Shannon Kendrick ’12 is enthusiastic about her new job of bringing businesses and jobs to a place she loves. The Regent University School of Business & Leadership (SBL) graduate is senior vice president of marketing, communications and operations at the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance in southeastern Virginia. She says her experience working for U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell ’90 (SBL) prepared her to make a difference in her new role.
“My previous experience cultivated my passion for seeing people’s lives improved,” said Kendrick. “We aim to bring jobs and opportunities to the region by working with economic development stakeholders across 11 cities and counties. We want to bring business expansion and help Hampton Roads diversify its industry offerings to see its full economic potential.”
The Alliance is leading the way in this endeavor by working with its partners to develop methods to attract high-wage job industries from many different fields. Kendrick brings her training from Regent’s MBA program and her experience running the congressman’s district operations.
“My Regent education wasn’t just about the classroom; it was about an entire world experience. I loved learning from my professors. They were exceptional and brought the world to the class, requiring me to be creative, which reshaped my way of thinking,” she explained, pointing to the example of a class assignment to identify a commercially viable industry for the local area. Kendrick explored offshore wind and wave energy solutions, making connections with a researcher who she worked with several years later as part of her role with the congressman.
“I carried the “out of the box” way of thinking throughout my service to the congressman and our district. I was always determined to find a way to resolve challenges. I believe that in almost everything there’s a solution, and it depends on your level of creativity and resourcefulness.”
Regent provided Kendrick with education to tackle her new role, and also a path to success. She originally planned to attend law school, but realized her inner entrepreneurial spirit and signed up for the MBA. While working for Regent’s Robertson School of Government, she attended an on-campus event where she met Rigell, who suggested she work on his campaign. Once elected, Rigell encouraged her to apply for the last open position on his congressional team – district director. She applied, competed and was selected.
“I made a lot of good connections, and gained a reputation for working hard, being active in the community and helping people,” said Kendrick. “They say I was everywhere. Whatever the issue, I made sure the congressman was aware. I had the honor of leading one of the best congressional district teams in the nation! Our team solved problems and cared for our constituents with passion.
“I enjoyed getting to know all of our local, state and federal leaders while doing my job. I built real friendships and got to know so many people in this region. When I think about the friends I gained during this period in my life, I am overwhelmed with emotion. I have no relatives in this state, but God saw fit to bless me with a family of friends and an incredible network of professionals. ”
When Rigell announced plans to retire at the end of his current term, Kendrick says these friends and connections begged her to stay in Hampton Roads. Leaders came to her and asked her about her interests, passions and skills. Her reputation and networking helped her land the new job with the Alliance.
“Virginia is a great place to do business,” said Kendrick. “We have a governor right now who is pro-business. The Alliance and its partners make it very advantageous for companies to come here. We go above and beyond to make this place their home.”