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YP Spotlight

What is the YP Spotlight? GOOD QUESTION!

IAEE’s Young Professional Committee recognizes a young professional in the exhibitions and events industry in each quarterly YP Connect Newsletter. You can find all past newsletters by following this link.

Would you like to be IAEE’s next YP Spotlight? Get your name in the bucket by sending an email to yp@iaee.com. Your YP Spotlight could be included in the next YP Connect Newsletter!

Krista DeBrosse

International Trade Show Coordinator
PMMI

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I studied Conventions and Special Events in college and had various internships within the industry during my summer
years between semesters.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I am the International Trade Show Coordinator at PMMI and am responsible for organizing our pavilion exhibitors that come to PACK EXPO from various countries around the world. I’m also managing the PMMI Pavilion at EXPO PACK Mexico and EXPO PACK Guadalajara, which both contain about 90 member companies. I’m doing everything from booth selection, exhibitor communications, furniture and service orders, and operations.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I attend IAEE functions to continue learning about the industry and to hear about best practices that are currently being used by other organizations. I started my CEM this year and am excited to get certified within the next few years.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Don’t panic if something goes wrong! Know who your on-site contacts are and have a good working relationship with them. Your vendors will typically be able to solve the problem quickly and won’t mind helping you out.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: Since I work mostly with overseas countries and Mexico, I’m usually working on a delay. I’ve become an expert at keeping lists of pending items that I need and following up with my contacts if I don’t hear back within a day or two.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Try to get involved in as many aspects of your department as you can. If an opportunity presents itself that will help grow your career and learn more about the department or industry, take it. Every opportunity leads somewhere.

Q: How did you settle on your current job and select this side of the business?
A: Conventions have always fascinated me and the travel aspect was intriguing. I enjoy planning and PACK EXPO and EXPO PACK have allowed me to do that on a much larger scale.

Q: Where do you get to travel for your job?
A: I get to travel to Mexico City, Guadalajara, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Philadelphia for our various shows.

 

Winnie Liu

Sales Director, International Business Development
Emerald Expositions

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. After spending 2 years in the freight forwarding industry, I started my trade show experience at UBM Advanstar, where I provided customers with services to over 600 international exhibitors from Asian countries. In 2014, I joined Emerald Expositions, the largest B2B trade show organizer in the United States, and started working in the international division with SourceDirect at ASD. The event is going and growing well – it was identified as the fastest growing sourcing event in the United States over the last four years. I was recently promoted to Sales Director, International Business Development. I’m proud to work for such a great company that recognizes its employees. I speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, which has helped me excel in international business. I’m confident in myself and in my capabilities and believe we’ll continue to grow the international business portfolio.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: Recognize new growth opportunities and developing the strategies to deliver these opportunities into reality. Drive innovation and grow the international business across our trade show portfolio. Help to train and develop new team members.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: IAEE is the leading association for the global exhibition industry. IAEE provides great network, education, resources to the community, and it connects the professionals within in the industry which help us to engage and create more business opportunities and better service for our clients. I am proud of being a member of IAEE.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Power of Influence and Persuasion and Selling has Nothing to Do with Selling

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect of my current role is to make sure our international clients understand well enough of how to be succeed in the U.S. Market. International clients are coming around the world, they have different cultures background and speak different languages. As a trade show organizers, our mission is continuing to provide educations to them, support and guide them via education seminars, webinars, face to face meetings, and on site trainings on how to prepare for exhibiting at U.S. trade shows and be successful. We have seen results from increased number of exhibitors and retention rate YOY, and we have received great show feedbacks from our clients.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: I truly recommend starting a career in this industry because it’s filled with opportunities. This industry is so unique because it brings people together and creates lots and lots of business opportunities, such as networking and education. People who work in this industry have passion, talents, creative ideas, and the vision to foresee and forecast what the next trend is, so there are endless business opportunities we create for exhibitors and attendees. There is so much going on in this industry and there is always new excitement — I love trade shows!

Q: Why are you passionate about the events and exhibitions industry?
A: Helping international people do business here and bringing international business to the United States is something I’m very passionate about and want to continue doing throughout my career. I want to use my international background, talents and love for this field to help people grow and do business together. I’m proud to be a member of a great show management team with sourcing knowledge, international business experience and multi-languages skills in Japanese, Mandarins, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Romanian, German, Swedish, and English. We provide unique services and experiences for both exhibitors and attendees.

Q: What’s been your proudest career moment so far?
A: A memory I’ll never forget is when we dissolved a business partnership with an exclusive agent and successfully established a full sales network structure in China. Double digit growth in NSF YOY has proved this is the right business model, and we will continue to develop and strengthen our business partnership with our business partners around the world to promote the business.

 

Deanna Worrell

Manager, Event Operations
Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: My first official job in the industry was as a day of wedding coordinator. It was a great experience – there were many challenges but I learned the importance of providing quick solutions and providing great service.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: I enjoy the puzzle work of getting the logistics in order -working with the various vendors, internal staff, my events team and providing creative ideas/solutions to create a great program and experience for our attendees.  I also have the opportunity to travel all across the U.S. and put on some great events!

Q: What makes you want to be involved with IAEE?
A: IAEE is an expert on what is happening in the Events and Exhibits industry. Their education, events and connections are imperative to me as a planner.  I would encourage all young professionals in the industry to be a part of IAEE to grow their network and industry knowledge.

Q: What’s the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Onsite anything can happen, so always, always, ALWAYS have a backup plan!

Q: How did your overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: I have been with my organization for a little over three months – there is a learning curve when you move to a new organization. You have to learn new people, internal operating procedures, vendors, etc. One way that I am overcoming that difficulty is by asking questions and lots of them! The only way to learn is by seeking the answers. Like they say in grade school “no question is a dumb question”, so don’t be afraid to ask them.

Q: What’s your best advice / tips for any up and coming young professionals?
A: Be patient and learn as much as you can, where ever you can. Sometimes as a young professional, we can get caught up on titles, positions, and salary (which is important!) – but you can learn and make an impact in any position. Once you learn it, make it your own, make good connections and move on to the next big thing.

Q: What is your favorite career quote and why?
A: “Careers are not a ladder; they are a jungle gym. Don’t expect a direct climb” by Sheryl Sandberg.

For the most part, we view success as a linear process. When in fact, most successful people have failed several times before they made their big break. Or they started in a different industry from the one they are currently successful in. When you view success as a jungle gym it takes the weight off you not being where you think you should be in your career. Every job that you take, every mistake you make, every good and bad experience is all apart of your story and journey to your success.

Samantha Spitzner

Meetings Coordinator
Society of Biblical Literature

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: This is my first job in the industry: Meetings Coordinator at the Society of Biblical Literature.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: Seeing a meeting through, from the planning stages to completion, is always an extremely rewarding experience.

