Maxine DeHart isn’t afraid of taking on responsibilities.
In addition to working at the Ramada Inn as director of sales and marketing, DeHart also writes a weekly business column for the Kelowna Capital News and is a City of Kelowna councillor. DeHart has been at the Ramada for the past 30 years after starting as a conference manager before creating and moving into the sales department, where her job is to sell the hotel and make sure the sleeping rooms and conference halls are all full.
DeHart originally worked for Scotiabank in Kelowna, a role that saw her take a job in Vancouver for 18 months before returning to the Kelowna branch. At that point she knew that if she wanted another promotion she would have to move, and as she didn’t want to leave Kelowna she jumped at the opportunity of working at the Ramada Inn when it was offered to her.
“It’s a very different type of job,” she explained. “People say once you’re in the hotel industry or tourism, but hotels specifically, you don’t want to leave it. To be in this industry you really have to like people, because all you do is meet with people all day.”
Being a self-described people person has helped DeHart flourish in the hotel industry. She loves working in sales as it allows her to meet an incredibly diverse spectrum of people who pass through the hotel; and of course it doesn’t hurt that she knows she wouldn’t enjoy sitting in a back room number crunching.
The business connections DeHart has gained through working in the hotel industry have helped her launch into other professions as well. Since 1998 she has been writing Straight from DeHart, a weekly business column for the Capital News. Although writing a column wasn’t something she originally thought she could do, Straight from DeHart has grown from an average of 500 words per column when it started to now consisting of an average of 2,000 words in every Wednesday edition.
DeHart’s expansion into other lines of work didn’t stop with her foray into media, as she is currently serving her second term as a Kelowna city councillor. DeHart noted she has always been interested in politics, so in 2011 she decided to run for city council. She has enjoyed her time on council, as evidenced by her decision to run for a second term, although she acknowledged it wasn’t quite what she originally expected.
“You never really know what it’s like until you’re there,” she laughed. “People ask me if it’s exactly what I thought it would be, and I say, ‘No.’ In politics, whether it’s civic, provincial or federal, I don’t think you know until you’re there and you experience it. It’s very different, but it’s been really good and again it’s a people business. Sort of everything I do is people-oriented. The column is all about people, the hotel is all about people I deal with and as a civic leader it’s all about people.”
In addition to holding three jobs, DeHart also spends a large portion of her time volunteering. She currently sits on several boards, including the new Chartered Professional Accountants Board and the National RCMP Foundation Board, and has served on about 20 different boards as either a board member or board chair over the past 25 years. Serving on those boards is a way to not only give back and help her community, but again is another way to meet more people; something she always loves to do.
“It’s really great to get out there and meet people. I’m a fairly open person, so if I’m at an event I’ll usually pick a table and sit down with people I don’t know, as opposed to picking a table with people I do know. I think that’s important, because often when people go to events or functions if they see somebody they know they tend to go straight towards that person and I tend to go straight towards a person I don’t know and introduce myself. I think that’s what helped me to gain the number of people I know and the connections I have in town.”
And that’s what makes Maxine DeHart A Woman to Watch.