Sam Rodriguez

Program Manager, Hakkasan Group
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What do you do for work? Give us a few reasons why you love it.
I am the Corporate Program Manager for the Hakkasan Group in Las Vegas. I love my job because it has allowed me to branch out in a variety of areas. The position was created to allow me the ability to take on different tasks within the organization. My work includes travel, security, business continuity/crisis, employee engagement and corporate social responsibility (my favorite). I work in a different kind of industry— in a one-of- a-kind place — so when I asked my boss (CFO) what my next step was, he asked, “Where do you want to go?” That kind of freedom has made my job what it is today.
 
Your current company aside, name another company in any industry that you admire and explain why.
Virgin’s employee first mentality is something I greatly admire. It’s such a simple concept that seems overlooked. A happy employee makes for a happy customer, easy peasy.
 
How did you become good at what you do? What steps do you take to keep improving?
I worked in retail from 19-23 years old. I’ve managed a staff from 5-50. I’ve been responsible for someone’s livelihood. That kind of responsibility, at a young age, made me aware of people outside of me. I care, that is what makes me good at my job. I’m aware that I don’t know it all. I improve by asking questions from the veterans of my company and actually listening to their feedback.
 
Where do you expect to be in 5 years?
Why is this question giving me such anxiety?! It’s a little embarrassing to admit that all I can see is me on a lush green mountain top with a kickass little sidekick. I can’t tell if that’s because I’m 30 without kids or if I’m in need of another adventure, either way, that’s all I have for this one.
 
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?
I totaled my car last year. I was fine but it was the first real glimpse of my own mortality. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned about life is to live it. Our days are limited, I want to make as many as I can the best that I can.
 
How do you measure success at work? In life?
Measuring success at work can be challenging, on one side you have tangible results; money saved, manuals and SOPs completed. On the other hand are the intangibles; do people enjoy their job? Am I communicating these programs effectively to yield the highest output of donations and participation? Is my message clear? My goal at work is improvement. At the end of the day if I know I tried my best, I’m solid. Life is so much trickier, it used to be money in the bank — when you have none it’s a really good barometer. Now I’m not living the high life by any means but the priorities have changed. I’ve got love, good friends, regular adventure and a goal in front of me, and when these are aligned, I feel pretty damn successful.