The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, always forward-looking to how it conducts its business, announced the creation of a new initiative called the Innovation Team. As a division of the People Services Department, the Innovation Team will focus on developing creative approaches to optimize, streamline, and transform convention center operations to assist the venue in delivering on its mission to advance innovation in its organization.
The Convention Center also named new leadership positions for the Innovation Team, promoting Tim Tumminello to Senior Director of People Services & Innovation, and Kelli Zohar-Davis to Assistant Director of Talent Development & Innovation. The Convention Center will also add an Innovation Manager to the team in the near future.
In July 2021, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center engaged local consulting firm trepwise to enhance and improve its already award-winning employee culture. Through inclusive employee engagement and collaborative ideation, trepwise led Center employees through a design process to create a culture that rewards creativity, accountability, and risk-taking. That work resulted in what the Convention Center called the “Innovation Lab” – an employee-owned project where staff members held town hall meetings and workshops about how to best move their workplace into the future. Convention Center leadership took the feedback from the Innovation Lab and used it to pinpoint the need for the creation of an innovation-focused division within the ranks of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
“Without the valuable insight garnered from the Innovation Lab from our employees, who we consider internal customers in the success of our business, we may have never considered creating a team like this,” said Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President. “We believe that consistent iteration of innovative concepts will improve customer satisfaction and will support our vision of being a leading-edge organization.”
Tumminello joined the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 2002 and most recently served as the Director of People Services. Over the course of his career, he has dedicated himself to creating cultures that provide continuous growth by empowering and motivating employees to realize their full potential and bring their best to the job. Tumminello is a results-focused leader who delivers talent acquisition, retention, and talent development solutions that has helped the Convention Center harness the full power of one of their most valuable assets – its people.
Before assuming her role as the Assistant Director of Talent Development & Innovation, Zohar-Davis honed her skills as a high school teacher and university lecturer. She then joined the hospitality industry where she garnered an extensive background training professionals in the food service sector. She developed training programs and provided guidance on operating standards and systems for some of the most popular fast food and fast casual restaurants in America, such as Sonic Drive-Ins, Chili’s Bar and Grill, and McDonalds. Zohar-Davis joined the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 2010 as the Talent Development Manager where she developed employee training programs and managed culture initiatives like the Innovation Lab. She is currently the President of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association for Talent Development.
“This is an exciting, first-of-its-kind initiative focused on getting Convention Center employees involved in the decision-making process of some of the most major aspects of our business,” Tumminello, said. “Kelli and I are looking forward to continuing to foster our award-winning employee culture with innovative approaches to the unique challenges that businesses of our size face on a daily basis.”