Fueled by the Foundation: Taking Risks to Redefine the Comfort Zone

Author: David McMillin       

Get to know Travis Russell, a rising star in the meetings industry who uses change and challenge as his daily motivation.

Travis Russell

Travis Russell is ready for anything. After graduating college, he snubbed his comfort zone to move across country for his first full-time job in the industry, even though it was not a role he’d envisioned for himself. Why, then? Because, he said, “You have to do what scares you. If you really want to evolve professionally and as a person, you have to take risks.”

Something ventured, something gained: Travis, a former recipient of the PCMA Education Foundation’s Convening Leaders Student Scholarship Award, is now building on his bachelor’s degree in business administration and hospitality, as he experiences the benefits of being mentored in a sales-focused role — one he’s surprised how much he likes. For now, he’s amped on the journey itself, and taking every opportunity to learn new facets of the industry. “I’m motivated by change and challenge,” he said. “I love that it’s never the same job from one day to the next.”

Why did you pursue the hospitality field?
When I was thinking, “What do I want to do when I wake up every day?” I decided to pursue a field that values my strengths and also challenges me. I’ve been passionate about travel my entire life, and I love the idea that my contribution can make someone’s travel experience outstanding.

Who has been a waymaker for you?
Janet Jakobsen, PCMA Foundation’s Educator Lifetime Achievement Award winner, who was also the first female Canadian honoree, was one of my college professors. She introduced me to PCMA and brought the scholarship to my attention. She showed me how to maximize the conference experience; how to network and the importance of volunteering. Her support made a big impact on me.

A big part of my current job involves being mentored and coached. They’re investing in developing me. That’s a great feeling, a confidence boost, and also a motivator to prove them right.

What advice would you give to someone else starting out in this field?
Keep with it! Take on challenges and seek opportunities to do new things. Just take the bull by the horns and go for it! You may not end up where you originally planned, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Professional Motto: Do what scares you. Take risks. Go all in. I made a decision to move cross country to accept my current job. It was a major life change, but I’m glad I did it. There’s way more to lose if you don’t take risks.

Professional Super Power: Connecting with people. I’m able to gauge and understand situations and behave and proceed accordingly. To succeed at my job and in this field, you have to connect with people first.

Inspiration: People who are passionate, who love what they do and are really good at it. You can see their excitement. That inspires, motivates, and teaches me.

Interested in learning more about how the Education Foundation is making an impact in the lives of students in the business events industry? Click here.

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