It’s no secret that the life of a meeting and event manager is stressful and challenging. But for all the frustration and aggravation it can cause, it can also be one of the most rewarding career paths you could imagine.
How you view the job is a matter of perspective: those who succeed choose to focus on the bigger picture, rather than stumble over the smaller, immediate obstacles.
That’s how Mandy Gregan approaches her role. For nearly 12 years, Mandy has helped Experient’s clients plan and execute hundreds of successful events.
But that wasn’t her first career choice.
A graduate of Penn State University with a degree in communications, her first job in the “real world” was with an advertising agency.
It didn’t take her long to find her true calling.
“They had a small events team and it piqued my curiosity,” she said. “Eventually, I expressed interest, moved departments and I never looked back!”
The Good Days are the “Busy” Ones
There are two gears for nearly every meeting and event manager: extremely busy and “it’s 11 p.m. and I still haven’t had breakfast!”
The former is usually how you’d describe a normal day in the office. It’s one filled with meetings, conference calls and advance planning for the next event.
When she’s in the building, Mandy is always trying to work ahead for the next year, plotting out customer events. She tries to look at the big picture of her events and slowly work inward: talking through space assignments, working on menus with customers, submitting estimates for budgets and more.
Even with this macro perspective, the phrase “the devil’s in the details” could also be the mantra of every meeting and event manager. From temporary staff to audio-visual providers, Mandy examines the proposals for suppliers and makes recommendations to the customer that would work best for her clients, walking alongside them through every step of the decision process.
As the event draws near, she submits event specs, reviews BEOs from the hotel or convention center and makes sure every detail matches up.
“The days are productive when I’m not on the road.”
Even though she tries to block out time in her day to work through projects, you can almost guarantee the alarm will sound with a fire she has to put out.
“There’s a lot that can come up on any given day that is unexpected,” Mandy said. “Sometimes, the plan you have for the day and what actually happens isn’t even close. It’s all about adapting and managing your time wisely.”
Onsite: Where the Fun Really Starts
It’s the days when Mandy is onsite for her events when things kick up a notch. Up before the sun and in bed well after the moon appears, the time between is never dull.
On day one, they hit the ground running with a pre-show meeting to review the last-minute details with her partners to ensure a “flawless event.”
It’s best to have some comfortable shoes, because there’s a marathon’s worth of walking to do. Starting each day, she’ll check the meetings rooms that are going to be used to make sure each of them has the correct set up and necessary AV. Then it’s off to keep the delivery of food and beverage running smoothly and on time.
She makes sure to check in with each of the supplier partners, making certain they are ready for the day ahead and that they have everything they need.
If she’s lucky enough to have an Experient team on hand, she doles out responsibilities to each one, allowing her to see everything that’s happening at the show.
All this—of course—is when everything goes according to plan, which almost never happens. Even the most meticulous planners can’t account for every little detail that can blow up at the last minute.
“You never know what can happen when you start your day. When unplanned challenges come up, I just go into problem-solving mode and find the fastest, most effective way to take care of them for the client.”
Keep Calm and Love What You Do
No matter what issue tries to incite panic on the planning team, Mandy keeps a level head.
“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given was actually pretty simple: don’t sweat the small stuff, it all works out in the end. And it does! We do our best, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.”
Every day, Mandy is challenged with something different, but the feeling of success that comes on the other side of those obstacles is worth it.
But that’s not even the most rewarding part.
“I love the people I work with,” she said. “It’s amazing how many smart, incredible people you will meet, get to know and learn from.”
This is How We Meet is a monthly column that brings to life one of the many important roles in the meetings and events industry through the story of someone who lives it. Is there a job you want to hear more about? Let us know.