Young Professional of the Month: Robert Cooks

Santa Maria Connect Young Professionals is a Young Professionals program run by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. Each month, the program will showcase a local young professional. This month's showcase is Robert Cooks, Sales Director for the Best Western Plus Big America Hotel.

Talk a bit about yourself. What do you do professionally and what are your hobbies?

My name is Robert Cooks and I am the Sales Director for the Best Western Plus Big America Hotel. I enjoy doing anything outdoors but if you're looking for me in my free time you can catch me running, hiking, cycling, mountain biking or exploring someplace new while working up a sweat! I also enjoy listening to all types of music, reading and drinking wine.

Biggest challenges/triumphs during the pandemic?

The greatest challenge during the pandemic I would have to say would be being torn between wanting to increase numbers and sales while trying to maintain a level of comfortability/safety for staff and guests. Ensuring people that we are taking the right steps to ensure their safety while still making sure our doors remain open. As far as triumphs are concerned, I would have to say the biggest one would be managing to stay open, stay in business while keeping everyone safe. Also, find new and creative ways to maintain some semblance of normalcy in regards to our amenities like breakfast.

How are you involved in the community outside of your job?

Outside of my job I am also on the Board of Directors for the Guadalupe Dunes Center, and I always enjoy giving back in other ways when an opportunity arises.

Why would you encourage other young professionals to get involved/give back to their local community?

I try to get other young professionals involved for the reason above, we grew up here in this nurturing community so it only makes sense for us to give back and nurture it. In order to keep our community together, thriving and growing, we all need to do our part to make sure that it continues on the path that was laid down before us.

What is your favorite thing about Santa Maria?

My favorite thing about Santa Maria is the family feeling that you get from everyone while you're here, strangers will treat you like family and make you feel welcome no matter who you are or where you are from. There has always been a strong sense of community and a willingness to give back and every opportunity as well.

I think that if we all maintain those basic standards that the community was built on while continuing to grow and educate ourselves, I don't see how we can't make Santa Maria Valley the best place to live!

If you are interested in Santa Maria Connect or have a suggestion for a Young Professional of the Month feature, email Alex Castillo at alex@santamaria.com.