Lorinda Cruikshank: Inspired by Curiosity and Learning

Lorinda Cruikshank
Ask Lorinda Cruikshank what it’s like to work at the Department of Economic Development’s Division of Tourism, and she begins by describing the Division’s mission, “Tourism is responsible for marketing Missouri, and marketing Missouri is all about telling stories. We have a great story to tell! I have been at the Division for 19 years and I am still learning new things about Missouri. My job is analysis and reporting of how effectively we are telling Missouri’s story!!

Lorinda is a Senior Marketing Research Analyst with the Division. She is responsible for collecting and analyzing tourism and travel data such as visitation reports, Google analytics, industry forecasts and trends. The reports are used by the Division and tourism industry partners throughout the state to make marketing decisions.

Research comes naturally to Lorinda because she finds learning inspirational. “Curiosity really drives me. I enjoy being exposed to new things. In my research, I have an opportunity to learn every day. When I was growing up, Mom taught me learning was important and to always do my best! So I grew up believing in the importance of learning and being a perfectionist.”

According to her supervisor Dee Ann McKinney, Lorinda’s role at the Division is essential. Dee Ann stated, “We count on Lorinda’s analytical skills, but we depend on her in so many other ways. Everything from setting up slide presentations that often include complicated graphs and charts to monitoring my email traffic, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks when I’m out of the office.” Dee Ann went on to explain, “Lorinda is always willing to lend a hand whenever her help is needed. She’s a team player.”

Lorinda’s state career began in 1993 when she applied for positions at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Tourism. DNR called first and she worked there for 8 years. A friend of Lorinda’s worked at the Division of Tourism and encouraged her to apply when a position opened up. She landed the job and went to work at the Division in 2000 in Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and Purchasing.

She began working with the research team in 2003 — incrementally at first. Lorinda’s supervisor explains that over the next 8 years Lorinda showed a lot of initiative and did more and more research. Between 2011 and 2013 Lorinda made the transition to analysis work full time. “I loved the analysis work and it motivated me to go back to school. I began working on my Masters and completed my MBA in 2014.”

When you ask Lorinda what the greatest challenge the Division faces is, she will tell you it’s the production of content for the Division’s website. “The way the Division goes about accomplishing its mission has changed dramatically in 19 years. In 2000 when I arrived, the internet was new. Today travelers count on websites like ours to provide them essential information when planning Missouri trips.”

Her career advice to others in public service is straight forward, “Get involved! Volunteer! Take the initiative to grow professionally. It’s your career!” Lorinda became involved in the Association for Governmental Accounting and later the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA). She currently serves as the treasurer for TTRA’s CenStates Chapter, which is made up of 15 states in the center of the U.S. And, last fall won the chapter’s President’s award for her efforts. “The volunteer activities take extra time but they give you a chance to learn from others. Embracing the opportunity to grow professionally is a choice – seize it.”

When Lorinda is asked what else she would like to accomplish in her career. She responds, “I will continue to look for opportunities to learn and grow.” We’re sure her mom would be pleased with the answer.