How ‘Irrepressible Chutzpah’ Led to Her Success

Author: David McMillin       

Carol Krugman

Carol Krugman accepts her 2017 Visionary Award in the educator category during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The events industry talks a lot about legacies — the lasting imprint that meetings and conferences leave behind in host destinations. In addition to highlighting those impacts that continue to make a difference for communities around the world, PCMA is proud to celebrate the individuals whose leadership will continue to resonate for future generations. More than 100 meeting professionals and suppliers have joined the PCMA Foundation’s Legacy Society, a group with CMPs, CAEs, MBAs, and other distinguished acronyms attached to their names who have planned contributions to the industry’s future in their wills or estate plans.

Those Legacy Society members are currently making an impact, too. From inspiring students during her time as a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver to being inducted into the Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders, Carol Krugman, M.Ed, CMP, CMM, has traveled the world and touched many lives in the meetings industry. Today, she shares her perspectives on starting her own business, finding inspiration from young minds, and looking forward to the next generation of event professionals.

What advice would you give the 25-year-old version of you?

Stop making excuses for being lousy with numbers, and make up for all the math courses you flunked and economics courses you avoided in college. Address the challenge of your numeric dyslexia, and do whatever it takes to develop the analytical skills you sorely lack. You will need them!

What has been the biggest surprise twist in your career? Any unexpected turns that you wouldn’t have predicted when you started in the industry?

I never expected that I would voluntarily leave a highly paid, highly perked steady job with no idea of what to do next. The result was my own company, which I founded by default, and for which I was totally unprepared. I had no clue what running a business would require, which was probably a good thing: I was too ignorant to be scared. I learned on the fly and had a ball. Thanks to the right combination of other skills, a lot of energy, irrepressible chutzpah, and the good fortune to meet, work, learn from, and partner with extraordinary professionals all over the world, I ended up in the industry. The rest, as they say, is history!

Carol Krugman

Carol Krugman in 2018

Who has had the biggest impact on you in the events industry and why?

I would have to say my former students at Metropolitan State University of Denver, who inspired me every day with their curiosity and enthusiasm, have had the biggest impact. I was 60 years old and about to retire when I went into academia. Having to stay current with the expanding body of knowledge, advances in technology, and all the other rapid changes in the industry kept me active and involved for an additional 10 years.

When you look back on your involvement with PCMA, what stands out as your favorite memory or favorite event?

My favorite memory was receiving the 2017 Visionary Award in the Educator category and connecting with 1,000 or so colleagues as I vamped and ad-libbed through my acceptance speech. It was an unexpected honor and an amazing event from start to finish: beautifully organized, impeccably produced, and a perfect excuse to wear matching tiaras with my then 4-year-old granddaughter.

The events industry is evolving quickly. What’s the biggest — and most valuable — change you’ve experienced in your career? And what most excites about the next generation of meetings and events?

Technology is an obvious answer. I am old enough to have started out with IBM Selectric typewriters. Telex and fax machines were the state-of-the-art equipment in those days. But perhaps the even bigger and more valuable change has been the evolution of what we do from a job to a profession.

What is most exciting about the next generation of meetings and events is precisely that there will be a next generation. We have achieved a critical mass of knowledge, specific skills, strategic acumen, and professional credibility to continue the growth and development of the industry.