Tamoura Jones is Atlanta Technical College’s program chair of Culinary Arts and Hotel/Restaurant/Tourism Management who is setting out to change the world. “Knowing that I truly can help transform lives through education inspires me,” Jones says about what is fulfilling about her work.
Jones, wanted to be a “big time lawyer” as she puts it. But after she did a little “soul searching,” she discovered that taking this career path would be to please others, and was not something she was really attracted to. She was watching television and one day a commercial the idea of joining a culinary arts program captured her attention.
She shares, “The tuition for my first [school] choice was very expensive and I didn’t want to accumulate too much debt. Surprisingly, while on my job, I was 19 years old and working at Blimpie’s, I got a phone call from then-president of Atlanta Technical College, Dr. Brenda Watts Jones, who asked If I loved to cook and then told me to show up for classes as there was financial assistance available to cover my tuition. I ultimately became a student at Atlanta Technical College, as a culinary arts student.”
Read more of Jones’ story.
What is your day-to-day like at work?
One exciting thing about my work is that there are always many moving parts within my department. While I currently teach four classes, we have lots of “live work” events that go on simultaneously. As a hospitality/culinary department, we are likely the point of contact in providing various catering services. One of the biggest is “Progress and Priorities” an annual dinner, that informs our industry partners and legislation about the work we’ve accomplished all year. We are using instructional time to give a hands-on approach to the theory that we’ve discussed all semester. I guess I could say that each day is different and that is what I love. Whether it’s promoting technical education at a high school career fair or grading a group presentation, we are always using every opportunity to transform lives.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
My work is a continuous thank-you to those who labored with me, poured into my life and helped shape me into the person I am today. My children inspire me.
What industries connect to your career choice?
The hospitality industry is vast. There are so many options within this industry. Food service, lodging, travel, events, parks and recreation even meetings and expositions all fall into the category of my career choice. There is no room to get bored in an industry such as this. At the core of hospitality, you will find that [it] is a major contributor to economic development. These various components of tourism create jobs and generate revenue within a local economy.
Describe the skills that will be essential to future business leader and innovators.
1.) Great Interpersonal skills. You must know how to set the tone for the environment in this service driven industry.
2.) Networking. In this industry, your positive interactions with others are often what create those key moments to building relationships that will result in repeat business.
3.) Attention to detail. We create memories and experiences for people so how we go about “exceeding guest’s expectations” is paramount.
4.) Multitasking. We interact with guests, vendors, and other departments within the operation on a continuous basis so knowing how to adapt in order to meet the varied needs is an important characteristic.
Define innovative methods you apply to your business and life.
A definition of innovation that I love defines innovation as the action or process of change, transformation, alteration, breakthrough. Before any of these can occur there usually is a problem of some sort. So, I have learned to change my perspective on how I see problems. I believe that that are all designed to work for my good, for good of what I am trying to accomplish. When I approach it from that standpoint, I can appreciate the lesson of each obstacle and work to find more favorable outcomes.
Describe goal setting methods you use and how you evaluate your success.
I set both short-term and long-erm goals for both my career and personal life.
My work is pretty straightforward about what I should accomplish throughout the academic year. Ensuring that I meet the benchmarks for my department is just the beginning. True success is measured in how many students have invested in their craft, have graduated and found employment within their field of study. Helping them connect with their passion and honing into an income generating lifestyle that will allow them to provide for their families is success.
Who do you consider your peers in your field? How have they supported you? What best practices have they shared?
The Technical College System of Georgia is comprised of several faculties across the state that I am able to collaborate and share ideas with. These are my peers. We learn so much from one another. We have supported each other over the years on ways to be more cost-effective, through accreditation processes and so many other pertinent issues that impact our institutions.
Name your favorite role models for success in two different industries.
Walt Disney. His spirit of perseverance speaks volumes about innovation, failure and creating magical moments.
George Washington Carver. He is the essence of innovation. “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.” We all know how successful he became as a result of finding 300 uses for the peanut.
Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton
The Joseph Calling by Os Hillman
Explain why lifelong learning is important to you.
From a personal perspective and because life is always teaching you lessons, you will repeat them if you don’t learn from them. As it relates to education, it’s honestly the same. You learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of when immersing yourself in learning a new discipline.
What is your inner voice saying to you?
It’s a consistent and continual cheering and shaping me to be the best that I can be so that I can then help others.
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
Community success to me is meeting the needs of those of the population in which we serve. Every day, I am able to do this and it is very rewarding. Helping students connect with their passion and purpose so that they can be contributing citizens of society builds stronger communities.
Technology plays what role in your daily life?
At a technical college, it’s everything … particularly with the millennials. Learning the newest trends in this industry keeps our curriculum current and relevant.
What software and technology tools have made the biggest difference in you life?
Remind and the Blackboard apps have saved my life as an instructor. I am able to communicate in a timely manner to students and it allows them to feel that they are connected with faculty.
Define your personal culture.
Passionate. Purpose-driven. Collaborative. Ethical. Engaged.
How does music impact and influence you?
Music impacts my life very strongly. Lyrics are prayers, affirmations, mantras or heart cries coupled with a melody. Singing and or listening expresses things you may not have the words to say on your own.
Describe your favorite vacation spot.
Aviano, Italy. A sleepy little town that they are actually paying people to move to because it’s centuries old. I loved the endless vineyards, the turquoise water and that the city was hidden in the mountains.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
The way we see one another. We are looking through the wrong lenses oftentimes which is why I believe there is so much division. If we truly looked at our fellow man through the eyes of love, there would be a lot more accomplished and a lot less destruction.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I love collaborating. As a result, I agree to take on more tasks than I should. I am learning to streamline things so that what we do we do well.