Q: What makes you want to be involved with IAEE?
A: I feel that having a learning resource, as well as a community of people with similar interests, work lives, and professional challenges is imperative to my growth as an industry professional.

Q: What’s the best lesson you learned on site?
A: The best lesson I have learned on site, at a meeting, is that flexibility is key. Although we do our best to plan for all eventualities, it is so important to be adaptable to whatever unexpected situations may (and will) occur.

Q: How did your overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: Since this is my first position in the industry, I think many of the most difficult aspects were my personal, self-limiting beliefs. Only through constantly pushing myself to achieve outside of my comfort zone, did I finally overcome (much of) my shyness and gain confidence in my capabilities.

Q: What’s your best advice / tips for any up and coming young professionals?
A: I think my best advice is ‘don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.’ As a naturally reserved person, this is something that I have struggled with in the past. Working through my shyness to share my ideas and meet others in the industry has helped to build by confidence and build my network exponentially.

Alexandra Chirico Adsit, CMP, CEM

Meeting Planner, Learning, Leadership Development and Evaluation
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I was introduced to the industry in 2010 when I completed a meetings unit internship at the Association of American Medical Colleges, the summer after I graduated from Virginia Tech.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: Full logistical responsibility and travel for 6-8 meetings annually, ranging in size from 20-800 attendees. These responsibilities include site selection and contract negotiation, vendor select and management, exhibits and sponsorship, budgeting and financial management, registration, housing, food and beverage, and financial closeout. We manage offsite receptions, poster sessions, mobile apps, website management, email and marketing communications and any additional responsibilities that may arise. I also assist with the Exhibit Hall and Sponsorship Opportunities at our annual meeting. I help with the floor plan, online exhibitor management, prospectus development, decorator communications and decisions, etc.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I learned about IAEE when I was exploring an opportunity to take on responsibilities associated with our annual meeting’s exhibit hall and sponsorship opportunities. I was immediately intrigued to learn more about what a membership with IAEE would offer and discussed options with an IAEE representative. She discussed the member benefits including learning offerings and webinars, professional development and networking opportunities like Expo! Expo! and after hearing what I was tasked with for our annual meeting, suggested I explore the CEM designation. Our membership with IAEE has been extremely impactful. I have participated in several CEM courses and obtained my CEM in December 2016. I had an opportunity to attend Expo! Expo! complimentary because of being a new member, and I made several connections with industry professionals that I remain in touch with on a regular basis.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Not being there is an opportunity missed. I met with so many of our vendors and partners while onsite and was able to engage with them and talk with them while networking and during sessions.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: There are only so many hours in the day and you cant do it all. Everyone needs help sometimes and I cant be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. It is a hard lesson to learn.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Get involved. Absorb and ask questions about everything that intrigues you. Our industry is extremely welcoming and people love highlighting all of the amazing things they have going on when people show interest in something they are doing or that you want to know more about.

Q: What is your favorite task or aspect of your current role?
A: Site selection and contracting is my favorite part of any meeting. One of my favorite parts of my job is sitting down at the beginning of the planning process with my program staff contact, seeing how far along they are in their planning process, and figuring out what they want to achieve onsite at their event. We brainstorm how to adapt the space, the venue, the city, the registration fee, and the expenses to fit their needs and the needs of their constituents. Putting work in on the front end, during site selection, gives us a better sense of what they want to do at the meeting, where things will be placed, and if the cities will work for that particular group and meeting.

Q: What is a book that has impacted your career?
A: The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John C. Maxwell.

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Abigail Eastman

Meetings Coordinator
International Sign Association

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: My first job in the industry was working at the Washington Hilton as an Events Assistant. It was a wonderful experience learning how events are executed in hotels and how the hotel operates to ensure a streamline planning process.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: Currently I work at the International Sign Association as the Meetings Coordinator. I love planning meetings that allow our members and attendees to connect with one another face to face and have a great time doing so. The position allows me to be creative and gain more experience in the industry as well as network with other meeting planners. I also really enjoy the people I work with. Everyone is so passionate about our Association and what we do for our members. We also have a ton of fun doing what we do.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: Being involved with IAEE allows me to connect with other industry professionals who share the same passion that I do for events. I also really appreciate the educational events that IAEE organizes. I enjoy going to educational sessions and learning about new trends in the industry and up-and-coming technologies that I can implement at our events.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: You can never plan enough. There is always going to be something that happens on-site that you haven’t planned for, or expected. You need to be able to act quickly, get creative in your approach and do everything you can to ensure it doesn’t affect the attendee experience.

Q: How did you overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: I overcame challenges in my career with the support of other members of my team. We support one another and I think that is what makes our programs and events so great.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: People say it all the time-to get involved. It is so important and truly makes such a difference in your professional and personal growth. Not to mention it is fun to participate in industry events and meet other industry professionals. You learn so much about the industry and about other people’s experiences that you can apply to your professional growth down the road. This industry is the perfect place to start a career and definitely has longevity.

Q: What new or exciting developments are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working towards my CMP. I recently applied and will be taking the exam in May. I joined a study group to compare notes and meet other meeting planners who have either already taken the exam, or will be and what advice they can share to succeed.

Q: What about the exhibitions and event industry is important to you?
A: Events are what bring people together. I think it is so important that these events create memorable experiences and connections for attendees. Discovering new and innovative ways to create those fun experiences is what it is all about. Whether it’s through the food, entertainment, education events, or networking events-it’s all about leaving a lasting impression. A takeaway that that individual can use in their work, or their next event.

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Maxx Lebiecki

Account Executive
AEM – Association of Equipment Manufacturers

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: I worked two jobs as a CONEXPO-CON/AGG Intern – Exhibitor Engagement & Attendee VIP.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: Engagement with people from all over the world, seeing something that a team worked hard on come to fruition.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: The passion that everyone has in the industry. EXPO! EXPO! is a great example of that.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Be alert and do your homework. Learn as much as possible, expect to work on the fly.

Q: How did you overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: Accept mistakes. Move forward. Make it better.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Always give 110%. Always try to improve everything around you. Always try to make a positive impact. People will notice.

Q: Where do you feel the industry is headed?
A: I think two things are currently affecting the industry in a big way:

1- Technology. New technology, specifically more ways to grab data are going to help exhibitors learn more about trade shows patterns, gather more leads and increase roi

2- International Markets have an opportunity to grow trade shows. Through avenues such as technology.

Q: Ways to improve?
A: Constantly look for any missed opportunities, or frustrations and work to make them better. Whether it’s housing, registration, booking exhibits, adding sponsorship opportunities or general flow of a floor plan, there is almost always something to improve & make better.

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Samantha Spitzner

Meetings Coordinator
Society of Biblical Literature

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: This is my first job in the industry: Meetings Coordinator at the Society of Biblical Literature.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: Seeing a meeting through, from the planning stages to completion, is always an extremely rewarding experience.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I feel that having a learning resource, as well as a community of people with similar interests, work lives, and professional challenges is imperative to my growth as an industry professional.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: The best lesson I have learned on site, at a meeting, is that flexibility is key. Although we do our best to plan for all eventualities, it is so important to be adaptable to whatever unexpected situations may (and will) occur.

