Tammy Weinbaum, Sr. VP of American Express, discusses her first drop as a water girl at a deli in Florida, as well as her first job as a proofreader with American Express.
Title: Senior Vice President and General Manager
Company: American Express
Describe your very first job and what you learned from it.
I was a water girl at a deli in Florida. My job was to make sure that as soon as customers were seated, their water glasses were filled; and when they were finished eating, their tables were cleared as quickly as possible. The major lesson I learned from this job was to listen to the customer. Some would want to talk and would want you to learn about them. Others would engage me only when they wanted to do so. I learned to take my cues from the customer.
Describe your first job in your industry.
My first job in the industry was at American Express, where I’m still employed today. My first role was as a customer service clerk, which was proofreading. My job was to read the manual paragraph that the customer service representatives had typed. I would circle grammatical errors and send it back to them. I was spellcheck before it existed.
What were your salaries (in your first job and first industry job)?
My salary as a water girl was $2.10 per hour plus tips, so providing excellent customer service was very important to me. My first salary at American Express, my first industry job, was $13,500 annually.
Who is your biggest mentor?
My parents, David and Cookie. They gave me one of the greatest gifts that has carried me through personally and professionally, and that’s the confidence to believe that I could do anything that I wanted. My dad was always a hard worker, working two jobs. My mom stayed home taking care of me and my sisters, later working full-time. They made major sacrifices for us that we didn’t obviously realize until we were adults. I appreciate the self-confidence and work ethic that they helped instill in me at a young age.
What advice would you give to a person entering your industry?
As someone in the service industry, don’t ever lose sight of who your customers are.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
One of the things I love about my job is being able to give back to the community. If I weren’t doing this job, I’d be serving others through a role in community service.