DES Spotlight: Elyse Dawson, Manager, Corporate Events and Conference Center, Invesco

Digital Event Strategist Spotlight: Elyse Dawson, Manager, Corporate Events and Conference Center, Invesco

Whether you were ready for it or not, the switch to digital has begun. Events, meetings, school, doctors’ appointments — all digital. This begs the question, why aren’t you? We have seen time and time again, industries going the way of the buggy whip, why not take this moment and futureproof your skill set with the Digital Event Strategist course?

Let’s check in with Elyse Dawson, Manager, Corporate Events and Conference Center at Invesco, as she details why the DES course made all the difference in this new day and age.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and what made you pursue DES in the first place.

I’m a Manager of Corporate Events and Conference Center for Invesco, an investment management firm. In my 10 years with Invesco, I have managed a variety of in-person events ranging from client events, board meetings, internal events, and the entire spectrum of offerings as it pertains to these types of meetings and events. I recently began managing Invesco’s in-office conference centers in Houston and Atlanta, where we hold internal as well as customer events. This added another layer of complexity around my day-to-day activities, but my heart is with meetings and events. I am passionate about excellence in execution, delivering my clients’ dreams, and creating unique experiences, whether in-person or virtually.

I planned my first digital event when I was in the thick of attending classes and studying for the DES exam. I would take my DES classes Tuesday and Thursday, and then I would have my virtual event on Thursdays. I loved that I was literally learning about the things that I was incorporating into my own event. Every time I came to an event planning meeting, I came to the table with something new that I had learned in class.

We all had to pivot to digital events out of necessity. But it shows true passion and dedication when you actively seek opportunities to develop the skills to enhance the meetings and events you produce. Getting the certification shows my commitment to specializing in virtual events. I wanted to know all the ins and outs from conception to completion of a virtual event. Certification showed my clients, my team, and my colleagues that I’m taking virtual events seriously.

I’m now planning a couple of digital events at the top of 2021. I’ve been able to continue to take the knowledge gained from the DES course and the DES community and to enhance each of these events.

Can you elaborate on the kind of events you’re putting on for clients?

I plan both client and internal events on behalf of Invesco. For client events, I work directly with an Invesco business partner, as they manage the client relationship.

Client events are high-touch programs because of the visibility. When providing a higher level of service and client experience, we must really identify the best way to get our message across and the best way to present our firm to our clients. Internal events require the same type of strategic planning but may entail different deliverables. You have to be methodical about all the aspects of virtual events: What is the PowerPoint going to look like? When they log into the platform, what are they seeing? Is it intuitive? You have to design the complete user experience. If the experience doesn’t make sense to me, it won’t make sense to my attendees.

Working on virtual events while taking the DES course helped me think through all these different pieces and layers as we journeyed deeper and deeper each week into the DES course. For example, I was able to showcase the different audio options available for their presentation, an exercise we had done a week prior in the course.

Ultimately, it is up to my internal client on what they felt most comfortable with, but I felt incredibly equipped to have the conversation and show them a real-life example.

What key learnings have you applied in the client meeting you produced in October? And what else are you implementing in the two upcoming digital events at the beginning of 2021?

For my client event in October, I was prepared to ask the detailed questions around platform bandwidth, equipment, backdrop, lighting, attendee engagement, etc. Some of these may not end up being my decisions to make, but it was impactful for me to help guide the discussions on these questions, with my DES course providing me the knowledge and expertise to be a valued adviser to the event team.

For the upcoming events, it’s hard to point out one single module from the DES course that shines the most, because they’re all interwoven so well together. I’ve learned to be more strategic and have a holistic view of planning digital events.

If a friend or colleague is on the fence about taking DES, what would you say to nudge them?

When I started thinking about enhancing my skill set in March 2020, I researched my options. I looked at all the associations out there, befriended people on LinkedIn who were certified in virtual event management from various associations, and I would ask them what they learned in the course and how it helped them to deliver better virtual events.

I took in-depth approach to identify the best option for me and my employer. PCMA was the one name that kept rising to the top in my search. It took me a month before I was ready to pull the trigger and say, this is it, this is the course I’m going to take.

If someone asks me what course they should take in order to learn more about digital events, I would say that my research identified the DES course as a robust course that delves into many layers of digital experiences. I feel confident that DES equipped me to have the right conversations with the right people. In addition to learning from the course, you’re going to gain a community that’s awesome. You’ll learn so much from conversations that go beyond a book, a class or quiz from the community chat with peers or from a post in the DES LinkedIn group. These are pieces of information that you won’t find on a PowerPoint slides, and they are the nuggets that really set the DES certification apart.


The Digital Event Strategist Spotlight series features Digital Event Strategists and how they are making impact in their work through digital and hybrid events.

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