From her hometown in Eastland, Texas, to New York City to Austin — and many stops in between — one thing that Jordan Robinson has learned from moving around a lot is the importance of being a tourist in your own city.
That’s what’s helped her get settled into her newest home in Round Rock, where she serves as the Round Rock Chamber’s first female President and CEO.
“I would say there’s no other better profession to be in when you come to a new city,” Robinson said. “You’re kind of forced to integrate within the community and get to know the community. Just being able to meet leaders who have been here for a long time and who helped really shape Round Rock to be the community it is today, as well as meeting other newcomers and learning why they came to Round Rock, why they selected this place of all the many places they could choose from, it builds perspective and it builds relationships.”
Robinson moved to Round Rock two years ago to handle economic development for the Chamber. While she had lived in Austin before, she admitted that she never spent much time in the metro’s second-largest city. So she started exploring as much as she could, whether it was dining at restaurants, going to art galleries, going to the movies, or just trying something new.
What she found was a sense of community unlike anywhere she’s lived before. She spends weekends and evenings in the historic downtown at locally owned businesses she says are always bustling. Her other favorite spot is Old Settlers Park, where she enjoying the trails.
“It’s not uncommon to be walking down the street and run into someone you know,” she said. “The people are extremely friendly and extremely welcoming. So you do really have many of those amenities of a large city, and easy access to those amenities, while also having a sense of friendliness and welcomeness.”
About a year ago, she officially took over as the head of the Chamber. It’s come at a critical time in the city, which has developed into a bustling economy as the headquarters home of Dell Technologies Inc., Ayro Inc. and Emerson Automation Solutions. Though the Chamber has attracted and enticed expansions from companies such as Valex Corp. and Sabey Data Centers, Robinson admitted that her first year at the helm has been a challenge.
“Being a young female in a newer community in an industry that’s typically not led by a person like me was definitely a fear and worry of mine,” Robinson said. “But it was a challenge I feel really proud of. I stepped into this and hopefully I’ve been able to pave a path for other young women who want to step into community leadership and similar roles.”
She’s aiming to help Round Rock at this inflection point. They have to start building in a smart way, whether it’s going vertically, or addressing housing affordability by providing a diversity of housing options outside of single-family homes. The Chamber is tasked with recruiting and growing companies that pay good wages and are good corporate and civic partners, while retaining their business-friendly reputation.
“Our recruitment strategy has definitely altered over the years as Round Rock is growing to make sure that the companies that we are bringing here match the profiles of the community,” Robinson said.
What is your favorite place to eat in the Austin metro? Hands down, Uchi. We’ll continue to work to get an Uchi expansion to Round Rock.
Would you say you are an advice giver or an advice seeker? I really think I’m an advice seeker. I’m just completing my first year, and so while I’m always gonna give advice to staff, or people that ask for it, being in this role, it’s a heavy lift on my shoulders and a new role. There’s so many people that have helped shape this community that I really do try to always make sure that I’m seeking advice from those who can just help elevate me and elevate the organization.
Have you faced any challenges as a young female leader than others don’t face? I would say that it’s something that over the years, women leaders are becoming more aware of and how to face some of those potential obstacles. I would say the biggest challenge was just me stepping into a new position after having only been in Round Rock for a short amount of time. But I would say this community is much more diverse than I think people might realize … I felt very supported and lifted up by other women leaders in Round Rock in the Greater Austin area. But a lot of the men leaders really embraced this change and wanted to make sure that I was successful and that our team was successful. So there was a lot of support this past year.
What is the most-influential book you’ve read? It was a first book that I read as I was becoming a manager more than a decade ago. It was ‘First, Break All the Rules.’ It’s a leadership book, and it just kind of helped shape me as I stepped into one of my very first management roles more than 10 years ago. That was one that I still remember, like taking things to heart that I tried to implement in my leadership style, as I’m managing the team here.
If you could pick any celebrity to be your next-door neighbor, who would it be? This is a weird one, but I’m obsessed with Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights. He lives in Dripping Springs, so if he wanted to move over to Round Rock … I love that [show] and a lot of it was actually filmed in this area. But he just seems like that good next-door neighbor that if something were to go wrong, he would come over and help.
If you could change one thing about the Austin metro, what would it be? I-35. If we could figure out how to fix I-35, I think we would be in good shape.”
Where did you go for your last vacation? I went to Oaxaca and Mexico City. I loved it. During COVID, what little travel was available, there was a lot of beach vacations and wedding vacations and beaches over time. So I loved going to a cultural location and learning history of the city, eating amazing food. I would highly recommend and I’m happy to share my itinerary.
Title: President and CEO, Round Rock Chamber
Education: Bachelor’s degree, public relations and marketing, Baylor University
Hometown: Eastland, Texas
Family: Boyfriend, Sylvester; Dogs, Toby the Maltipoo and Koda the Aussiedoodle
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