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Women's History Month

Profiles in Leadership


Renee Zumberg

Catering Director

 



1. What is your name and profession?

Renee Zumberg
Catering Director

2. What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

To me, Women’s History Month is a time to highlight and reflect on women and their contributions to the world and society throughout history.

3. As a woman, in what ways have you struggled to get to where you are today and how did you overcome those struggles?

I previously worked for a company called Olympia Entertainment in the Detroit area and one of the venues that we managed was the Detroit Zoo.  I was stationed there for seven years and oversaw all events, promotions, and group sales.  I was then promoted to the position of General Manager of Zoo Services overseeing concessions, merchandise, and grounds (in addition to my initial responsibilities).  I was the first female to hold this position at the zoo.  There was a gentleman about 20 years my senior that had been at the zoo for many years in management when we took over the contract.  He was my toughest person to win over, to date as he felt that I did not deserve the position based solely on my age and my gender.  It was not an easy feat and very challenging.  I had many candid, honest, uncomfortable conversations with him that made me grow as a person, a manager, and a leader.  I frequently asked for his input and advice as he had years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to share.  I made sure to make him feel heard, that he was a valuable member of the team, and that his insight was appreciated.  I also shared my perspective as a fresh set of eyes and a different way of doing business that should be considered.  In the end, he learned to respect me and it was a mutually rewarding business relationship that helped build a very strong management team. 

4. What advice do you have for young women who are aspiring to follow their dreams?

Set goals, work towards those goals, don’t take no for an answer, never sell yourself short, know your worth and your value, always believe in yourself, always remember that you are enough and you can achieve anything.  If you are applying for a job, do your research and your homework and the future is yours!

5. As a woman in your position, how have you fought for equity in the workplace and for other women?

I have fought for equality in the workplace through the positions that I have sought and held in the past.  I have also fought for other women while mentoring them, not only at SVSU with student workers, but also at other positions throughout my career.  One of my favorite parts of my job is mentoring students to become leaders.  Helping them to build their life and business skills and to develop them to move on to their next roles in life is so personally rewarding to me as I see their success stories as they move on in life.

6. Who was your role model and how did they change your life?

I was very blessed in life growing up to have a very strong relationship with my dad and he was definitely my role model.  Being the youngest child of five, I was given the label of ‘daddies little girl’, a label that I wore proudly for 45 years until my father passed away.  My dad was a strong family man who lived first and foremost for the love of his family.  He taught me very strong work ethics, to always be kind, help others, the importance of laughter, the value of friendships, and the foundation of religion.  For all of these reasons and so many others; my dad was my role model and my person in life.  I could call him when I had a question about business, about religion, about life in general.  I was very fortunate to have such a role model in life.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman figure dead or alive who would you choose and why?  

I would LOVE to have dinner with Maya Angelou!  She is so incredibly inspiring to me.  I could listen to her speak for days.  Her voice is so calming but her words are so powerful and moving.  I love reading her poetry and her quotes.  I just can’t get enough of her!  I even named my cat Maya!

8. What is your hope for the next generation of women and girls?

My hope for the next generation of women and girls is that they will see more equality across the board in the workplace and society than they have in the past.  That they will be raised to know their worth, their value, and stand up for their rights as they move this country in a forward direction for themselves and for future generations.