5 Questions with Director of Client Services, Penny Fender
What does your current job responsibilities include?
Honestly, I do a little bit of everything. I handle the media measurement activities for all SHR partners and drivers. I provide support to all True Speed account supervisors and am the support person specifically tied to the No. 14 team and driver Tony Stewart which means I fill in on weekends, help create media materials, etc. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation hired us for PR support in 2014 and I have been managing that program since day one. I am also pretty involved in business development – procuring and then executing new opportunities.
How did you get started in the racing industry?
I was in graduate school near Nashville, Tennessee. One of my part-time jobs was contract production work with World Sports Enterprises, then producer for races on the old TNN (The Nashville Network). I was working one of the races and met Steve Byrnes. He was on-air talent for TNN broadcasts and his wife, Karen Goins-Byrnes, owned a public relations agency in Charlotte, North Carolina. He gave me her contact information. I sent my resume to her and three months later she hired me to work on the Phillips 66 Racing program with Elliott Sadler. And the rest is history.
Who are some of the clients you have worked with?
I started out managing the PR and hospitality program on the Phillips 66 Racing program working with Elliott Sadler and then Todd Bodine. In 2001 I was moved to the UPS Racing program with driver Dale Jarrett and worked with him until he retired in 2008. After that I took on a different role at the company where I worked so I ended up doing a little bit of something with all of our clients including M&Ms, Budweiser, The Home Depot, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano. Since moving to True Speed I’ve worked a little bit with each of the SHR stable of drivers and other clients currently on the True Speed roster.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting in the sport?
I would tell someone to not take things personally, to sort of eliminate emotion. This business requires a lot of time on the road which equates to more time at work than at home. I think because of that it’s very easy to let things that don’t go as planned affect you in a very personal way. At the end of the day, it’s a job and it’s key to separate personal feelings or emotions from the daily tasks associated with the work.
What is one of the best things you have been able to do working in the sport?
I have to say being able to attend the Hall of Fame induction for Dale Jarrett. I worked with him for eight years so we became friends. It was very exciting to see him honored in that way and to be able to be there to watch it in person.