Alumna leads Georgia Dome through incredible week
By Allen Wallace, WALLACJ7@mailbox.sc.edu
Millions of football fans watched from all over the world Jan. 15 as Dallas Green Bay battled in a nerve-wracking playoff game. A field goal on the final play meant celebration for the Packers and their fans, and despair for the Cowboys’ side. For University of South Carolina alumna Tamlyn Horne, it meant it was time to go to work.
Horne is the event coordinator at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta arena that is home to the NFL’s Falcons, who hosted the NFC Championship as a result of the Green Bay win. That gave the Dome one more football game. A nationally televised event in a building capable of welcoming 80,000 people is a huge task, but not the biggest Horne has handled.
The skills learned in her 18 months of work at the Dome and before were put to the test in the final week of 2016 and the first week of 2017. The facility hosted the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, the Falcons’ last regular season home on New Year’s Day, and Passion Conference (a religious gathering) Jan. 2-4. Five days. Five crowds of at least 50,000 people. One woman, leading a team, made it all go off without a hitch.
“This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I loved it,” Horne says. “It’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of people.” Fully explaining all that went into those five days might take more than five days. The list included moving huge crowds in and out, setting up for events as varied as the football games and an in-the-round concert, moving equipment, making sure lighting and sound were ready, and on and on and on. As she has throughout her career, Horne got it done, leading her team, working beside them and supporting them.
“The reason I’ve done so well in my career is that I’m willing to do the grunt work,” Horne says, referring to work that included carrying garbage bags at 2 a.m. after one of the recent events. She is a leader who is not afraid to get her hands dirty, a lesson she learned beginning in her days at the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, where she earned a B.S. and M.S. in Sport and Entertainment Management.
During her time at USC, Horne worked at The Masters, at the London Olympics, for ESPN, for the Kansas City Chiefs, and as a graduate assistant with the university. She says her experience in the classroom and out during her years in college helped shape her into a success, and advised current and future students to take advantage of every opportunity.
“Be willing to work for free and use the resources you have around you,” she said. “Ask questions. I ask my boss a million questions because I can. Don’t be afraid to be a bother… You’re not going to succeed unless you put yourself out there and get noticed.”
Horne has gotten noticed. She was hired for her first post-college job by the Walt Disney Co., then spent a year working for the Orlando Magic before moving to the Georgia Dome, where she said she has learned lessons that will help her for the rest of her life, many from her boss, Ken Jefferson, who has been at the Dome since it opened in 1992.
“Learning under him for the last year and a half has been so important,” she says. “I’ve grown from that experience.” With the Dome closing this year to make way for a new facility, Horne is considering her next career step, but also taking time to reflect on and enjoy the memories of her time in Atlanta so far.
Horne has kept in touch with her professors since finishing her master’s in 2014, and visits her alma mater whenever she can. “It’s like coming home, walking into those offices,” she says. The HRSM professors and staff “were all fantastic.” She even laughs now at the memory of crying after a rough day in Tom Regan’s finance class.
“I’m very proud to have Carolina as my alma mater,” Horne says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”
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