Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2020 already have proven to be leaders, putting their own mark on the business events industry. Lauren Washburn, conference services manager at Sodexo in Washington, D.C., shares her thoughts about the industry.
What do you like most about your job?
I’m lucky to be on a team of talented and diverse professionals who encourage my growth. I’ve been able to continuously expand my skill set by working alongside them. Their support makes me feel comfortable asking them questions on areas I’m not so familiar with.
For example, the AV technicians on my team set up an AV escape room challenge where my entire team was split into groups, given meeting scenarios, and tasked to work together to complete difficult AV situations. After several rounds of challenges, and my teammates’ support and patience, I learned basic AV skills that allow me to be a more well-rounded professional in this field. This is just one small example of how my team operates. We are constantly wanting to learn from each other so we can deliver exceptional meetings and conferences.
What do you like most about the industry?
I’ve supported weddings, college programs, and activities for senior citizens, but my true passion lies in the business events industry. This industry has allowed me to build meaningful relationships with my clients and colleagues who I find are just as passionate about meetings and conferences as I am.
When my supervisor at Sodexo asked me to make the first-ever mobile event application for Sodexo’s Sport and Leisure Management Conference, I collaborated with senior executives, including the CEO of the division. Working with these accomplished professionals showed me just how special and unique forming connections in this industry can be. After this experience, they identified me as the go-to person to create mobile apps for all future conferences. These relationships I build help keep me motivated in the field and provide affirmation that my work is meaningful. They encourage me to look at my job as more than just a 9-to-5 gig, but as a space where I can truly make a difference.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
Shortly after graduating from college, I went to the Bridal Society’s Wedding Planning Certification Conference. Even though I ultimately chose to pursue business events instead of weddings, the instructor mentioned something that has stuck with me to this day. She said that it’s crucial to, “follow up and follow through,” meaning you need to continually follow up with your clients, ensuring their needs are met, as well as follow through with promises you have made to them. This is a phrase that I try to live by to show my clients, supervisor, and team members that I’m attentive and trustworthy.