Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Janelle Coleman of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Photo provided by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Editor’s Note: This episode of cbuzz was previously recorded in winter 2019 and published at a later date.

The Columbus Chamber and Capital University have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, Columbus-based brand journalist Mikaela Hunt will speak with local business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

Whether through a major retailer or one of the top zoos in the country, Janelle Coleman’s career has been about making an impact on the community.

During the Columbus Chamber’s cbuzz podcast, Coleman discusses working her way up the ladder at L Brands, first starting as an intern in college before leaving the company as vice president of community relations for L Brands and the president of the L Brands Foundation. She also shares insight about her decision to move onto a new opportunity and become the executive vice president of External Affairs at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium in August 2019.

Starting as an intern, Coleman says she made sure to take advantage of the opportunity she was given. She made a point of not only doing everything that was asked of her, but,” being vocal – telling those around me what I wanted for my career and for my future,” she says.

It’s a mindset she brought to her post-grad career – always showing up, being prepared and asking questions, while continually communicating about what she wanted to do as the vision for her career developed.

When she realized community relations could be a career path, she naturally gravitated towards it having been raised to get involved.

At L Brands, Coleman oversaw corporate philanthropy, which included things like getting associates out to volunteer, donate or participate in events. She also oversaw grant making for L Brands, which totaled between $15-$20 million annually.

At the zoo, her community-facing role will be focused on helping Central Ohio – and beyond – understand the asset that the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is. She’s also excited about the storytelling potential.

“There’s so much to tell,” she says, whether it’s about the zoo’s conservation efforts and 10,000 plus animals that call the zoo and The Wilds home, or the human interest stories about experiences at the zoo.

During the podcast, Coleman also shares advice for young women facing adversity when looking to carve out their own career paths.

“I think one of the biggest things we do as women is when we make mistakes, we harp on them and we revisit them instead of saying you know what, I made a mistake, I’m going to learn from the mistake and I’m going to move on,” Coleman says.

It’s advice she applied to her own career. Coleman says she got tired of not moving forward. She took a step back to figure out what was holding her back, and made the decision to move on.

Tune into the full podcast to hear Coleman talk more about her work at L Brands and what it’s like to have millions of dollars to make an impact with.

Click here to listen to the full podcast featuring Janelle Coleman of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

“It is a lot, but it’s never enough and that’s the tough part of the role,” she says. “I believe that money helps but people will be the ones who solve these really big community problems.”

She also shares advice for getting involved in the community and what she hopes storytelling looks like in the future.

Never miss a cbuzz podcast! Visit the Columbus Chamber website for more great stories and advice from local business owners.

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