Q: How did you overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: Since this is my first position in the industry, I think many of the most difficult aspects were my personal, self-limiting beliefs. Only through constantly pushing myself to achieve outside of my comfort zone, did I finally overcome (much of) my shyness and gain confidence in my capabilities.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: I think my best advice is ‘don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.’ As a naturally reserved person, this is something that I have struggled with in the past. Working through my shyness to share my ideas and meet others in the industry has helped to build by confidence and build my network exponentially.

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Jennifer (Sweet) Stewart

Events Coordinator
National Catholic Educational Association

Q: What was your very first job in the industry?
A: My current position is my first full time, post collegiate job in the industry – Events Coordinator with the National Catholic Educational Association. While still in college, I held two internships within the industry yet those were short, summer only opportunities between school years.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of your current position?
A: I love that each day brings something new and different – I’ve never had two days look alike. I also very much so enjoy working on events because they are projects with tangible outcomes, products and experiences that are created from scratch which is rewarding, fun and motivating!

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: In just my short time of becoming involved with IAEE it has become very clear to me that it is an organization very supportive of its members truly wanting them and this industry to succeed.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Work to introduce yourself to as many individuals and make as many connections as possible!

Q: How did you overcome the most difficult aspect of your current position?
A: It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with an ever growing “to-do” list and to have difficulty in prioritizing which tasks or projects need to be done before others. Of course I’m always working to improve my ability to prioritize and manage all of my “to-do’s”, but to tackle this difficulty I’ve made sure to periodically re-write and re-organize my task list and include deadline dates on it. Trial and error has also been my best friend in this process!

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Remember to take a breath and do all things that you do with confidence – which is easier said than done! Likely many of the aspects of your first or second position in the industry will involve tasks and projects that you have never done before or have limited experience in. It will be very easy to avoid making decisions, sharing new ideas and taking on unfamiliar tasks in case you could be wrong or make a mistake but jumping in and doing exactly those things are the best way to learn and push forward.

Q: How did/do you know that you’re in the right position for you?
A: Even on my most busy or stressful days I adore getting out of bed early and going to work!

Q: What is a project you’ve really enjoyed within your current position?
A: Over the past year, I have managed the mobile app that we provide for our attendees at our annual convention which is something that I never thought I’d do and have really had fun with. It’s a challenging yet rewarding process each year which is great!

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Elizabeth George

Associate Manager/Customer & Audience Solutions
Informa Exhibitions

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I found myself here because of good old fashioned networking! A former college friend referred me to the company and for the position that I am in now. You never know what opportunities that friend from college or the person you met at an industry event may lead to!

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I oversee our digital sponsorships and manage vendor relationships. I also handle shooting and editing videos internally for marketing purposes as well as on-site for our shows.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I was invited to an IAEE event soon after I started in the industry by a coworker. Slowly I got involved with the YP committee and now serve on the DFW board as the Secretary/Social Media chair. Its been a great opportunity to network and gain more experience in the industry.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Make a plan! There is so much to do from conference sessions, keynotes, meeting with exhibitors and attending show floor activities. Before you know it, the show floor is closing and you still have so many things to do!

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: In the beginning, the challenge was to learn everything about trade shows as possible – including the lingo (drayage? what?). I was set up with meetings in my office with individuals who were experts in their job responsibility and just peppered them with questions. I still find myself reaching out and asking questions about the how and why of our industry.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Get to know the people around you in the industry. Meet those people you only ever talk to through email at Expo!Expo! or at your local IAEE meetings.

Q: What do you binge on (besides Netflix…)?
A: I’m a total NPR & podcast junkie. If you’re looking for good recommendations I’d suggest This American Life, Snap Judgment, Lore, Reply All, and The Moth (among many others!)

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Alexandra Gonzalez

Trade Show Manager
Latin Expo Group, LLC.

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: During college, the internship experiences I chose to pursue involved sales, customer service, marketing, international trade and were generally event-oriented. Through these internships, not only did I gain invaluable experience in these particular fields but it gave me insight to what I ultimately wanted in the long term – combine all of these passions into one job. I lucky to have found that perfect match when I was hired as Show Manager for the Latin Auto Parts Expo in my current company – Latin Expo Group, a professional trade show organizer based in Miami, Florida. Being given the responsibility to essentially create and develop a brand new trade show at the ripe age of 22 was an enormous honor!

In addition to this, I had studied International Relations in college and was always fascinated by globalization and the increasing development of the trade amongst countries. I loved the idea that by organizing trade shows I would be providing companies a platform to sell their products in the international marketplace.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: Two years ago when I first joined my company Latin Expo Group, I was tasked to develop a new auto parts show that was just launched by the company – the Latin Auto Parts Expo www.latinpartsexpo.com which was taking place in Panama, a foreign country I had not visited and had minimal prior knowledge of. My initial goal was simple: I was to make the Latin Auto Parts Expo, in its first year, a successful show and sell booths to at least 100 foreign exhibitors.

After months of consistent cold-calling, developing creative promotional emails to send out to exhibitor prospects, securing strategic ad spaces in virtually every major newspaper in Latin America & Caribbean, I am proud to say that all that hard work paid off and I exceeded my initial sales goal for the show. The first year of the trade show was huge success with approximately 193 exhibitors. This year, the Latin Auto Parts Expo’s second year, brought almost double that number. The 2015 show had 357 exhibitors and approximately 3,500 attendees – becoming the largest show in the history of our company. We have also have been fortunate to count on the recurring participation of many of the major brands in the auto parts industry such as Denso, NAPA Auto Parts, Pep Boys, AC Delco Tools & Equipment, etc. I applied to have our show certified by the US Department of Commerce, making it the only auto parts show in Latin America & the Caribbean to be officially endorsed by the US Dept. of Commerce and deemed “an excellent opportunity for American companies to showcase their products.” Overall, I am very proud to have managed and oversaw the development of this successful trade show from its conception.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: By being involved with IAEE, I aspire to connect with other exhibition organizers, third-party vendors, and other event professionals and exchange experiences and ideas. Latin Expo Group, LLC. Is a fairly new company with seven years of industry experience but it is growing very quickly. The company is looking to create shows in various regions and industries. It is great to connect with the industry professionals in the prospective areas that our company is looking to expand to. I attended the KLI program in August of this year. It was my first IAEE event. The interaction among my peers during the activities and our discussions truly impacted me personally as well as professionally. One of my main takeaways from the program was that in order to succeed in my profession and for my own personal growth I undoubtedly needed to involve myself in continued learning. Even if I believe I am organizing a successful show, there is always something I can learn and improve upon. I am accountable not only to my company and myself but also to my clients, our exhibitors, who put their trust in me to organize a prosperous show for their businesses. They invest a great amount of money and time to be at our exhibition and it is vital that I, in return, invest in myself as the show’s manager.

