Fast cars, exciting events, and sometimes more snow than she’d like: it’s all part of the cool job that Jennifer Cooper does. She’s the manager of the Porsche Driving Experience, a series of events where participants can learn to drive on a racetrack, master winter driving skills on the Porsche Camp4 snow event, or spend a few days on scenic drives to luxury accommodations.
What’s your role at Porsche Canada?
Porsche Driving is a department within Porsche globally, and I manage all of the experiences in Canada. They’re road drives combined with unique experiences, such as off-road and track experiences. They’re open to everyone, not just Porsche owners.
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What’s involved in that?
It’s all brainstorming when we’re planning. There are a lot of unique experiences in Canada, and so what would our customers want to do? A lot of effort goes into planning these events. I can have a staff of 15 to 20 people plus a dozen vendors. Some of our long-term planning is even looking at the more out-there adventures, (perhaps) in the Yukon or Northwest Territories. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How do you find all these great places?
It’s often talking to local people. When we came up with a tour in Vancouver, a manager at a hotel said, “Have you driven this route between Vernon and Whistler?” She gave me a map and it was an amazing road. In Eastern Canada, we were looking for a new drive route, and a guy at the local racetrack said he knew the roads the motorcycles use. The challenge is that the road has to make sense. You need great driving roads, but they have to lead to quality accommodations.
How did you end up here?
I’ve always been fascinated with cars, and when it was time to go to post-secondary, I found out about the automotive course at Georgian College. I started in the general business course but then changed programs to the automotive marketing program. I graduated and had an entry-level job at Nissan doing technical publications. Then I was a product planner for Infiniti, and I was headhunted to join Porsche in 2008. I was responsible for dealer marketing for several years, and then a colleague got the Porsche Driving Experience off the ground. When he returned to Germany, I took over the national driving event.
With so much to plan, does it always go smoothly?
If something goes wrong on an event and the participant is none the wiser, then everything’s perfect. It’s all quick decisions and the ability to adapt to changing conditions with a smile on your face. I’ve had people comment that they can tell I love my job. There’s a difference between being present at an event and being engaged at an event.
What’s the key to making it all happen?
I have organizational skills and the ability to multi-task. At any given time, I’m juggling three to four events, from two months from now to 16 months away. Events have long lead times, so you know where you want to be in a year, because your hotels and facilities are booking far in advance.
And the winter events?
I’m originally from Timmins, and I left to get away from the winter. Then I found myself sitting in a snowbank in Camp4 saying, “How did I get here?” But I have a great time with our participants, and that makes the hard work and long hours worth it.