20 Feb New Orleans has the Best “People Culture”
By Jeff O’Hara, President, AlliedPRA New Orleans:
Prior to moving to New Orleans, I moved four times in seven years. First from New York to Tallahassee, Florida, for college, then to Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans for work. Each time it took a couple of months to figure out my social network and navigate the pre-existing cliques. Living in hotels and not having any actual neighbors at first complicated this, but I accepted it as part of moving up in the company.
When I moved here (into the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel), my first day on the job I walked through the executive office floor when a complete stranger grabbed me and said, “Hey, aren’t you the new guy that just moved here?” I confirmed I was and she said, “Well, meet up at the Jimani after work and I will introduce you around.”
That night 20 people showed up to meet the “new guy” and tell me about themselves, offer advice on where to live, where to eat, and offer any manner of assistance they could possibly provide. That’s the “people culture” of New Orleans. It’s why after I moved here in 1992, I decided to stay longer than my initial 2-year plan and be intricately engaged in the community for the next 25 years and beyond.
In 1996 I left Sheraton and started my first business. The amazing community we have here enabled the success of that startup and nine others to follow in the hospitality industry. Our partners, competitors and suppliers all band together in ways that shock my colleagues in other cities.
When I travel, no city’s airport staff is as warm and welcoming as here in New Orleans, where workers view themselves as true ambassadors for the city and welcome others into our community the same way my colleagues did for me at the Jimani 25 years ago. This “people culture” of New Orleans is unique and irreplaceable. I couldn’t live, work or relate to anywhere else now.
AlliedPRA New Orleans was named to the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2016. Launched in 2002 by Jeff O’Hara, the company provides logistical support, event production, and hospitality services to corporate groups and conventions that conduct their meetings in New Orleans.