Employee Spotlight: Brenda Semrow

In Culture and news by James Deem

Here at Deem, the company is not only our products or solutions, but we are one huge family — an extended family tree built of each and every Deem Team member, partner, and customer.

Today, let’s take a minute to get to know one of family members, Brenda Semrow.

Brenda has been part of the Deem family for the past five years. Originally from Wisconsin, she’s lived in San Francisco for almost 23 years, but now she splits her time between the Mendocino Mountains and Wisconsin (to help out with her Mom).


Brenda, What brought you to Deem?

This is quite a long story, actually. An old friend from a previous job contacted me about a position here, but I didn’t think I was interested. I’d never heard of the company and was targeting the big travel tech infrastructure firms during my job search. Then, his wife contacted me a few weeks later to make sure I wasn’t interested, but I ignored her.

Some months went by and I ran into a third friend from a different job in a bar on Noe St. He told me about his neighbor who worked at this really cool place he thought I would like. Turns out his neighbor is friends with my other friend! Now, this guy used to be my boss and knows me well so I decided, what the heck, third time’s a charm, and reached out for the job description.

My first thought as I read through was, “Wow; it’s like they made this position up just for me.” I later learned this thought was shared by the Travel Eng on the other end when my resume was read: “It’s like we made this position up for her.”

I was in the office for an interview the next day. After 5 hours in a tiny room, I was seated in the break area wrapping up with the recruiter when two of my interviewers suddenly appeared before me with a can of Guinness and a shot of Jameson. I gratefully accepted, now secure in the knowledge that I surely just got a new kickass job. Seriously, have you ever been presented with a drink and a toast at the end of a job interview?

I was on-board by the end of the week and the rest is history.

What is your title, and how do you define your role at Deem?

My title is Sr. Travel Domain Expert. Need I explain more? (I love my title so much.) I’m your connection to the wacky world of travel distribution technology, but you can also find me heads down in the production incident queue, researching and routing inbound bug reports for all of our products.

What’s your icebreaker at a cocktail party?

I don’t know, I just talk to people. There’s no line; everyone is different.

What are you passionate about?

Travel, and by extension SCUBA and nature. The whole reason I got into this business was so I could travel around, and that eventually turned into being about going diving and hiking. When not actually traveling, I can be found poking at travel technology…or explaining it. Or looking up fares for my friends in the GDS.

Who’s in your dream night out squad?

A night out with my co-workers, Yoni, Julian, Scott Cruse, and Garner, in the mosh pit is not to be missed.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday afternoon?

Outside or driving around looking for new places to go play outside — swimming even, weather permitting. All preferably with my or anyone else’s dog(s).

Who would your celebrity partner be on “Dancing with the Stars?”

Can they be dead? Michael Jackson, of course!! He can just win for me, since I won’t be dancing.

What was the last book you read, movie you saw, and/or video game that you crushed?

I read a lot of things. Besides all my science magazines, I’ve usually got some manner of sci-fi and some number of non-fiction books going at any given time. If you’d like to learn about California’s water management history, might I recommend Cadillac Desert? The last movie I saw that I liked was Interstellar, and just don’t have time for video games anymore.

What have you learned at Deem that improved you personally/professionally?

I’ve always worked deeply in the travel industry, and I didn’t know how to talk about it all in vocabulary that was accessible to those outside of the travel agent/travel booking backend experience. From a bunch of feedback I randomly got from all over the place at the company party this year, it sounds like Deem has taught me how to teach. I can explain it now, and I no longer mind public speaking to boot. Thank you, Deem!!

What’s one of your greatest personal memories of working on Deem’s product or participating in its culture?

Can you print these? Who could forget my interview that ended with a Guinness and shot of Jameson?

There’s the long history of the Travel team trying to have a summer picnic or any team outing, and it being eternally punctuated by some production emergency or the other, bringing the first responders back to the office in varying states of sobriety to amuse everyone on IRC with flippant comments.

There’s the time early in my tenure when I was asked to join a call – which I believed to be internal — and proceeded to get into a heated argument with a VP from one our very large, important partners. I was brand new and I couldn’t understand why that guy was yelling at me when the whole reason I thought I was asked to join the call was to explain the problem internally. He didn’t like the explanation and said, “Enough with your techno-babble,” and it was on! I was certain I would be fired, but instead, the individual who put me on the phone was brusquely reminded not to put Travel Eng on the phone with angry customers (unsure of the history behind that decree but there must be one). I’ve come a long way since then – I get to talk to customers all the time now!

Looking to meet more of the Deem Team?

Check out more of our employee spotlight blogs here. Or, even apply here to become our next Deam team member.

About the Author
James Deem

James Deem

James Deem will make the opposition green with envy as he highlights our awesome social events, casts a spotlight on our amazing collection of talent, and provides potential hires with insight into who we are, what we do, and why Deem is one of the hottest places to work in San Francisco. Keep an eye on the culture blog for frequent updates on all things Deem.