Columbus.”
Name: Kelly Cox
Company and Job Title: Serendipity Labs, Director of Sales
Tell us a little about what you do at Serendipity Labs?
The formal version of my job description is that I am responsible for achieving targets related to memberships, additional services, and meeting room and event space bookings. This is achieved through building professional and social relationships with some of the coolest and most interesting people in Columbus. Either way you look at it, waking up and going to work is pretty awesome and engaging.
What’s unique about Serendipity Labs and what got you involved with them?
Serendipity Labs offers memberships that include full- and part-time coworking, private offices, meeting rooms, and event space. We are truly focused on finding solutions to problems, and doing so in ways that support business growth, while providing an upscale, turn-key model. While Serendipity Labs is a franchise new to Columbus, our local leadership has done business here for nearly 20 years. We use a corporate template, but we have the latitude to give our Lab local flair, by working with vendors who got their start and continue to thrive in this community. I’m here because of the opportunity this role gives me to plug in to the community by working with local independent businesses and entrepreneurs.
Give us a snapshot of your career path, including past employers and positions:
My degrees are in Psychology and Adult Education. I began as a Corporate Trainer with a rural wireless carrier in OKC. I gradually transitioned into a buying role where I sourced cell phone accessories. When that company sold to AT&T, I worked as a Buyer for a consumer electronics distributor until the aforementioned move to Ohio for Micro Center. From there, I spent a couple of years as a Personal Trainer. I then made the smooth transition back into a corporate role when Serendipity Labs hired me in May of this year. Getting here was a fortunate occurrence that happened.
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you achieve success?
I tend to set an expectation of myself to accomplish all the things and give those I encounter my undivided attention. In the simplest form, my career and my family deserve the best version of me. It helps to do a bit of compartmentalization, when possible. I am present at work when I am there, and I soak up quality time with my family when I am with them. It also helps having a good Crockpot.
What career advice has helped you along the way?
The best advice I got early on in my professional life was no matter what my role within the company, organization, or team is that I should take ownership of my business, know who my customer is, and not to let the words “it’s not my job” ever leave my mouth. If it is for the good of the business and it helps the organization be a better resource to whomever we serve, it is, in fact, my job.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
Right now, it’s a 10 week old puppy and freshly ground coffee! But in general, I consider myself really lucky to have a fulfilling job, a great relationship, a sweet family, and good friends. Getting out of bed is easy. Lately, just blinking gets me through the workweek. We are so busy opening our Lab and getting out into the community to get as many eyes on it and as many people talking about it as possible. It makes the time fly.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
During the work week, I unwind with a run outside or by going to the gym or yoga studio. On the weekends, there’s a good chance you can find me spending time with my family and friends, trying new restaurants or breweries, traveling and exploring, or any combination of those.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now?
It’s exciting to get to watch the growth happening here. It’s so evident by seeing what’s going on with the real estate market and the businesses that are emerging. The coolest thing though, is that, amid getting bigger, Columbus can still maintain this Midwestern vibe and the familiarity that can be felt in a smaller city.
What do you think Columbus needs?
In general, we have so many things that make up a great city: local flair, affordable housing, good people and plenty to do. I truthfully wouldn’t change a lot about Columbus. Because downtown is so walkable, it would be great if there were more local retail shops. I anticipate that our Lab members will look forward to having shopping options for when they have down time. As cheesy as it sounds: an amusement park would be a great addition.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The people of Columbus are proud of their city. Whether you were born and raised here or are a transplant, you are drawn in to and constantly experience this contagious pride. That’s the “pulse” of Columbus.