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Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Long before Rebecca Jones became Chief People Officer at Orvis, she was already living her life according to Orvis’ famous adage, “The Great Awaits.” Whether it be the great outdoors, the great unknown, or the next great adventure, Rebecca’s curious spirit usually has her saying ‘yes’ to all the above.

Born and raised on the coast of Queensland, Australia, Rebecca grew up surrounded by an entirely different world of wilds than her new home of Texas. “My parents worked many different jobs, but any space or free time they had, we were always hiking and looking for waterfalls. We had Australia’s phenomenal state parks to explore, and we never met a waterfall we didn’t want to try. We also spent a lot of time fishing and at the beach, which was your typical Australian lifestyle.”

After graduating from Griffith University in Queensland, Rebecca embarked on a decades-long career in Talent Recruitment and Development, a remarkable calling that has landed her over 8,000 miles from home. “I’ve been in the states almost 20 years. I came to America while working in the cruise industry and lived in Miami for nearly 15 years.” In 2019, while serving as Chief People Officer of a wellness company based in Florida, Rebecca was on the hunt for just the right talent to take the company public. “We needed the best people. As it turns out, the best people were in Texas, so we relocated the whole company to Dallas.”

Shortly after taking the company public in 2021, Rebecca found herself on the other side of the recruiting table. A headhunter for Orvis contacted her with an opportunity she couldn’t resist. “Orvis called at the exact right time. Though the company I was working for was phenomenal, Orvis offered the perfect opportunity to be able to connect the dots with people and the outdoors and truly great work. Honestly, it ended up being the best thing I could have done. What an incredible move!”

As chief people officer, Rebecca provides guidance and leadership over the people and culture of the organization. “My job is to help steward the culture and the talent so we are set up to thrive for another 165 years.  Right now, there are so many generations working at the same time. Every month, we celebrate 30- and 40-year milestones of tenured associates while also welcoming brand new employees. We handle all of the ‘hire to retire’ functions because our people are at phenomenal different stages of their careers, entry level to retirement.”

One of the hardest challenges in her new role was bridging the work culture of a pre- and post-pandemic world. “Orvis was a 9-5, Monday-Friday, in-office company for roughly 160 years, and that only changed four years ago, and practically overnight. Whereas a lot of companies have since reverted back to a hybrid environment, we are embracing the work where you are approach. I’d say it has been one of the most challenging but exciting transitions because we’re forging new ways of working. But one of the most exciting things is figuring out how to be a remote-first operation but remain a culturally strong and passionate group of people. Our strength compared to most other organizations is that we’re absolutely passionate about the outdoors. That’s our secret sauce, the glue that binds us all.”

Her role at Orvis has also inspired her to see the outdoors through a different lens. “What’s really cool is when I travel now, I look at all of the places I visit very differently. I look at them through the lens of the outdoors, the habitat, the wildlife. Even in Australia where I grew up, I now look at everything in terms of what’s going on with habitat, conservation, and what people are doing to protect and enjoy these places. Conservation was not part of the conversation growing up. That’s very new, and it’s been eye-opening. I think that’s been probably one of the biggest shifts in thinking.”

The role has also sparked her curiosity in all things outdoors, from fly fishing for tuna along Queensland’s coast to joining a local shotgun club to joining Stewards of the Wild and Texas Wildlife Association. ”I did my first big game hunt as part of the mentored hunt program through Stewards. Once I joined, I was immediately dialed in with the Austin and Dallas Chapters. It’s just this phenomenal community. What I appreciate most is that all these organizations—Stewards of the Wild, Texas Wildlife Association, various outfitters—were all working in conjunction. Everybody’s interconnected.”

And just this month, Rebecca took on a new Stewards role in the field, that of first-time mentor for a successful deer hunt, where Rebecca’s mentee snagged a deer, and they both captured the perfect trophy shot.