Name: Race Roberts
Title: Sales Manager
Organization: Discover Dunwoody
Location: Dunwoody, Georgia
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Education: Georgia Southern University, degree in recreation with an emphasis on tourism and community leisure
• Assistant front desk manager, Emory Conference Center Hotel
• Sales manager at Discover Dunwoody
Race Roberts is Atlanta-born and -raised, a trait so uncommon that residents call these locals unicorns. If having that title implies powers of mythical proportions, well, Roberts doesn’t subscribe to that, though he will admit to having to work hospitality miracles over the course of his career. But, he said, it’s less about miracle working and more about rolling up your shirtsleeves.
“I started off washing dishes as an intern, so the first day I’m there at 8 in the morning washing dishes and helping to clean the kitchen,” said Roberts. “When I moved on to hotels and had quiet moments at the front desk, I’d go back and see how I could help out in food-and-beverage because they’re always busy.”
With the encouragement of his family, Roberts got into a culinary program in high school. He initially considered going to Johnson and Wales to be a chef, loving the fast pace of the kitchen and the creativity it allowed him but knew ultimately his family life would suffer because of the long hours. He opted for a degree at Georgia Southern University, where he majored in recreation with an emphasis in tourism and community leisure services and a minor in hotel management. The internship required for his degree gave him weeklong rotations through every role on the food-and-beverage team at the Emory Conference Center Hotel.
“The hotel invested a lot in their internship program; I learned a lot, and they did a fantastic job of educating and preparing me,” said Roberts. “It was incredible. I couldn’t have been more prepared for a transition from the school to the workforce. I went from doing dishes to doing inventory, and I worked as a prep cook, a line cook; I was a server, I learned how menus are created and how to work with the conference salespeople and what goes into making meetings. They ended up offering me a job before I even finished my internship.”
At each stage of his career, Roberts has looked at how he can level up by learning a new skill. After completing a hotel management training program, he took a position as the Emory Conference Center Hotel’s assistant front desk manager.
“I thought, ‘This will be another great place to develop and grow,’” said Roberts. “I had gotten to a point where if you’re in a situation and you need something done, you jump in and do it. I wasn’t going to ask someone who I manage to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
Around the time Roberts was starting to feel the burn of long double shifts and time away from his then-fiancée, he accepted.
That was five years ago, and since then, Roberts’ circle has only expanded. But his work ethic hasn’t changed — he’s still willing to get the job done and do tasks with determination and gusto. In an era when so many positions remain vacant as the economy is still reeling from the pandemic, that’s a trait that makes Roberts a unicorn, indeed.
Tips from Race Roberts
• Don’t be afraid of the work. If you want to move your career forward or grow as a person, embrace the work needed to accomplish your goal.
• For CVBs: Work with your neighboring CVBs. If there is a group that cannot fit in my market but could fit in one of my neighbors’, I give the planner their contact information.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.