I am grateful that I found IAEE, an organization that provides a platform for exhibition organizers, especially young professionals, to come together to share experiences and help one another to grow their respective shows.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: At my company, we strive to provide excellent customer service on a daily basis. Many of our exhibitors and the partners our company have worked with in the past have praised Latin Expo Group to have one of the best customer service-oriented staff in the business. Our exhibitors recognize that they are not just a “booth number” at our shows– we know them personally. Given the type of relationship we have with our clients, we are able to work with them closely from the date of their booth reservation up until after the show to ensure they had a worthwhile experience at our shows. I have found the customer service provided by our company has given us a competitive edge from various other shows in our industry. I also believe that it is important to study on the market and customers in which your event or exhibition is related. For example, I subscribe for news updates of companies I would like to see at our shows. This way, I am well informed when speaking to the company about exhibiting at the Latin Auto Parts Expo. This approach has worked well with major companies we have had in the past. As the legendary Steve Jobs once said “Get closer than ever to you customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: A challenging aspect of my current position has been trying to develop a fairly new show into an internationally recognized exhibition in the industry. Initially, it seemed like a huge task to overcome. However since launching the show in 2014, my colleagues and I have worked daily on promoting the show internationally by our social media tactics, strategizing our marketing outreach, partnering with various media outlets, among other promotions, to make the Latin Auto Parts Expo widely-acclaimed as a “success” within the industry.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Always keep yourself active and involved! The trade show industry is always evolving, make sure you keep yourself current on all the exciting trends and changes happening.

Q: If you had to choose, which city has been your favorite to host an exhibition?
A: I think New Orleans, Louisiana, has been my personal favorite city that my company has organized an exhibition in. NOLA’s unique culture, vibrant city life and welcoming residents make it an excellent host to any exhibition. In addition, I thoroughly enjoy working with the wonderful staff at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

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Tiffany Hale

Event Manager
National FFA Organization

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I began as a volunteer for my former company’s booth at the National FFA Convention and Expo. I immediately fell in love with the industry and knew that it was where I needed to be. I immediately began the transition out of finance and into event management.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I currently manage the Expo for the National FFA Convention and Expo. This includes everything from working with the GC, designing the floor plan, managing labor with local unions, managing the budget, and working with exhibitors to make sure they are creating an ideal attendee experience.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I see high value in always striving to grow a network and influence in the industry. IAEE connects me to peers and advisers that can help me grow personally and professionally.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Time management, and that the experience is tailored to your drive. This was actually my first industry show and I quickly learned that the way the week is scheduled, it was very easy to tailor an experience to meet my needs. I loved that! It was fantastic to be able to meet with so many people, and learn so much, in just a few short days.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A:Grey areas. When I took on this role, it was actually a re-positioning of three roles. Navigating when to step up and when to hand over the reigns was a challenge. I work with a great team, though, and that definitely helped in the first few months.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: My best advice is to trust in your abilities. Too often we feel intimidated due to our age, or perceived inexperience, even though we’ve been successful in the past. While it is definitely important to have mentors and seek advice, it is equally important to believe in your own abilities.

Q: What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever been asked to do in your current role?
A: I had an exhibitor last year that had a giant rodeo horse in their booth. They asked that my team took time at the end of the day after closing the hall to go out to the stables to “tuck him in”. We did and it ended up being one of the best team building moments of the event. Sometimes outstanding customer service is a bit unconventional!

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Cate Hunter

Event Services Coordinator
SmithBucklin

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: Completely by chance, I started in the industry my first day at SmithBucklin.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: In my current role I develop, maintain and manage client budgets, client teams, and volunteer committees. I am responsible for exhibit floor plan development, exhibitor relations, sponsorship fulfillment, and creating new and innovative items whenever possible. I am a vendor liaison on some accounts and engage in a supervisory role on others.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: Working with associations and volunteers in my day to day, its very easy to see the impact that people have when they give back to their own profession. Being able to be involved with IAEE helps me keep passionate about the industry that is also my profession.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: You can try to plan for everything, but something will always change. You have to learn to role with the punches, and still wake up the next day ready to tackle the next challenge.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect of my current role was learning to interact and be respected by volunteers twice my age. I spent a lot of time getting to know each of my volunteers on a personal level while delivering work at a high caliber.

There’s nothing better than proving someone’s initial impression wrong and by remaining professional, getting to know them personally and delivering good work we now have great working relationships that make our day to day a lot easier.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Be humble, and don’t forget to laugh. Sometimes we take ourselves a little too seriously and just need to take a step back to smile at everything we’ve accomplished so far.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you, and why?
A: 1.My kindle. I love to read and don’t leave home without a book of some sort on my person.
2.A lighter. I hate being cold and don’t have the patience to try and create a fire on my own.
3.Sunscreen. Sun damage is serious and I don’t want to look 100 years old when they finally find me to take me home. 🙂

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Jessie Wolfe

Marketing Manager
National Trade Productions

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I really just fell into the industry. They don’t tell you about the events industry in college, so I did not realize it was an option. While job searching I was applying to jobs in all different industries, but once I started working in events I was hooked!

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: Working for an events management company allows me to work on a wide variety of shows in different industries. I many focus on attendee and exhibitor marketing.  I also do corporate marketing for my company, National Trade Productions.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: My passion for my job and the industry drives my involvement in IAEE.  I really just enjoy my job and want to explore all facets of the industry and meet people that share the same passion for this industry as I do.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Always wear comfy shoes! If your feet hurt it is a distraction from being a problem solver onsite.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenging part of my current role is having to become an expert in different industries. With each client and industry show there is a different language to use, different state of each industry, and different type of marketing campaign that will work.  You must know about the state of the industry and jargon to be able to pull off an effective marketing campaign.  It can be a lot of information to keep up with.  But I just take notes and continue to learn more and more about each industry as the show cycle progresses.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Just keep learning. Go to industry events (IAEE, ASAE, PCMA, etc) and learn from the people you meet there that have been in the industry.  Going to these events will also keep you up to date on the latest trends in the industry and techniques that you may have new tried that have worked on other shows.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect about your job?
A: The travel is a great perk! I still enjoy getting to travel to different cities.

Q: What is your favorite part of the show cycle?
A: My favorite part hands down is being on show site. I love being able to see my months and months of work come together into a wonderful show.

