Michelle Lamela, 27
Vice President of Human Resources
Ever notice how New York City seems to turn Christmassy overnight? A large part of this apparently “magical” appearance of decorations and lights is actually the result of hard work and planning by local company American Christmas. Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, and Radio City Musical Hall are just a few of the iconic landmarks in the Mount Vernon-based company’s impressive portfolio.
“We make Christmas happen,” explains Michelle Lamela, American Christmas’ vice president of human resources, who helps put together the teams required to engineer the spectacular holiday displays and stage them on-site. “We go in after hours. It has to get done really quickly,” she explains. “If you ever go to Fifth Avenue at 3 a.m. near the end of November, you’ll see a bunch of people in American Christmas T-shirts and safety vests,” Lamela adds.
Planning begins during the off-season with a full-time staff of some 65 people, but the American Christmas workforce swells to more than four times that during the holidays (October to late January). After four years on the job and two promotions, Lamela seamlessly guides the critical ebb and flow of all employees.
Lamela says she discovered her affinity for human resources during college. “After the first class, I was hooked,” she explains. “Being a resource for people is the best feeling in the world. When they don’t know who to turn to, they can call me — I love what I do.”