Heather VanderVoet

Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s

This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Heather VanderVoet, senior coordinator of event services at Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s, shares her perspective on the power of in-person events.


What do you like most about your job?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from so many amazing people in this industry. Each event comes with its own challenges, and each person comes with their own unique personality. Finding new ways to connect with and build a rapport with clients is exciting and refreshing each time. The team of people I work with are also exceptional; they make going to work every day easy.

What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?

I’ve learned that the power of connecting at in-person events is invaluable. After the past few years of not being able to get together in large groups, I think people appreciate in-person events even more than before. The value and insight you receive from being one on one with a person, instead of sitting behind a screen, is incredible and gives you the ability to make long-lasting connections that can positively impact your career.

What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?

Having the ability to adapt has been so crucial during the past few years. I’ve had to adapt numerous times throughout the pandemic, dealing with changing rules and regulations and communicating this to clients while coming up with plans A through Z to ensure their event was successful. Also I think my ability to communicate effectively has driven my success over the past few years. Being able to communicate to clients the different options available for them and knowing when to change my tone to suit the needs of the client is a skill I’m proud to have and will continue to nurture and improve upon in the years to come as I grow as a professional.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a director of events, leading a team of event professionals. As the company I currently am working for expands, there will be a need for an expansion of our team and I would like to take the responsibility and ownership as the director of events, using my years of experience to maintain client relationships and oversee all the events at a particular facility. My goal is to achieve my CMP in the next couple of years, which will help me to learn more about the industry and put my best foot forward when leading a team. Within this new role, I would love to be a mentor to young industry professionals, coaching them on best practices and helping them achieve their goals while executing successful events.

What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?

Experience as many different types of events as possible before deciding which route to take in this industry. There are so many different avenues you can take, whether it’s non-profit, corporate, association, weddings, festivals, or sports and entertainment. I came into this industry thinking I wanted to be a wedding planner but made a pivot once I experienced the corporate/conference world. I had the opportunity to volunteer during my time with Niagara College and had hands-on experience with a variety of events that helped me to narrow this down as well. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you might surprise yourself. Volunteer your time and get your hands dirty and experience all the different components of an event because you’ll learn so much and will end up with a greater appreciation for all the different people and aspects that bring an event to life.

Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2023, supported by PCMA Foundation and Experience Columbus, were recognized at PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, Jan. 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio.

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