Interview by Dayna Brownfield
Growing up in Northwest Ohio, Taylor Ray Orsbon says Columbus was the city she always visited for shopping, family adventures, and entertainment. It certainly didn’t hurt that her family are all Buckeye fans and that her older sister attended The Ohio State University. She always held Columbus close to her heart. And she knew that this city was where she wanted to work, play and raise a family. So immediately after college (literally on graduation day), Orsbon moved to the capital city. She currently oversees community partnerships – connecting organizations in Central Ohio – while growing and nurturing a talented team within her department as the Director of Development for Experience Columbus.
How did you get started on your career path? I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in journalism, a focus in public relations, and a minor in marketing. I started working for Fahlgren Mortine as an Account Associate on their PR team during my final semester at BGSU; commuting between Columbus and Bowling Green as I finished my degree.
Following my experience at Fahlgren, I was given the opportunity to join Geben Communication, where I had the pleasure to work for Heather Whaling. I spent nearly six years at Geben supporting businesses from early-stage startups and venture capitalists to established Fortune 500 companies.
What’s it like to work for Experience Columbus? Experience Columbus’ vision is to be the leading force in creating and revealing the best of the Columbus experience to the world. Our mission is to sell, market, and promote the Destination Columbus experience to visitors.
My day-to-day involves meeting with various members of the community — from small businesses and startups, to some of the region’s largest and most influential corporations — learning about their business goals, identifying opportunities to support each in a unique and valuable way, and helping to connect the dots. I’m also working with our Experience Columbus team to build collaboration throughout the organization and our sister organization, The Greater Columbus Sports Commission, identifying ways to work seamless together to achieve our mission.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? First and foremost, my mother. She successfully owned and operated our family company for several years in my home town of Van Wert, OH. From a business standpoint, I learned from her how to provide truly exceptional customer service, and how to live your values day in and day out. From a leadership standpoint, she’s taught me the power of collaboration, kindness, and empathy.
My former boss, Heather Whaling, has also helped guide me along the way for the past several years – from PR strategy to running a successful business. But, more importantly, she showed me first-hand the value of giving back and supporting our community. Both of these women also taught me how to be a strong female leader and how to inspire the next generation of female leaders.
And finally, I must note my long-time mentor, Shane Haggerty, Owner & President at Purposeland Marketing and PR. He helped me connect and network with influencers in Central Ohio before I even lived here, and he’s always been a steadfast guide for me when making big career decisions.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the work week? Well, I have a nine-month-old son at home, so he’s typically the first to get me up at the crack of dawn. However, the idea of supporting my community, helping grow the businesses that make it up, and working with such a talented and kind team is really what motivates me to head into work each day.
My son is hands down what gets me through the work week. The opportunity to spend time with him and help him explore, learn, and grow is rewarding beyond measure.
What are some of your work-life balance challenges & how do you address them? Work-life balance is a tricky thing because I love my job, but I love family time more than anything. For me, I’ve learned to set some boundaries – identifying what works for me and what doesn’t work for me on both a schedule and time commitment standpoint. I’ve mapped out my priorities, and set boundaries according to those priorities.
I will say that when you’re passionate about your job, sometimes you run into a grey area and you find yourself working longer or beyond your boundaries. That’s where your mentors and friends come into play – I seek their input on helping me re-examine where I’m at and where I want to be. I also have worked to take the time to feel what I’m feeling without judgement, and I identify ways to achieve what I’m looking for without sacrificing what’s most important to me.
How do you unwind from work? I love going out to eat and drink with my family — margaritas at Nada in the Arena District, pizza at Harvest Pizzeria in German Village or live music and dinner and Local Roots in Powell. I also thoroughly enjoy visiting with my family in Northwest Ohio, exploring outdoors, and spending time with my best friends.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I’m super competitive. If I’m involved in something, or playing a game/sport/activity, I like to win.
What super power would you choose? The ability to see into the future. I love to anticipate what’s coming next, plan for it and/or make the most of the opportunities put in front of me.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? A teacher. I love working with others, helping them grow, and achieve success. It’s probably why supporting and managing a team is so important to me.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? I’m obsessed with NPR’s Up First podcast – I listen religiously every morning. I’m also really into a local podcast called 200 Proof Life. As far as books go, I’ve recently read and re-read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus? If they have never been, I would say the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is a must – it’s really perfect for all ages, but also a great family adventure. I’d also have to suggest some delicious food like Harvest Pizzeria or if you’re looking for more upscale I’d suggest Lindey’s in German Village. If they’re into sports, I’d suggest checking out the Blue Jackets or the Clippers, and then trying out some of the local breweries on the Ale Trail.
What’s the most exciting thing about Columbus right now? The growth of new attractions and adventures. Take the National Veterans Memorial and Museum for example. The brewery scene of Central Ohio has also exploded in recent years. And, long time attractions like The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium just keep getting better with new exhibits and things like The Wilds.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? I would have to say thriving. Our community is collaborative and supportive, which continues to lead to new opportunities and growth for the city.