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Justin Courtney

Exhibit Coordinator
Society for Mining Metallurgy & Exploration

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I started with a mining consulting firm that would exhibit at shows and then decided that I wanted to assist in organizing events.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I manage the exhibits for our small section meetings and I am the lead coordinator for all other conferences involving exhibits. From daily communications, collecting payments, assisting with booth design, next years floor plan layout etc.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: The CEM courses is what drives me to IAEE along with having the support from others in the same industry that can assit while dealing with the same challenges.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: It’s always easier to add more booths to a floor plan rather that delete booths when they don’t sell.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: My biggest challenge was trying to have a successful conference despite the industry downturn. I’m still trying to overcome this as it may effect the industry for a few years.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Try to implement the best procedures that will work for you. Even if your supervisor does not ask you to do things, go above and beyond with timelines, lists etc. This will make things easier for you in the long run.

Q: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A: It’s all about the desire within a woodchuck as you can do anything you put your mind to.

Q: If there are 6 apples and you took away 4, how many apples do you have?

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Cat Damian

Marketing & Sponsorship Manager
Corcoran Expositions, Inc.

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I was referred to Corcoran by a friend. Prior to joining the trade show industry, I worked in marketing and promotions for major market radio in Chicago.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: As Marketing & Sponsorship Manager, I help association clients develop and manage their sponsorship programs, advising on new opportunities and benefits to create attractive programs that are in-line with the marketplace and can help reach both the association’s and exhibitor’s goals for the conference. Customer service is a big part of my job. Sponsoring companies require extra time and attention in return for their investment. I work with the association, decorators, hotels, convention centers, etc. to coordinate all fulfillment details for the sponsor, both pre-show and on-site.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I’m still new to IAEE but it has been great meeting people from across the country involved in all aspects of the industry.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: No matter how much time you spend preparing before a show, there will always be curve balls thrown your way. Stay cool and deal with it. There’s no time to freak out.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect was learning the different industries of my clients so I could recommend sponsorship options that work best for them. I overcame this by doing lots of industry research and paying close attention to evaluations from both attendees and exhibitors.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Keep learning. Take a class or attend a session that is not directly related to your current role. You will learn something new that might help you think outside the box on future projects.

Q: What are some perks of your job or industry?
A: The travel. Thanks to my current role, I’ve been lucky enough to visit cities all over the country that I don’t think I would have had the chance to visit otherwise. I hope to add some international locations to the list as I continue in this industry.

Q: What is one of the most interesting things you’ve learned since joining the industry?
A: There’s a trade show for everything. Everything.

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Krista LeMoine

Associate Operations Manager
Informa Exhibitions

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: My dad has worked for in the industry my entire life so I grew up on show sites. Take your kid to work days were the best! I got to color floor plans and drive the carts… Plus dad got to travel all the time so of course I thought he had the coolest job ever.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I am an Operations Manager for Informa Exhibitions U.S. So instead of coloring floor plans, now I get to design them. I work with our Sales team on assigning booths during Space Draw and writing up exhibitor newsletters. I work with our vendors and convention centers to collect order forms for our Service Manual and place our show management orders for the expo. I also handle sponsorship fulfillment and logistics for our onsite and offsite events.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: Trade show management is my career. I want to be involved with the organization that I can learn and grow my career through.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: Nothing is set in stone. Ever. You just have to be as prepared as possible and be ready to make changes on site. Thinking on your feet will get you far in this industry 🙂

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: We had quite a few team changes this past year. I was bounced back and forth between two shows. Luckily, I have awesome coworkers who helped make sure everything was taken care of. We had all hands on deck December-February, but everything came together and we had the smoothest show yet!

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: Ask questions. Learn from your colleagues. Your best resources are the people around you. You’ll learn that most people in this industry have worked in it for a long time. Which means they know their stuff and they’ve probably encountered problems similar to what you’re struggling with before. Talk to them and get their advice. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know;” that saying is true for so many reasons.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect about your job and/or the industry?
A: I thoroughly enjoy planning our parties and attendee engagements. A few of these fun events that come to mind are: an after-hours BBQ block party, a show-closing raffle, and a sponsored booth scavenger hunt. I get such a sense of accomplishment to see these events come to life and to hear the (mostly positive) feedback from the exhibitors and attendees. It’s also fun to see how much these yearly events evolve depending on the location.

Q: Say there’s like a whole box of Teddy Grahams in a room all by themselves. Say I left them there and told you not to eat any until I got back. How long would it take you to disobey my wishes?
A: Well, really, it’s another question. Is the bag of Teddy Grahams in the box open or not? If it’s open, it depends on how hungry or bored I am as to how long it would take. If I’m bored or it’s lunch time, I might last an hour, but even then I wouldn’t take many–like, 6 or 8 max. Who’s going to miss 6 cookies? If the bag is closed, I won’t touch them regardless of lunchtime because you’ll know. But then, if you lock me in the room for days and I’m starving…

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Fabian Quinonez

Marketing & Operations Assistant
Premiere Show Group

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I knew I wanted to work events in some capacity, so I decide to study at UCF’s Rosen’s College of Hospitality majoring in Event Management. During my Tradeshow Operations class, the Vice President of Premiere Show Group, Alinda Ramos, came in as a guest speaker. After her presentation we connected and followed up with an interview, which lead me to an operations internship for their largest event, Premiere Orlando. After a an intense show season, I was kept on board as a full time temporary employee which then lead me to a full time position as an operations assistant. After a year Premiere really understood and appreciated my creative skills and promoted me to the Marketing and Operations Assistant.

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: As the Marketing and Operations Assistant my responsibilities range is quite diverse. The following include my responsibility: negotiate contracts with media patterns, manage our email marketing, create our press releases, curate all of our social media campaigns, provide creative direction for print and digital marketing, schedule/book educators and workshops, manage unique experiences within our tradeshows and provide customer service for attendees.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: The email discussion boards have kept me in the loop of real life trade show challenges and solutions. Which then lead me to being a 20 under 30 honoree, which has driven me to continue my involvement with IAEE. I now have joined my local young professional chapter here in Orlando, FL. I look forward to engaging with like minded professionals as myself and learning.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: The best lesson I have learned onsite, was in my marketing/media partner’s class that I took from Angela J. Harar with the Vision Council. Her class allowed me to become a better negotiator by simply asking the question to media partners “what do you want, what’s going to make you happy.” Though it simple, it’s clear cut, which will help you to understand how to make your media partners happy, in return becomes a win win partnership.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenge part of my job has been balancing the different projects that I work on. I have developed customized schedules for each marketing aspect with a check and balances system to avoid anything being misplaced or forgotten about. As I have now been at my position for 3 years I now have an effective system in place to address each item effectively. I also create a daily focus list, which I pick 3 items and make it my priority for that day; this has drastically helped me keep projects moving along.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: My best advice would be to start interning as soon as possible and diversifying those internships to gain real hands on experience in different areas. Most internship lead to a job opportunity, currently at Premiere 4 previous interns have resulting in full time positions; including myself.

Q: What do you do to keep connect with your attendees/meet their needs?
A: In working in the beauty industry, our attendees are very outspoken, which I have leveraged to get real responses to meet their needs. Our social media platforms have grown to be the direct connection from us to them, they let us know the good and the bad; which allows us to address any concerns and glorify their most favorite aspects of the show. We keep a constant dialogue throughout the year to build anticipation, address any needs and to understand how to make the show even better.

