Next Up Columbus 2024: Chelsea Brooks

Chelsea Brooks
Chelsea Brooks

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Brooks

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Chelsea Brooks
Age: 32
Profession: Senior Marketing Manager & Operating Partner, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
Neighborhood: Hilliard
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Strategic Communications
Community Involvement: Member of the Destination Experience Marketing Committee, Volunteer with She Has a Name, Kappa Delta alumna
Quote: Whatever you encounter, may that be part of the path. -Tara Brach
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram

Give us a snapshot of your path
I grew up in northern New Jersey and came to The Ohio State University for college. During my undergrad, I had the pleasure of dining at multiple Cameron Mitchell Restaurants locations when my parents or friends’ families came to visit, though I wasn’t too familiar with the company back then.

At a job & internship fair during my junior year I met someone from CMR and immediately applied for the marketing internship they were hiring for. I went through the group interview, was brought on as an intern for that summer, and really the rest is history. I LOVED the company, the culture and my internship experience so much, that before the summer was even over, I had decided that was where I wanted to work after graduation.

I got a big surprise at the beginning of my senior year fall semester when I learned I had enough credits to graduate early – winter 2013, instead of spring 2014. I was thrilled, and naturally hopeful I’d be able to join CMR full-time right away, but the timing wasn’t quite right, and the company wasn’t hiring at the time. Such is life, right! I went on to get some experience at a few other companies, but ultimately nothing compared to CMR. In August of 2017 I took a chance on myself and began working part-time as a host at Martini, not only to make a little extra money, but truly to get my foot back in the door at CMR.

I never lost contact with the CMR marketing team after my internship, and they knew I wanted to be a part of the magic they were creating. A few short months after starting at Martini, I got a call from Heather Leonard, the SVP of Marketing at CMR – the same person who was running the department during my internship, who has become my boss, mentor, and friend. She was overjoyed to offer me the opportunity to be on her team, and needless to say I didn’t have to give it a second thought. That was almost 7 years ago, and it is the biggest blessing I’ve received, and best decision I’ve ever made.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
Getting up in the morning is easy, because I genuinely love my job. I am so deeply invested in the well-being of CMR, and feel that our company culture, and striving to live it daily, makes me a better human overall. I’m motivated throughout the week by the fire and passion of my colleagues, my drive to be successful and make myself proud, and knowing I’m contributing to the nest egg my husband and I are building for our little family. Knowing I’m in a position I love and working for the company I’d like to retire from is a major motivation.

Getting outside, spending time with my husband & dogs, exercising and enjoying a few glasses of red wine are all keys to keeping me balanced throughout the week! My parents still live in NJ, so talking to them on the phone usually multiple times a week, keeps me connected & grounded as well.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I would be remiss to not lead with my parents here. They are the most supportive, loving, hardworking, encouraging and generous people I know. To keep it simple – because I could go on forever – I owe all that I am to them. I am truly lucky to be their daughter.

Heather Leonard, the SVP of Marketing at CMR, and my boss, has been the definition of a mentor to me and beyond. She leads by example, and wants nothing more than to see others thrive, grow, and be successful. If she has anything to do with the trajectory of your career and your development as a person, you’re in good hands. She’s taught me everything I know about marketing, and even more about what it means to inspire, lead and support others. She’s one of my very favorite people and I feel so lucky to work under her leadership.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Especially during this time of year I love to be outside. One of my favorite things to do is sit on my front porch with my husband, a cold drink in-hand, maybe some music playing or reading a book, and watching our pups play in the yard. Heaven!

Walking and cycling are also major outlets for me. It’s amazing the way a little movement can shift your mindset!

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I have more than a few, but for the sake of the question – Martini, the German Village neighborhood as a whole, Dub Pub + anywhere my pups are allowed!

I absolutely love visiting OSU’s campus to walk around and reminisce or attend events like concerts & sporting events. It brings back the best memories!

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I’m currently reading Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand. I love a fun beach-read in the summer, and all of her books take place on Nantucket – my very favorite place!

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I’m so honored! I’ve put my heart and soul into my career up to this point, and it’s both thrilling and humbling to be acknowledged at this level.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Inclusivity, art, food, fun, creativity, sports, pride, love & Midwest hospitality. Columbus is a really special place, and I’m so happy to be part of this community.

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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