Meetings and Event Manager, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; North Bethesda, Maryland

Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2019 see a bright future for the business events industry, a future to which they plan to contribute. Janelle Lewis shares her impressions of and expectations for the industry.

What do you like most about your job?

What I love most about my job is the abundance of learning opportunities available through the variety of meetings and events we host. In my role, I navigate the planning process from start to finish, for everything from business meetings and symposia, to elegant dinners and commemorative events. As a manager, I enjoy leaning on my experience to help my team employ more effective methods of budgeting, planning, and executing their events. The highlight of my job is finding a new process that the team embraces, and that we implement across the board. Increased efficiency gives us momentum and frees up space in our minds to allow for more creativity during the planning process.

Where would you like your career to go?

Over the next few years, I would love the opportunity to manage a large convention and oversee the process from start to finish. In a previous role I worked at a convention center, where I was able to see events come to life onsite from the supplier side. I have yet to experience the entire process from the planner side. My current role focuses on managing the full-service planning of several small- to mid-sized meetings and events, rather than one large convention.

Long term, I will create my own portfolio of leisure events that provide unique experiences that focus on both self-development and community building. I envision providing memorable, life-changing experiences to attendees while simultaneously making a positive contribution to society. Currently I am mapping out event concepts so that I can bring my vision to life.

What’s the best day you’ve had in the meetings industry so far?

My best day in the meetings industry so far was the day of a new conference which we launched in 2016 — an inaugural meeting for a highly anticipated partnership with a prominent organization. My colleague who spearheaded the partnership was anxious about the event due to the high-profile nature of the project, but I was excited for this rare opportunity to design an event for a new initiative. This was one of our larger events, that involved a new audience due to the partner organization with whom we collaborated. I had the chance to come up with a joint branding strategy for the event, as well as be more creative during the planning process due to the newness of the project. I felt accomplished once we pulled off a successful-yet-challenging event, and I learned that I really enjoy strategizing event design for emerging projects and partnerships.

What will be the biggest change in the industry over the next 20 years?

As meetings continue to go more high-tech, individualization will continue to become more popular. In this globalized society where everyone has access to social media and a surplus of content is just a click away, attention spans will continue to shorten. Companies will continue to invest in devices that allow for the tracking of attendee behavior to tailor the conference experience to the individual and engage them. Whether it is related to marketing, education or leisure, data will continue to be collected to learn about a person’s likes, dislikes, interests and habits to not only gain feedback, but to make suggestions to enhance their experience in real time. This type of technology already is being implemented via wearables and other devices, but in 20 years it will become much more common, advanced, and automated.

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