A CLOSER LOOK: Anne Drannen
An exclusive Q&A with a local leader
Friday, March 30, 2012 7:00 AM
• Hometown: Altoona
• Education: Drannen received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Iowa State University
• Age: 45
• Family: Drannen has two children: Jackson, 14, and Ashley, 12. She is also in the midst of planning her wedding to her fiancé, Tim Small.
Anne Drannen said working in hospitality is in her blood. She has worked in a variety of jobs over the years, earning a living as a waitress, a bartender, a line cook, a chef and an event planner, and also as an interior designer. Before working for Orchestrate Management, Drannen owned a tearoom in Boone, helped open the Clay County Regional Events Center in Spencer and worked with Winefest Des Moines. She now plans association meetings for the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames and the Hilton Garden Inn in Johnston.
What’s a normal day like for you?
It’s all over the place. A lot of my time is spent meeting with clients out and about. You know, I’ll take them to lunch to talk and determine if we can meet their needs. My days and weeks are usually split between properties. I do a lot of site tours, that kind of thing. Obviously there’s contract negotiation, and then I’ll pass it over to the catering managers, who then handle the details. We put on everything under the sun here. I don’t handle weddings, but I usually help with conferences, a two- or three-day event of some kind.
What is it about the hospitality industry that made you stick with it for so long?
I adore what I do. I get to meet people from all ranges of life. And I truly want to help people have a better day. I know that sounds cheesy. But I love the little details, the back-and-forth. And again, you get to meet all kinds of people, too, from every kind of industry, from all over the world. It’s something that’s in your blood. My mom was a wonderful cook and was a judge for the Iowa State Fair for 30 years. So there’s something about the food industry that gets in your blood. It’s a creative outlet.
So what was it like being a line cook?
I learned so much from so many people. You learn to think on your feet; you learn to be creative. You have to work hard. It obviously gives you a new respect for what goes on in a kitchen and how in-depth it is. It gives me great insight here. Say we’re putting on a banquet – just knowing how much work it is to get food to come out hot, to get food to come out that tastes good, for it all to look the same. It’s hard to please 350 people.
What was your involvement with Winefest?
I really did some of everything. I volunteered until a few years ago when I was an assistant to Kit Curran (the former executive director). When I volunteered, I did the décor side of things. When I was actually working as a paid person, I did everything from talking to vendors, to making sure people who ordered tickets actually had their tickets, to talking to board members. That’s such a wonderful event.
Do you have any hobbies?
Well, I will be planning my own wedding. We don’t have a date set yet. It just happened not too long ago, so we’re still kind of spinning.
I’m a geek – I’m in a book club. We meet once a month. It’s a group of women who could rule the world. We’ve got professors, a stay-at-home mom, an attorney. Members are just all over the board. It’s a cool, cool group of women.
I’m also a runner. We’re training for the Tough Mudder, which is in Minneapolis. It’s crazy – 25 obstacles designed by Special Forces; my fiancé is former military. I’ve done Dam to Dam a few times, Living History Farms (a cross-country race), all kinds of little 5Ks, but Tough Mudder will be a challenge.
I like to do out-there stuff. I took my kids dog sledding last Christmas up in Eli, Minn., by the border, and we just got back from zip lining over spring break. There’s just something about trying new things. I love to travel, too, but it’s hard to find the time with two kids who are very involved with activities. I’ve led a pretty colorful life and had a lot of opportunity to travel. I was on the dance team when I was at Iowa State. It opened a lot of doors and gave me a taste for travel; we got to travel to Tokyo and a lot of away games. I don’t care if it’s in Iowa; I just like to look at other places.
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