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IAEE Spotlight on 2022 IAEE Volunteer of the Year Award Winner Bob Hancock

Bob Hancock is a true Southern gent with a love for the industry that fuels his passion for giving back. Read how this long-time IAEE member cultivates the fresh perspective and sunny disposition that inspired his colleagues to name him the 2022 IAEE Volunteer of the Year.

By Mary Tucker, Sr. Communications & Content Manager

Bob Hancock has been a member of IAEE for more than 35 years and, in that time, has become well-known and highly respected throughout the industry for consistently serving on both the chapter and national levels with a positive outlook and ready smile. He served as chairperson of the IAEE Southeastern Chapter in 2015 and received the IAEE Chapter Merit Award in 2016. Even though he could have “rested on his laurels” after receiving this recognition, he has not. Bob has continually been an enthusiastic supporter of the Southeastern Chapter and IAEE.

Bob’s work on the chapter’s Industry Relations Committee includes leading the co-hosted Holiday Luncheon it shares with the PCMA Southeastern Chapter and MPI Georgia Chapter. In addition to chairing the committee, he readily volunteers to help “behind the scenes” with other committees’ needs and at chapter events. Bob is regularly among the first to volunteer his services in addition to being an active participant in board meetings, events and educational programs.

If you need a helping hand, Bob is there! His strong commitment to participating in and promoting the exhibitions and events industry while also engaging in community activities to address needs outside of the industry earned him the IAEE Volunteer of the Year Award last year, for which he was recognized this past December during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Louisville, KY (watch Bob’s acceptance speech here).

2022 IAEE Awards Chairperson Daniel McKinnon, CEM (left) and IAEE President & CEO David DuBois, CMP-F, CAE, FASAE, CTA (right) present the Volunteer of the Year Award to Bob Hancock (middle) during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2022 in Louisville, KY.

Here, Bob shares with IAEE his philosophy on delivering an excellent customer experience, the benefits of diving into the deep end of industry involvement and how volunteerism paves the path to leadership.

You have devoted more than three decades to the exhibitions and events industry. What makes you so passionate about this industry, and how do you see your role within it?

My passion comes from making sure that people are happy – plain and simple. Customer service and good ole Southern hospitality run deep in my blood, and this industry was a perfect opportunity for me to share that. The exhibitions and events industry is dynamic and constantly evolving, which makes it exciting and challenging at the same time.

I am passionate about creating memorable experiences for attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. I always strive to help deliver events that are not only engaging and informative, but leave a lasting impression on everyone involved.

You’ve spent a considerable amount of that time serving the industry at the local level. What do you consider the greatest advantages for IAEE members to being involved with their local chapter?

Being involved with the local chapter of IAEE can bring many advantages to its members. Education, career development and advocacy all have their advantages, but for me, the networking opportunities have been the best. 

Local chapters provide a platform for members to connect with industry peers in their region. Yes, this can lead to new business contacts and partnerships, but most importantly, it allows you to create relationships. I have so many strong and lasting relationships through my participation at the local level, that I consider it a family. It is a symbiotic relationship because we are always there for each other when called on, whether work-related or not.

You have been commended by your colleagues for your good-natured and collaborative approach. What are some of the ways in which you motivate others to get on board with initiatives you are leading?

My approach comes from that good ole Southern hospitality again. I will never ask anyone to do something I am not willing, passionate about, or committed to doing myself. Now, I don’t profess to know everything, so if it is something I can’t do, I work to find the resources and support needed for their success.  

I work hard at listening and try to celebrate the successes along the way, and acknowledge everyone’s contributions. I realize this is a team effort, and I feel people believe I am a team player.

You have served in various leadership positions including chapter chairperson. What advice would you give someone interested in taking more of a leadership role within IAEE and/or their local chapter?

First you have to get involved!  In anything you do in life, you have to put forth the effort. Sitting on the sideline watching does not get you very far, you have to get in the game. This is a welcoming industry, very warm and engaging. If you have not done so already, join a committee, this is where the magic happens. Understanding how the association works, starts here. The more engaged you are on a committee, the better prepared you are to lead that committee and ultimately join the Board. With this experience, you can actively participate in the decision-making process and be better prepared to move into the pipeline of leadership.

What do you look forward to in the coming year, and what advances would you like to make or see happen?

I am so excited to see people coming together again face-to-face. That has always been the heartbeat of our industry, and we are finally getting back on track. We still have a ways to go, including the challenges of re-engaging participation within our association. We must re-establish the importance of IAEE, and what it offers to all of its members. Additionally, it is critical that we increase attendance at all of our association events. Networking and education are the lifelines by which our industry operates, so I encourage everyone to come out and get involved.

The Call for Nominations for this year’s IAEE Awards is now open! Check out all of the award categories here and be sure to submit your nominations by 31 August!

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