Q: How do you deal with other professionals underestimating you as an asset due to your age?
A: I think as a young professional you do have a stigma for being young. I have learned it is best to first take a step back and listen, which is a great way to understand your company dynamics; taking the time to let your work speak for itself. Once you have done this it creates a stronger bond between your coworkers, respecting you as a valued worker. This creates a foundation which allows you to then provide constructive feedback to improve and optimize procedures, rules and direction.

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Kate Simonfay

Associate Manager
American Pet Products Association /Global Pet Expo

Q: How did you get started / involved in the industry?
A: I fell into the trade show industry by chance, and now that I’ve been in it for a few years, I can’t see myself doing anything else!

Q: What are the responsibilities in your current position?
A: I just transitioned from working on the attendee side of things to the exhibitor side. Specifically, I am working in exhibitor services. I’m lucky to have experience from both areas as to what it takes to put on a trade show.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: IAEE has been very valuable on both the local chapter level and national level. My boss has really encouraged me to become involved and in doing so I have built a great network of people. I often attend education sessions and have brought ideas back to the office that my own organization can implement. Not to mention, IAEE has been a big promoter of young professionals and even gave me the opportunity to attend Expo!Expo! this year.

Q: What is the best lesson you learned on site?
A: The importance of face-to-face communication. Expo!Expo! was a great way to develop relationships for future business and networking. I have had significant post-show follow-up and new business from the connections I made at the event.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of your current role, and how did your overcome it?
A: The most challenging aspect of my role, rather, career, has been establishing myself. I’ve talked about this before, but in my experience there is an assumption that since I am a young professional, I am inexperienced. Not the case! Attending Expo!Expo! and other industry events allows me to put myself out there and nix the stereotype.

Q: What is your best advice for up and coming young professionals?
A: My advice would be to get involved with IAEE. Attend your next local chapter meeting, or young professional meet-up! The word is getting out about young professionals and IAEE has been a great advocate for us. We all want to see this industry continue to grow, and it all begins with us!

Q: Does your association offer any perks?
A: My office has an open door policy for pets. As you all know, planning a tradeshow can be stressful. On most days we have at least 5 dogs in the office to provide us with some stress relief!

Q: What is your proudest industry accomplishment to date?
A: I serve as a Vice-Chair for the NYIAEE Chapter Young Professionals Committee. We have had a few successful events thus far and are in the midst of planning more! I’ve seen quite a response and I am excited to see what is in store for us.

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Yesenia Hasakian

Sales Manager
Core-Apps

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?
A: Making people feel happy and confident- while simultaneously understanding their needs, wants, and managing expectations. Those are my most important responsibilities. Working for Core-apps has been one amazing ride that is continuously going up. Sales positions are one of the most challenging, yet the most rewarding and I am not talking monetary here. How can I make someone’s day better is what I ask myself each day.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: The people are the ones who drive my involvement. Without the members we wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be here writing up my responses. I have met some wonderful individuals and I enjoy learning and growing amongst my peers and industry veterans.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
A: Let’s be honest, in this industry most of us enjoy networking in a lively atmosphere, with fun tunes and a refreshing adult beverage. This is also the most common type of networking opportunity. However, I am a big outdoor enthusiast–opportunities that allow us to spend time outside whether it is a fun run, picnic at the park or service project.

Q: What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
A: Hands down 2012 Expo! Expo! In Orlando, Florida. This was my first Expo! Expo! and I was awarded to go by my Hotel college, UNLV. I volunteered as a booth judge, which allowed me to go by a set of booths to evaluate each one based on a criterion given to me. This presented the opportunity to engage with industry professionals, learn about their business and share my story.

Q: What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
A: The ability to travel to destinations that you probably would not go to typically.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: Well, it all started when I moved to Las Vegas in 2011. I took a year off school to allow myself to be qualified for in-state tuition. During that year I became familiar with some of the largest trade shows that would come to Las Vegas. I attended CES and I remember telling myself “Yes, this is it, this what I want to do”, of course I had no idea what REALLY went into planning an event. I was accepting it for all its vibrant glory during show time.

Finally, I attended and graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During my time there I was heavily involved—volunteering at trade shows, attending networking events. Later, I became chair of the IAEE Student Chapter. We would plan events for students such as: back of the house tours of venues and trade shows and an industry round table.

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A: Yes, my advice to all young professionals is to get involved and stay involved! There was a piece of advice that I learned very early on that has never left my mind. It’s not about whom you know, but who knows you! Be engaging and memorable! Always remember that people will forget what you say, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.

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Adam Gordon

Sales Executive
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?

A: Las Vegas is the No. 1 trade destination in North America and it is my job to ensure we stay No.1. I am a sales executive for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority responsible for tradeshow sales at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I work with clients from the Western Region booking tradeshows that exceed 100,000 square feet of space. The LVCVA’s broader goal is to drive visitation by promoting Las Vegas as the best place to conduct business or take a vacation, personally the broader role of “living the brand” is my favorite part of my job. With a record 41 million visitors last year, we are on track and I’m proud to be part of it.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I love being a part of organizations like IAEE. There are so many different ways that it drives me. You can be assisting the Student Chapter, attending a community service event, hosting CEM week and there are always people you can learn from and get to know. It is really an amazing experience.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
A: I love experiences where you can really build a relationship while having a good time. I’m up for really anything that allows me to network with people I otherwise wouldn’t get to spend time with. I especially like golf outings, sporting and special events, and community service projects as ways to network.

Q: What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
A: This year Las Vegas was lucky enough to be able to host CEM week. It was such an awesome experience to have suppliers, allied partners and clients on our home turf to show why Las Vegas is truly a destination that people enjoy coming to.

Q: What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
A: Selling Las Vegas and everything it has to offer!! I have been fortunate to be able to plan some amazing events including taking clients to ballgames, the NCAA Championship game, doing a Wild Animal Safari event and a cooking class just to name a few. Las Vegas is like no other destination because we have such an abundance and variety of activities. On any given night, I can take an out-of-town client out for a five-star meal at a celebrity chef restaurant and then head off to a world class show.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: I graduated from THE BEST hospitality school in the world, UNLV… (OK, shameless plug!) Either you are out of the industry in 5 years or you are hooked for life. I just passed 10 years in the convention/tradeshow world and I still love every minute of it. Being able to work with such great people on such amazing events makes every day a fun day to come to work. I always say how lucky we are to have such great people in our world. If you aren’t hospitable, you don’t belong in the hospitality industry!

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A: The best advice I ever received was treat every client as if they are your mother, always pull out all the stops for their visits and go above and beyond. The best advice I would give someone would be to learn from the industry veterans. Realizing that they have so much institutional and industry knowledge that could take you 30 years to amass, it is a great way to get ahead of the game.

