HFA Q&A – Joe Altenau20 March, 2019
HFA Q&A – Joe Altenau
HomeField Alliance’s ongoing content feature lets members and others get to know LGBTQ professionals in sports and entertainment. If you would like to participate, or have a suggestion for someone we should interview, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up is HomeField Alliance member Joe Altenau, Director of Event Operations for the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and the team’s home venue, Newark’s Prudential Center. Joe is a graduate of The George Washington University with over a decade of sports and events experience. You can learn more about him in his Outsports profile, as well as in his replies below:
1) What would you like HFA members to know about you that they couldn’t learn from your LinkedIn profile?
I love to run. It’s one of the things that helps me relieve stress and clears my head. In addition, many of my closest friendships have developed while running.
2) What is the best aspect of your current role?
Having the ability to work with every department within the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment portfolio (New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, Philadelphia 76ers). My coworkers are amazing, and I’ll go from a logistics meeting with our operations department to a brainstorm with our marketing department to an event strategy session with our ticket sales team.
3) What is the biggest challenge you face in that role?
Every day there are a million balls in the air that need to be juggled and I need to figure out how to make sure none of them are dropped. I rely heavily on the entire event team to make sure all the internal departments, as well as the promoters and clients who come through the building, are cared for.
4) What impact, if any, has your LGBTQ status had on your career, either positive or negative?
Being a member of the LGBTQ community has allowed me to connect with some incredible leaders in the sports and entertainment industry. By being a member of HFA and other LGBTQ sports-oriented organizations, I’ve met a ton of incredible people who have helped me personally and professionally. My network has grown immensely and I’m incredibly thankful for the sports/events LGBTQ community.
5) What is one thing the sports & entertainment industry can do to be more welcoming to LGBTQ employees?
The more advocacy that organizations can do for the LGBTQ community the better! It’s more than just hosting Pride nights and participating in Pride marches; to be truly meaningful there must be yearlong engagement to support causes and events that are important to the LGBTQ community. With the NJ Devils/Prudential Center we have organizations in the community that we work with throughout the year and have formed meaningful partnerships.
6)What advice would you give to LGBTQ sports & entertainment professionals who are early in their careers?
Be yourself. At times it may seem easier to conceal who you really are, but it’s much more rewarding to have truly engaging conversations with the people you spend the majority of your day with.
7) Who do you look up to? (It doesn’t have to be someone you know.)
My parents. They are two of the most incredible people in my life and have always been there for me. I can’t begin to calculate how much I’ve learned from them over the years. My mom has an incredible business acumen and has passed on amazing advice throughout my career. In the event world there are countless times where plans change and we’ll need to make a round peg fit in a square hole. My dad taught me everything I know about how to be resourceful on projects and this comes in handy virtually every day.
8) What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?
Ask a lot of questions. When you’re starting out ask senior staff questions about their career path and what their personal accomplishments have been. I had one boss who was well known for asking tons of questions in meetings. Even when I thought I was fully prepared he would always ask questions I didn’t have the answers to. He taught me to go the extra mile and become an expert on the subject material in every project I work on, which has made me a stronger event and project manager.
9) What is your favorite thing to do to decompress away from work?
Run, rest, relax with friends. Running is a fantastic morning release that clears my head and prepares me for the day. Resting while watching TV at night allows me to recharge for the next day. Relaxing with my friends helps take my mind off work, allows me to let my guard down and enjoy a night out.
10) What are you currently reading?
A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. It’s a great lesson on staying true to your beliefs, speaking up even when what you have to say may not be the most popular opinion and never backing down.