Leading a Health Revolution: Executive Profile Teresa Fortunato O’Mara, Vice President of Team Care
As we approach a major milestone, our company’s 30th Anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the people that have led us to where we are today. By sharing their stories, their inspirations and lessons learned, we hope to inspire others to pursue their goals and aspirations, so together we can lead a health revolution that moves the world!
The A-ha Moment
Teresa’s path to the health and fitness profession was anything but straight and narrow. When she first enrolled in college, she wasn’t sure what to major in. Her dad said, “Choose business – it will work for any career”. With that very sound and logical advice, Teresa committed her studies to a business major. However, she quickly discovered that business didn’t excite her. She had been an athlete all her life. She loved biology and enjoyed learning about how the human body worked. Exercise continued to be a big part of Teresa’s college life, and she decided to take the occasional class in nutrition and biology. Teresa graduated with a Business Management degree, but still had no idea what she wanted to do. While working as a bartender at a local Chili’s, she learned one of her co-workers had a full-time job in corporate fitness. Only having knowledge about fitness jobs in the commercial club setting, the idea of a career in corporate health and fitness was fascinating to Teresa. She began personal training and applied to graduate school. While working towards her Masters in Exercise Science from George Mason University, Teresa started interviewing for corporate health and fitness positions. It was 26 years ago when she ended up getting her first job in corporate fitness with L&T Health and Fitness, today Corporate Fitness Works. Grateful to have been given the chance to explore the profession while earning her Masters, Teresa has continued to grow and flourish in her career.
We asked Teresa to share a few things about her successful career with Corporate Fitness Works. And this is what she had to say…
Tell us about a time in your studies or in your career that helped you prepare for the challenges you face in your role as VP of Team Care.
Despite earning a degree in Business Management and then working in corporate fitness, that degree has come in handy! Each of our sites must run like business to a certain degree, and my business background has been helpful for that.
What is your #1 motivator? What are you most passionate about in the work that you do?
Whether working with members in a fitness center, working with our clients, or now working with all CFW Team Leaders in my Team Care role—helping people and knowing that I’ve made a difference is what motivates me most. This started with pure joy of helping members reach their personal health and fitness goals. Later, it evolved in to the excitement from retaining and continuing to wow our clients with impactful programs and services. Now, it’s making a Team Leader’s CFW experience even better by creating resources and engagement opportunities, like Achieving TEAM Culture and Coaching for Leadership (partnership with Slippery Rock University).
Describe the key steps you took in the path to your career success that made the greatest impact?
For me, a key to my success is that I’ve always been open to a new opportunity or challenge. I worked at many different sites in the Washington, DC area. Each time I made a change, it was scary, but it was always worth it. I learned from every experience. Even after becoming a Senior Account Manager and overseeing multiple management clients and teams, I had the opportunity to become our Director of Training, work with our Wellness Team, and now work in Team Care. Every role has helped me grow and challenged me. I bring these past experiences and lessons learned to each new opportunity, and that helps me to make an even bigger impact.
How does your role as VP of Team Care support Team Leader growth and our business growth?
Team Care is the heart of CFW. It is much more than Human Resources. I believe our key role is to support the Team Leaders and continue to make their CFW experience better and better by highlighting and infusing our culture into everything we do; offering training and development opportunities, making Team Care processes easy and streamlined, and continuing to provide quality benefits.
How does your role most impact our client’s success?
By meeting our goals as a business unit, Team Care ensures that all Team Leaders across the company receive the support, communications, training and recognition to be at their very best. This elevates our Team Leader’s ability to serve our clients and members, while stimulating companywide engagement, teamwork, and purpose driven contributions.
Share a career highlight.
Being presented with the Mary M. Drohan award and being the first ever recipient has been a significant career highlight. Our Leadership Team had gathered for an annual meeting in Florida last February. What I thought was just a team gathering as part of the meeting agenda, turned out to be my award reception. I was totally surprised when my name was called! It was special to receive an award in honor of Sheila’s mom and to celebrate how she supported Sheila and Brenda to start our company. (Pictured above is Teresa [middle] receiving this honor from CFW Founders, Brenda Loube [left] and Sheila Drohan [right].)
If you could share one “value added tip” as VP of Team Care, what would it be?
Never underestimate the value of Team. In my experience, no matter what I’m working on, it is exponentially better when I work on it with a CFW Team. I’ve seen this in our Account Management Team, our Culture Ambassadors, the Team Care Team, and all throughout our organization. The collaboration and support in that environment can’t be beat! (Fact! Just about every picture we have of Teresa shows her surrounded by Team. See below left, Teresa [middle of top row] surrounded by Coaching for Leadership Team, and then again [farthest left in middle row] with CFW Culture Ambassadors. Both teams have formed and flourished thanks to Teresa’s leadership).
Please share an interesting fact that you would want our Team and our clients to know about you?
While many of our Executive and Leadership Team Leaders have held various roles in the company, it’s a bit unique that I have worked at seven different sites each with very diverse corporate and government environments. I’ve also held seven positions with the company, starting as Health Fitness Specialist, then Program Manager, Group Exercise Coordinator, Regional Supervisor, Director of Operations (aka Senior Account Manager), Director of Training and Development, and now Vice President of Team Care.
Other interesting facts, Teresa has participated in the Seattle Big Climb, climbing 69 exhaustive floors (over 1,300 steps) of one of the tallest buildings west of the Mississippi to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She also enjoys participating in 5-mile trail runs that take place in the beautiful parks of Northern Virginia, completing at least one race every spring and fall season. The third picture below shows Teresa, wearing a green hat, with her younger sister and brother-in-law after completing one of those trail runs.