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25 Faces of CLT

Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long - 2400

Name: Jennifer Long

Employer: City of Charlotte/Aviation

What is your job title? Terminal Concessions Manager

How long have you worked at CLT? I have worked for the Aviation Department for 18 years. However, I have worked at CLT for 24 years.

What originally attracted you to working at CLT?
I grew up five minutes from the airport. While in high school, I got a part-time job in the terminal. Ironically, it was working in a concession. Fast forward five years to 2001, my senior year of college, I began serving as an intern in the Aviation Department’s Public Affairs division. I loved working in the airport environment, and I thought the airport would be a great fit for an internship, considering there are hundreds and hundreds of career choices within an airport.

Following my internship in 2001, I accepted a full-time position in the Public Affairs division. What started as a part-time job in a concession as a teenager, has turned into an amazing career overseeing the Concessions Program at the airport. I have truly come full circle! Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the only place I have ever worked my entire life.

Describe your typical work day. The best part of my job is that there is no typical workday. No two days are the same. Sure, there are certain functions and responsibilities that must occur day-to-day, but on the other hand, each day brings a new challenge or a new success. I love working in the heart of the airport … the passenger terminal. When I think of an airport, it’s the hustle and bustle of the terminal that comes to mind.

With the nature of my job, serving as the Terminal Concessions Manager, my office is located inside the terminal. My days are normally spent with some office/desk time, but also a lot of time out and about in the terminal. One day, I might be checking out a new concession concept or a newly renovated venue inside the terminal. Another day, I might be negotiating contract terms with a potential new tenant.

What do you like most about working at CLT?
Put simply … it’s FUN! Sometimes I feel guilty when I speak to other people about their jobs. I often hear them voice the common negative sentiments about a job. Things like feeling over worked, under appreciated and a lack of work-life balance. Although I do think it’s normal to have those feelings within most work environments, what’s more unusual is to hear people express how much they enjoy their job and that it makes them happy. I truly think CLT is unique in that people genuinely like their jobs. Our employees seem to really feel valued. Nothing motivates an employee more than simple appreciation!

What daily attitude/saying/motto do you bring to your job?
“Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface, but paddle like hell underneath.”

Do you have any fun memories or moments/stories from your time at CLT that you would like to share?
During my time here, I have experienced and witnessed so much growth. Moments such as Concourse E opening in 2002, countless inaugural air service events, the third parallel runway opening and more. There are too many fun stories to tell, but one story comes to mind related to the third parallel runway. I have never worked in Airport Operations, but I have always been fascinated with their jobs and the airfield. When you are in a vehicle on the airfield amongst a sea of giant airplanes, you feel so small. It’s kind of scary. Everywhere is so flat and every move you make is critical and often dictated by the FAA.

Although I personally do not drive on the airfield (are you kidding?), I always enjoy going there. Prior to the runway opening, I got to hop in the passenger seat of an airport vehicle for a runway inspection. Just listening to the driver talk to the FAA control tower to receive permission to enter specific areas of the airfield, followed by full blown pedal to the metal speeds going down the runway, I felt super cool in that moment.

What keeps you at CLT?
It’s a combination of the people, the environment, the work and experiences.

What makes the City of Charlotte a special place to live/work?
I am a native Charlottean, born and raised here. I love my city! Geographically speaking, the city is sandwiched in between the coast and the mountains; and the weather is nice. I also find the people to be down to Earth.

What is the best advice you’ve gotten from someone since starting work at CLT?
Develop and foster relationships with people and treat everyone as your equal.

If you could hop on a plane and fly anywhere, where would you fly and why?
Although the world has so many amazing places and sights to see, there is still so much for me to see in the U.S. I would love to go to Yellowstone National Park with my family. Just all the amazing things to do and experience like the canyons and rivers, wildlife, hot springs … pure mother nature at its best.