The Buck Stops Here: The Life of a Strategic Events Manager

strategic events managerIf you’ve ever wondered who plans the events for an event management company, look no further. Let us introduce you to Dan Potter, Senior Strategic Events Manager at Maritz Global Events.

Anyone who has attended one of our many strategic events has seen the magic that Dan has conjured alongside his equally talented peer, Karen Watson, Sr. Director Strategic Events.

Dan’s role oversees the meticulous planning, management and logistics of five internal events across the Maritz Global Events family, including its upcoming e4, and Experient’s annual Envision conference.

Even though he helps run a handful of complicated events, this life wasn’t really part of Dan’s plan.

“I fell into this really,” Dan said. “I needed a job out of school and I had a buddy who worked at a major convention hotel. I applied for an entry level position and once there I was cursed with continual promotions!”

Nearly 20 years ago, Dan joined Experient and continued his “curse” to where he is now.

strategic events manager

The Days (and Nights) of a Strategic Events Manager

When he’s not onsite for one of his events, Dan works virtually from his home office in Omaha, Nebraska.

His typical day isn’t your average 8-5. He tries to keep a normal schedule, but more often than not, the “spirit moves him,” to work into the evening.

The virtual life may seem lonely at times, but Dan has his dogs to keep him company.

Dan’s furry coworkers.

“They make great office mates,” he said. “Them and having CNN in the background all day.”

While his home office may seem like a relaxed atmosphere, onsite is far from it.

“As with all of our planners, once we’re onsite, the buck stops here!”

Dan and his team are up well before the sun and the guests, prepping the details for the day to come. The days are long (going well into the night) as he “makes the magic happen” managing his onsite team and working with vendors and facilities teams to ensure each event is flawless.

“Every city and every new conference year is a challenge,” Dan said. “It is important to push yourself further each time or you get bored and it becomes stale.”

strategic events manager

Challenges and Rewards

Like most event professionals know, planning the same shows each year is difficult.

“Our challenges are no worse nor better than any other planner,” he said. Making things fit in the space allocated, exploring new ideas and their implementation; these are all things we continue to wrestle with each year. There are a lot of meetings out there and we are rewarded knowing our hard work pays off in the incredible attendance our events garner.”

So how does Dan view success for events like e4 and EnVision?

“With EnVision, it is the extraordinarily positive feedback we continuously receive from industry participants. That information is vital, because without their support there would be no EnVision.”

At an event like e4, the moment registration opens to clients, there is a mad rush to reserve a spot.  With a limited guest list, it’s impressive to see hundreds of guests register the day it opens.

“We know our client feedback highlights the education,” Dan said. “We try not to focus on what’s simply new, but what’s next! We are lucky that we have a large creative license when we design e4; not many planners have that luxury.”

strategic events manager

See the Forest, Not the Trees

In a job like this, there are a slew of decisions to be made and focusing too heavily on trivial things can be the kiss of death.

Dan’s mantra is simple: don’t sweat the small stuff!

“I think it is important not to let the small things bog us down,” he said. “Think big picture. Nothing will get accomplished if a decision can’t be made quickly and effectively over something that can be considered inconsequential in that big picture. Decide, and move on.”

Simple wisdom like that is what has kept Dan moving forward in his career and enjoying each step in the journey.

Whether he’s finding creative solutions to new challenges, traveling to new locations across the world or connecting with the many colleagues and friends he’s made along the way, Dan Potter is definitely doing what he loves.


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