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Josh Carruth

Operations Manager
Surf Expo

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?
A: Working in Operations means we support and implement our Brand Leaders’ and/or Marketing department’s vision for the show. I focus on planning and on-site execution for our special features and events. I handle demo areas, such as skate parks, standup paddle pools, wake pools; show managed and sponsored lounges, and other partnered and/or featured areas. I serve as a main liaison for our vendors and our sponsoring clients to ensure their expectations are met.

If you are not familiar with our show, take a look and see what you think:
www.surfexpo.com

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I’m a member of the Southeastern Chapter and have been to Expo! Expo! I have attended quarterly luncheons. Our regional luncheons are great networking opportunities and a fantastic way to see how other people tackle the issues we all encounter in our industry. Every show manager seems to go through the same obstacles and achievements, regardless of the industry they serve. It’s nice to see that others have similar challenges to overcome and it is also beneficial to get a different perspective of the same issue. Granted, others may not have had to set up and adjust a skate ramp using a forklift and union labor, but most of the challenges we face are relatively universal.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
A: IAEE has given me an opportunity to connect with likeminded people in the same industry. The camaraderie is helpful and educational.

I think that personal mentors, through networking and within my company, have been most beneficial in my career. I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing mentors that have helped me learn as much as possible throughout my career. I feel like bridging the generation gap is really crucial to success and essential to being a mentee. It’s incredibly important to my professional confidence to know that people have my back. I think it’s vital to know that senior management will keep an eye out to recognize younger folks’ desire to grow, but, at the same time, temper our innate overzealousness.

Q: What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
A: Expo! Expo! in Atlanta was my best experience so far. It’s really exciting to see our partners present and share their knowledge. It’s great to see the folks you work with every day recognized as a person of note in their field. For example, our facility event manager was asked to be part of a panel discussing the challenges “each side” of the business encounters. He represented the “facility” side along with a show management company and decorator representative. In fact, some of his examples included best practices used at our show specifically.

Q: What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
A: We do our Surf Expo Demo Days at OWC [Orlando Watersports Complex, an outdoor park built for wakeboarding] which is a day of fun for sure. One year we were able to charter a helicopter and fly over the demo to shoot video footage. Types of ideas like this speak to the collaborative team we have here. It’s pretty cool that our execs jumped on board with something like that with no hesitation. I casually pitched the idea of doing it in a staff meeting and our marketing director had an instant grin on his face. It’s nice to have ideas that may be a little outrageous come to fruition and nice to be the man behind the scenes to make it happen.

Luckily, Orlando has several helicopter tour companies. I made a few calls and found someone willing to go off the beaten path, and collected the necessary approvals to do so for the price given to me. We were able to shoot over OWC and take advantage of the situation and snag some footage of the convention center as well. We wound up editing the whole package in to a very slick promotional video for September 2011 show. That was a pretty fun day.

We’ve rented out venues to do private concerts with some pretty awesome bands, and we’ve done surf contests at one of the big Orlando water parks where pros and legends dress up in costumes and surf the wave pool during an industry party. It’s the combination of all these experiences that are enjoyable and I love how it directly ties back to the industry we serve.

Most of the people working for Surf Expo are passionate about some aspect of our business, the beach and water sports lifestyle. It’s pretty cool to share some common love of the job with my coworkers, but everyone has their own specific passion within the industry.

We are able to serve as a platform for our partners to gather and hold their industry events and special nights. On a personal level, it’s exciting for me to be around industry leaders and see how they’ve embraced what we produce as an extension of their culture and business. It’s pretty awesome to be involved with these brands when they are able to use these events to unveil the newest in product development that’s soon to market or simply taking a night to recognize and honor the leaders amongst themselves. It feels like our customers really take pride in the show and that, to me, says we are serving a great need.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: I’ve been with Surf Expo for over 10 years and came on as full-time staff almost five years ago (four and a half to be exact). I started at Surf when I was in college part time as a runner at the shows. Through a mutual family friend, and some talk on the back of a wakeboard boat, I ended up pushing magazine bins across the show floor. Here I was, this 20-year-old kid surrounded by next year’s brand new everything. I found myself surrounded by this sea of brands that filled my closet and was captivated by the culture of the show. I instantly fell in love – of course, it was the right show for me.

From that point on, I made myself useful (to the point that I painted our office’s walls). I wanted to be involved with anything I could to be connected to the industry. My gig then grew from the twice a year thing to six months out of the year, 30 hours a week through college. After school, I was fortunate enough to be hired on full time. I found myself enjoying the operational side of planning the event as much as the content itself. I recognize how lucky I am to enjoy going to work every day and tackling challenging obstacles that may, in some small way, help an industry I respect so greatly.

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A: First, on a fundamental level, you have to be customer service oriented to work in this industry. You have to genuinely like helping people. If you don’t like doing that, find something new. Don’t ever be the ‘not my job’ type of person – it doesn’t work and it doesn’t cut it. This sounds a little cliché, but we’re in show business. The show must open and it’s all hands on deck. By the nature of our jobs, people in this industry are a group of innately social, creative and genuinely helpful people – which definitely makes IAEE events more interesting.

Second, understand your business. I cannot stress enough how important it is for the entire team to be on the same page. Ultimately, we’re all in the business of helping our customers do business. Yes, we all want a huge, successful, sold out show, but you have to constantly evolve your process in order to improve and innovate. Having a strong team that recognizes the need for innovation is crucial. The progression of the show is what keeps the job interesting to me and I think it’s very interesting how we stay relevant to our audience throughout the years. Finding ways in your job to try new things, move out of your comfort zone and build your skill set are vital to prevent stagnation and keep yourself engaged. One of the great things about my job is that the objectives tend to stay the same but our methods of achieving the goals change and evolve as we grow.

Third, recognize that your vendors are partners, because they can make or break your show.

The closest thing I’ve ever experienced to a professional horror story was the time a sprinkler head malfunctioned on the show floor. It’s mid-morning on opening day. I was walking aisles with my boss and then it happens. We heard a pop and a gasp and then there were thousands of gallons of Florida’s finest pouring out of the “sky.” It only took a few moments to get the water stopped, but a large chunk of our exhibit floor was totally drenched by the industrial fire suppression system. We’ll just say that if there had actually been a fire, it didn’t stand a chance.

It was a freak thing, with no blame to be assigned, but in an incredible-to-witness scenario, our Surf Expo staff, the convention center, our decorator and other partners became this crazy cohesive crisis response unit. Everyone was doing more than their part and literarily working side-by-side on hands and knees. It was the ultimate ‘all hands on deck’ situation, and at one point I look up and see our show director wiping a wall down alongside the guy who was manning the freight desk that morning.

Whether it was a phone call to a vendor or helping replace carpet, it was amazing to see everyone work towards the same goal. The best part is that all this just seemed to happen organically. Everyone recognized the situation and executed flawlessly, helping where they could and providing solutions to problems that may have not been “theirs.”

