September 02, 2014

Steve Burrell is someone who likes to rebuild or create things which his career in operations has given him plenty of opportunities to do. Currently serving as director of operations and customer service at NASCAR Hall of Fame, Burrell oversees day-to-day, front-of-house logistics including customer service, ticketing, memberships, sales, staff training and interactive elements.

Prior to joining the NASCAR Hall of Fame five years ago, the South Carolina native worked for 15 years at Carowinds in the loss prevention and operations department. The Leadership Charlotte graduate lives in Charlotte with his wife, Wendi and three children, Sydney, Austin and Riley Mae.

Q&A with Steve:

What is the best lesson from college that still applies to your job? Perseverance pays off.

What is the best career advice you ever received? As you roll your sleeves up and go to work, do so with your head on a swivel. The beauty of life is appreciation of the journey. Keeping your head down while plowing forward will keep you from seeing and enjoying the opportunities.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Personally, my family and the role they are playing in the lives of others. Professionally, graduating from Leadership Charlotte (Class of 35) and the opportunities it has taught me and has me focused toward giving back.

What is the insider secret to your job? A great team of supporting staff who enjoy being around one another. The operations team’s “family” culture creates the smiles and attitude needed daily.

What is the best part of working at NASCAR Hall of Fame? Being around this much history and sharing it with fans (and soon-to-be fans) gives the opportunity to exceed customer expectations. It’s great to receive feedback from someone who says their visit well exceeded their expectations.

Why did you choose your career path? My professional “profile” says that I am an executor who likes to create, fix and/or rebuild. My path in the operations field has given me that opportunity numerous times which I can look back on and enjoy the successes. Doing this in the entertainment/hospitality arena gives me the opportunity to build and work with people.

What has been your best mistake? Leaving the University of South Carolina (USC) after one semester. I transferred to a smaller school, Erskine College, after a mediocre first semester feeling that I needed a smaller environment. After being there for three days, I realized the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Erskine is a great school but USC never looked so good the following week when I returned.

What is the best part of working with JHE? From planning to execution, the JHE team shows a professional standard worth touting.

What has most impressed you about JHE? The team’s organization and professionalism. Every aspect of their communication down to the last note is complete and thorough.

What is your best tip for success? Enjoy what you do and practice humility.   

What is your personal definition of success? Helping and seeing others grow and develop. My intentions were to become a teacher so I have a passion to see people learn. I try and use my experience in teaching situations where the team around me can benefit and learn from each other. They in turn will indirectly help others.

Things you might not know about Steve…

I’m inspired by… my wife, Wendi. She is a fighter who faces adversity head-on while not letting things slow her down. She is an inspiration who helps others first.

My runner-up career was… teaching. Tomorrow is up to the youth so we need to do our part. I still volunteer coach/teach in various aspects. 

I start my day by… reading the Bible. 

My favorite apps are… the weather and South Carolina Gamecocks apps. I was “forced” to be a weather-watcher in my previous job so it has naturally stuck with me. The Gamecocks… what can I say!

My ultimate stress reliever is… my children. They inspire me and make me laugh. They each have distinctive personalities ranging from independence, sassiness and southern charm. 

On my iPod playlist right now is… Coldplay and Darius Rucker.

My biggest pet peeve is… the American flag flown incorrectly. It drives the heck out of me to see OUR flag not flown properly or torn/weathered. 

The one person I’ve always wanted to meet is… Jesus Christ (and I will). He sacrificed himself for me. Greatest teacher of all time.

My family is… awesome!! I confess they dominate most of my conversations.   

I spend my weekends… normally on a ball field watching the children in either sports or band performances.

My favorite sport is… college football. Passion (on and off the field) fueled by rivalry. And if you’re a Gamecock, why wouldn’t it be??!!

My most recent splurge was… a guitar.

My favorite vacation yet was to… Tybee Island where my wife and I were married. 

My favorite movie is… Saving Private Ryan.

The best concert I’ve ever seen is… it sounds cheesy, but Michael Buble. It’s where I proposed to my wife (afterward).

Steve Burrell, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Leadership Charlotte