Q&A with Kim Bumpas on Careers, Confidence, and Kindness

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Kim Bumpas is currently the President of Visit Knoxville, the official Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for Knoxville and Knox County. Their mission is to accelerate sustainable economic growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business to our community. Visit their website for more info! 

First, have you had any involvement with Girl Scouts over the years?kim bumpas headshot

I was a Brownie and then stayed involved in Girl Scouts for a short while. I was a crazy wild child as a kid, as my mom would say. I wanted to ride horses, play basketball, run with the boys – doing everything they could do, but better! As a kid – and still today – I loved animals and was always bringing home dogs that needed a home

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do!

I grew up in West Tennessee and came to Knoxville to go to the University of Tennessee. I started in the hotel business when I graduated and then progressed to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, or CVB.

My husband, Scott, and I live in Karns, and we have four kids (my step-children), one granddaughter (Addy), and two dogs (Katie and Desi). I love everything outdoors: swimming, biking, reading, walking trails, etc.

I’m the president of Visit Knoxville. It’s Knoxville’s Convention and Visitor Bureau, and we are in charge bringing things like conventions, meetings, and sporting events to town.

We also market Knoxville as a premiere getaway destination for leisure travelers and run the Knoxville Film Office and Knoxville Sports Commission.  All of these efforts drive hotel/motel tax collections which are vital to our economy.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve been able to accomplish in your career?

Being the president of Visit Knoxville is my dream job, and I am exceptionally proud that I earned every bit of being allowed to play this role. My defining moment came in 2012 when the CVB went through some controversy. I knew I could either sit back as a senior vice president of Sales and Marketing and watch it happen, or I could step up, stand in front of the cameras, and take my place. This is what allowed me to bring to life all the plans for Knoxville that I had in my head!

I’m proud to say that with that, I am a Knoxvillian for life!Kim and dogs

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in work?

It’s hard to learn to let business just be business. I’m a naturally happy person and I like everyone around me to be happy, too. But in business, that’s not always feasible, and you can’t take things personally. You have to remember that most folks with big opinions rarely have all the facts that go into their opinion, so you can’t take it to heart.

There’s something that can be learned from every situation good or bad. Take nuggets of learning from a situation and toss the rest.

How do you balance life and work and everything in between?

Thanks to technology, a work/life balance is very difficult in today’s world. I love it and then I hate it at times.

I remember the days when you could get away from folks calling you day and night, but now that’s hard to do because they call, they email, they text, and then they send a message on Facebook.

You have to be aggressive about making time for yourself, not judging yourself for any activity that relieves stress – and yes, that includes work.VK Kim

I will sometimes take the day off to work, just because it’s more fun to work in your pajamas than a business suit!

My husband and I also go on vacation every January, and that’s important!

How do you use courage and confidence in your job?

I use these two things every day in my job!  Being the president of Visit Knoxville is very demanding and I must have confidence even on my very worst day.

You also can’t be afraid to take chances. Sometimes there will be home runs and sometimes there won’t – but always have the courage to try.

Visit Knoxville wouldn’t be where it is today without taking chances. You have to trust your gut and believe in your vision and know that through hard work – you’ll achieve any goal you set for yourself.

What does “making the world a better place” look like to you?

It’s simple: kindness and gratitude. Giving opens up the door to receiving and you have so many opportunities to give every day.

Give kind words. Give a smile. Give appreciation and love. Give compliments. You can give courtesy to other motorists while you’re driving. You can give a smile to the car parking attendant. You can give a warm greeting to the newspaper stand person, or to the person who makes your coffee. You can give by allowing a stranger to go ahead of you into an elevator, and you can give by asking which floor they are going to and pressing the button for them. If someone drops something, you can give a helping hand and pick it up for them. You can give warm embraces to those you love. And you can give appreciation and encouragement to everyone.Kim biking

There are so many opportunities for you to give, thereby open the door to receiving.

What are your favorite places in Knoxville?

I have SO many, as I get the gift of seeing Knoxville from a visitor’s perspective every day. I love Market Square and all the restaurants, and the greenways that we have created via the Urban Wilderness. I love working downtown but living in Karns – it’s the best of both worlds: the downtown scene and being surrounded by farmland at home. You have to love the beauty of East Tennessee.

 What would you tell 15-year-old Kim?Kim

Be yourself at all times!  Being the best version of you is better than mimicking anyone else. I was gifted with a strong will from the get go, and I have always lived by that. I always had friends in every group imaginable because I took the time to see the good in folks, even if it was well-hidden, and I was patient.

I also had to fight that crippling voice in my head that talked down to me at times. If I had known at 15 that all I had to do to shut that voice up was to ignore it, life would have been a tad simpler.


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