Stormi Boyd, CMP, CMM is the Director of Professional Services for Red Velvet events. She has been in the event industry for over 18 years. Stormi has earned both her CMP and CMM designations and has planned events ranging in size from 2 to 15,000 people. She serves on the Executive Board as the Treasurer for the Gulf States Chapter of PCMA and is proud to teach event professionals how to go paperless. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with event professionals and is an expert with live event production and mobile tablet technology. You can find her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @stormirve
So you want to be an Event Professional? Great!! You have chosen a noble yet widely misunderstood profession! As a passionate member of this industry with close to two decades of experience I can assure you that it will be a career full of exciting events, passionate clients, and long yet rewarding days.
Like most people “back in my day” I really fell into this industry. There were no college courses specific to event planning and I did not just wake up one day deciding that this was what I was going to do with my life. I started at a job that allowed me to dabble in some events. I preceded to get a wonderful mentor and realized that I had found not only my passion but something that I was naturally good at. Two decades later I could not imagine being in another industry. Has it always been easy? Absolutely not; but why would you want it to be? Event Professionals like challenges. Some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have been figuring out problems onsite. I have been a road warrior, witnessed literal fires, helped attendees with life threatening medical emergencies, and work days that stretched 26+ hours. And yet I have also had moving experiences that brought me to tears, events that have raised significant funding for non-profits, and clients that truly appreciate the skills I brought to the table. Every trial and every success has been worth it. You are making the same choice to be in this profession and I hope you are ready for the roller coaster ride!
The first step for anyone just starting in this industry is to find others who have done it before you. Focus on getting as much face time with them as possible. A mentor, manager, teacher, or peer in the industry can provide you with real life explanations of what an actual event cycle should look like. We have all been there and have learned from our mistakes. Yes, I said mistakes because those are what we learn from the most. Be prepared to make them and be sure to learn from them. What I have found is that this industry is an open book, all you have to do is ask. We are some of the most caring and passionate professionals who cheerfully share our knowledge. Still to this day I find myself in need of consultation and have a number of people I can call on from all different areas of the industry. Always be learning and NEVER burn a bridge. When you have the opportunity to get hands on at an event as a volunteer or contractor, DO IT! It will be some of the best hands-on education you can find. It will show others in the industry that you are willing to do what it takes. They will remember you as a resource.
Education is key to staying in the front of the pack in the event industry. True event professionals understand that the next best thing is only going to be around for a short period of time. Educate yourself on emerging trends and future creative opportunities. Be ready to have open discussions with others on what works and what could have been done better. Always critique your own performance as an educational opportunity because there is always room for growth. Attend industry specific training, get a designation, join an association, volunteer for a board position as soon as you can, all of these are examples of ways to always be learning. My time on the PCMA board at the local level has given me an even greater view point of the industry I have come to love.
I am often asked what keeps me passionate and motivated in this sometimes challenging industry. To me the response is simple and it’s this: I truly care about the outcome. Regardless if I am planning a small private event or a massive 15,000+ attendee multi day convention the goal will always be the same. Am I delivering the highest level of servant leadership to my client so that they can meet their goals and objectives? I treat each event as if it were the most important and exciting of my career. Everything is my job and I care about every experience that the clients, attendees, vendors, and venues have. In my opinion those who don’t really care, I mean REALLY care about an events outcome, will not last long in this industry.
So find a mentor, educate yourself, check your ego at the door and be prepared to do whatever it takes to help your clients reach their goals. Care about the outcome and invest in the future of the industry you have gravitated to.
Stay humble and hustle,