When all was said and done, what felt like days equated to just less than 3 hours of the entire team firing every weapon we had to resolve the issue. Given the scale of what happened, it was impossible not to notice the quickness and professionalism with which the situation was handled. We never had time to worry, and I don’t know if we could have replicated the response had we tried to plan it in advance. When you build a true partnership with your vendors you get results that go above and beyond the standard scope of their work.

IAEE Chapter affiliation: IAEE Southeastern Chapter

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David L. Cherry, CEM

Manager, Corporate Relations & Exhibits
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?
A: I expand membership and deepen relationships by connecting our vendors to our provider members through exhibitions and other corporate support opportunities.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: I stay involved with IAEE to keep current on trends in the exhibition industry in order to bring those to my particular industry which is end-of-life care.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
A: Of course the local chapter networking opportunities are awesome as well as the national conferences likes Expo! Expo!. I’ve met so many wonderful individuals that I still keep in contact with through these opportunities.

Q: What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
A: Completing my CEM designation in time for Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas, NV. What made the experience even more special was obtaining my CEM with the same group of other young professionals that started the same time as I did on the journey. We all supported each other until the end.

Q: What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
A: My association gives us Flex Days off. I call mine, flex Fridays because that is when I hit the gym harder and longer than my usual workouts throughout the week! I’m a full time exhibition manager and part-time gym rat.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: I’ve always had a passion for and was a natural fit for the meetings, events and exhibition industry.

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A: Be open to constructive criticism, learning new ideas or concepts as well as meeting new people outside of your normal view. I’m a strong advocate for mentorship. I suggest all young professionals find a mentor in the industry to go to for guidance and advice.

IAEE Chapter Affiliation: Washington D.C. Chapter

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Sheldon Kaye

Operations Manager, IT Administrator
ConvExx

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?
A: Manage all database systems and IT hardware for trade shows and conferences. Run various areas of the different shows we produce, like the New Product Center at the SHOT Show, and the Wet T-shirt contest at Las Vegas BikeFest.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
A: Networking with my industry peers within my chapter and on the national level and meeting new people in the industry.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
A: I love meetups at bars where people can relax and mingle. It’s been especially helpful for me when I can bounce ideas for my events off someone else and get constructive feedback from a different perspective.

Q: What is your most memorable IAEE experience?
A: My first Expo Expo! in New Orleans was really the first time I got see all the different things IAEE can do, and I since then I have always wanted to get more involved.

Q: What are a few fun perks at your job/association?
A: I’m lucky that I get to work with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is an industry I’m very passionate about. I also get to travel internationally and work with people all over the world.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
A: I completely fell into the Meeting & Events industry via the IT world. I had gone to a hospitality career fair solely because they had an open bar, and ended up meeting ConvExx who needed IT assistance. Since then I have gotten into the operations side and love it!

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A: Network as much as you can, and find a mentor who can help you along the way.

IAEE Chapter Affiliation: Member of the IAEE Southwest Chapter
IAEE Involvement: CEM, 2014 KLI Class, Young Professional Committee member, 2014 20 under 30 program

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Marissa Maybee

Director, Insights and Analytics
Bear Analytics

Q: What are your responsibilities in your current role?
We’re a small startup, so we all wear many hats. I work with data every day– cleaning, consolidating, and analyzing data that has been generated by events and other association verticals like membership and social media. I also contribute to client relations, project management, and Bear Analytics’ overall marketing efforts.

Q: What drives your involvement with IAEE?
IAEE is where the events industry comes together, so it’s important to attend local chapter events and be a part of it all. Since I am on the consulting/supplier side now, the events are even more valuable—I can keep up with former clients, touch base with current clients, and network with potential clients all in one fell swoop.

Q: What events or networking opportunities are most beneficial or appealing to you as a young professional?
There are so many new technologies that are being deployed in the events space and I value the opportunity to hear how they’ve worked for my peers and to take the temperature on “what’s next.” And I’m already looking forward to attending EXPO EXPO for the first time this year since it’s taking place so close to DC. I’m helping put together a panel on event data and strategy, so I guess you could say I plan on diving in!

Q: What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
My company hosted/moderated one of our local chapter’s luncheons. We were talking about millennials and event engagement, and the audience got really involved, sharing what had worked for their events, expressing common frustrations, and asking tons of in-depth questions. Since I am a millennial, I felt like I knew a lot about the topic already, but the collective event knowledge and experience in the room was pretty humbling.

Q: What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
We work in a start-up office space, so there is an arcade, beer on tap, and dozens of other small companies and start-ups to meet. Also, I’m inquisitive by nature, so I enjoy getting to dive in to different industries since our clients hail from the media to healthcare industries to everything in between.

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?
I didn’t love my first job out of college (it was in PR), so I decided to explore my options and talked with a temp agency. The first interview they sent me on was for a coordinator position at an association that held events all around the world; even the junior staff were expected to travel. I was amazed that I’d found such a cool organization and that international travel could be a component of my job at that point in my career. Needless to say, I got the job and loved it. My experience there put me on the path to getting hooked on industry and event data, earning my MBA, and making the leap to join a data analytics startup my association coworkers had founded.

Q: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
If you go out of your way to help people professionally—passing along opportunities, resumes, making introductions—it can help you ten-fold in the future.

And, don’t be afraid to take risks. If you’re never scared of failure or are never put in a position where you could fail, then you aren’t being challenged enough. One quote that I find really inspirational is, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

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Kyle McMillan

Trade Show Planner
Produce Marketing Association

Q. What are your responsibilities in your current role?
A. I manage exhibitor logistics for our annual expos, making sure exhibitors have all of the necessary information in order to have a successful show. This includes managing vendors, event web pages, expo contests, and exhibitor communications.

Q. What was your most memorable IAEE experience?
A. As part of the 20 under 30 Program, recruitment experts and experienced planners gave us amazing career advice and success tips. They pointed out things that I wouldn’t normally consider, and it’s always helpful to hear the what-not-to-do’s from people who learned from their mistakes.

Q. What are a few of the fun perks at your job/association?
A. I love the opportunity to travel. Our next show is in Anaheim, and it’s always fun to explore downtown Disney and enjoy California once the show’s over. I also get to see all the new and exotic types of produce-related items that I wouldn’t normally see in Delaware.

Q. How did you get involved in the industry?
A. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in the industry. From the time I was old enough to work, I’ve been trying out positions in various parts of the industry until I found one I loved. After an internship at a country club, I knew I wanted to be involved in planning events; and then a course at Virginia Tech helped me realize that I preferred shows of a larger scale.

Q. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
A. Get involved and ask questions. It’s the only way you’ll figure out what you love; and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

IAEE Chapter affiliation: Washington, D.C. Chapter
IAEE involvement (KLI, 20 under 30, committees): 20 Under 30