August '18

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22 • RV PRO • August 2018 rv-pro.com Celebrating LE A DING WOMEN in the RV Industr y Toby O'Rourke, President, KOA Toby O'Rourke wanted to come home when she took a position with the Kampgrounds of America marketing team seven years ago. The Montana native had lived out of state going to school and working before she found an opportunity to return home. Right out of college she went into software development and business consulting. She then went to graduate school, and after obtaining her MBA she transitioned into marketing, working in consumer goods. O'Rourke worked for the Sara Lee Corp. as an assistant brand manager, then as an associate brand manager and digital marketing manager for WhiteWave Foods. This helped her transition into the role of head of digital marketing for KOA. "My main focus was our website, email marketing, social media and our App," O'Rourke says. Within a year she was leading marketing, moving from director of digital marketing to senior director of marketing to vice president of marketing. During her tenure as vice president of marketing she launched the "What's Behind the Yellow Sign" campaign and also introduced campground branding. KOA campgrounds can now be defined as "Holiday", "Journey" or "Resort", so campers know better what to expect when they make a reservation. In 2016, O'Rourke was promoted to chief of franchise operations, where she oversaw the sales department, brand development, franchise operations, and information services department. Then, in early March, she was promoted to the role of president, which she says was a natural extension of her chief franchise operations position. She works side by side with CEO Pat Hittmeier. "I'm obviously excited. It's such a great company," she says. "I love marketing and working on a brand that brings families together outside. It aligns with how I raise my family. I believe in what we deliver here, and I believe in small business. "I'm very honored to be in this leadership position for this company. They've made a lot of investment in me and I will try my hardest," she adds. "It's a really great place for me. We have a great product; it's a great activity for families." O'Rourke says the untapped potential in the campground and RV industry is amazing. "We've had year-over-year growth for seven years now," she says. "We want to keep that momentum going and position ourselves for what may be coming 10 to 15 years out. We want to keep viable, interesting and innovative. KOA can lead the way for innovation." She says KOA will continue to expand into different business segments across North America and beyond. As a powerful woman in business, O'Rourke says she hopes to set a good example for her nieces and daughter and also hopes they will see the example of a working mom. Her advice for those new to the business? "Whether getting a start in this industry, or any industry, I think you should put your time and heart into what you're passionate about," she says. "This is an easy industry to become passionate about. It's easy to be passionate about getting friends and family together in the outdoors. … Every day I wake up and am excited to work for KOA. People should tap into what their passion is; I've definitely tapped into mine."

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