Leading a Health Revolution: Team Profile – Elisa Denning, Senior Director of Marketing & Public Relations

Pictured above is Elisa (far right) with CFW Business Development team at the recent WBENC conference in Detroit.

As we surpass 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 enthuse others to pursue their goals and aspirations, so together we can lead a health revolution that moves the world!

The A-ha Moment

There is no question Elisa is at home in front of an audience, although what defines her audience has greatly evolved over the years. Initially pursuing a college degree in Music Performance, Elisa had dreams of becoming a professional actress or singer.  It was while she was teaching group fitness classes on campus for students and faculty, that Elisa first realized what an impact she could have on other people’s lives. She loved the idea of being a source of knowledge, guidance and inspiration for others to help them reach their personal fitness goals. In that moment, Elisa took a leap of faith, said so long to the possibility of a music career, and made the decision to switch her major to Kinesiology with a focus on Health Promotion. And much like her audience over the years, Elisa’s role at Corporate Fitness Works is forever evolving.

We asked Elisa to share a few things about her career journey and success Corporate Fitness Works. 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 today? 

When I think about the challenges I face in my role today, I feel that my upbringing and experiences as a performer have prepared me the most. I’m often placed in the spokesperson role, figuring out creative and compelling ways to deliver company messaging to various audiences. Thanks to the performance skills influenced by my parents and my amazing teachers and directors, I am comfortable stepping into the spotlight with a crowd. When delivering marketing and communications, I rely on these skills to project confidence and come up with content that is both entertaining and valuable.

During my college years, I worked several jobs in various fitness and recreation facilities. One of those jobs was for the KSU Kinesiology department, serving a local corporation with onsite fitness services and coordinating the group exercise program, for which I hired and trained new instructors. This gave me early hands-on experience that directly influenced my work ethic and career path toward corporate wellness and fitness management. I was also raised with the show must go on mentality, which really does apply to all types of situations. It’s a committed mindset that no matter what obstacles come up I’m going to find a way around them, deliver my piece, and “wow” the audience while I’m at it.

What is your #1 motivator? What are you most passionate about in the work that you do?

This is simple! My biggest motivator is helping others! I’ve held a variety of roles throughout my professional career. From working directly with members on setting and reaching personal health goals, to delivering proposals and supporting sales strategies, the one constant motivator for me has always been to help others be happy and successful. It’s not for any sort of praise or applause, rather it’s the sense of joy and fulfillment when I’ve been able to help our team reach a goal, find a solution, or inspire progress. It’s the positive feeling and teamwork that is the pay off.

Describe the key steps you took in the path to your career success/career growth that made the greatest impact?

I truly believe the key to my career growth is because I never waited for someone to show me opportunity. I found opportunity by discovering gaps, presenting solutions to close those gaps, and then followed-through on implementation. My career with Corporate Fitness Works began as a Health Fitness Specialist and my growth didn’t happen overnight. It required patience and persistence. I spent my first six years working in our management sites, listening and looking for those opportunities to present myself as a source for solutions. This started with creative engagement programs, site marketing campaigns, to later developing resources and best practices for our corporate communications. In each role I have worked to prove myself valuable beyond the required responsibilities. This proactive approach has kept me on a continued path of learning and growth.

How does your role as Senior Director of Marketing & PR support Team Leader growth and our business growth?

As Senior Director of Marketing & PR, I support our brand visibility and follow-through of our company mission, vision, and goals on all external and internal platforms. Internally, I work with our leadership teams to craft messaging and deliver our All Team Leader webinars. I oversee the collaboration and distribution of our News that Moves team newsletter and ensure accessibility to resources that are part of those communications. Helping to provide clear and consistent communications that cascade throughout all levels of our organization supports Team Leader growth on an ongoing basis.

Externally, I support business growth by working with our various business units to provide sales and marketing collateral that is attractive and promotes our capabilities. When I have a project that takes me into my creative space to design graphics for sales presentations, create logos, or freshen our web content, I consider that to be my playground. I love getting to work with our talented Social Media and Shared Promotions Teams on strategies and creative content that engages a vast audience in what we do and who we are. This has tremendous impact on our brand integrity, our recruitment efforts, as well as strengthens our visibility to potential clients on a national, even global perspective.

How does your role most impact our client’s (and the members we serve) success?

I most impact our client and member success by serving as a conduit for communications and resources. Our workforce is geographically dispersed from east to west coast and in every time zone. Our ideal is for a client or member to walk into one of our managed facilities, whether that’s in Seattle, WA or Washington, DC, and have a positive, memorable experience with our team and services. As the conduit, my role is to help exchange information and reinforce our culture and objectives set by Executives and Account Management Team. This helps our Team be informed and have access to training, best practices, operating standards, along with opportunities to gather and share innovative engagement strategies that impact our client and member service.

Share a career highlight.

In the Spring of 2007, I was nominated for Corporate Fitness Works’ Rachel House Hudson Customer Care Award. At the time I was Director/Program Manager for a corporate site based in the Kansas City area. My nomination was entirely executed by the members, who reached out to people on my team and our client liaison to endorse my nomination. This is a Corporate Fitness Works award, mainly promoted on our internal networks. The fact that the client members took the time to gather and submit my nomination, complete with 500+ word essay, was such an honor. While I did not win, our company founders came out to Kansas City to host a regional celebrations dinner. They each spoke about me in front of my peers and read excerpts from my nomination. I felt like a winner and I still consider the nomination a major highlight in my 16 years with Corporate Fitness Works. The experience fortified my career choice and made me feel highly valued.

If you could share one “value added tip” as Senior Director of Marketing & PR of CFW, what would it be?

At the risk of sounding cliché, my value-added tip comes back to communication! Specifically, to realize that meaningful and effective communication starts before your mouth even opens. Listening with empathy is key, and something I continue to work on every day. Too often a breakdown in communications occurs when we have failed to listen and truly understand what our audience needs or wants to hear. Once we have mastered that side of the communication equation, the written, verbal, and visual presentation of information is ten-times more effective.

Please share an interesting fact about you that you would want our Team and our clients to know.

The summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I was selected among 50 elite choral students in the state of Kansas to participate in a performance tour throughout England and Whales. Myself and two other students out of that 50 were invited as soloists to be featured in the program. I was in awe of the architecture and rich history, as my voice bounced off the walls of stunning cathedrals. From Buckingham Palace, to Stonehenge, various famous castles, and even Stratford-upon Avon, I loved taking in the sites and culture. It was an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish always.

While my days of European singing tours are over, I now enjoy my lead role as a mom of two energetic kids, Piper and Liam, and going on family adventures.

Above left: Elisa on center stage with microphone in hand, providing entertainment at CFW’s 30th Anniversary celebration this past April. Above right: Elisa and her family taking in some Colorado white-water rafting, hiking, and zip-lining the Konza Prairie earlier this summer.

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