Present: Principal, Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects
Past: Director Special Events & Merchandising – CHUM Television – CTV
Expertise: Large scale event management, brand management, logistics and decor
Specialty: Creativity, precision, flawless execution
Tell us about yourself:
I am the Principal of Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects, a full-service event management and design firm that redefines traditional event standards.
Tell us about your work:
We are award-winning specialists in designing, managing and executing high-profile corporate events. We understand that the event is an extension of the client’s brand. We work with our clients to successfully promote their brand and we ensure that all elements of each event accurately reflect the client’s brand starting from the guest/delegate entrance experience to content in the takeaways or items in a gift bags. We work with our clients to identify branding opportunities and relay key corporate messaging through various elements of the event. The events we produce drive sales and solidify relationships for our clients.
How did you get to where you are today?
Prior to launching my own business five years ago, I acted as Director of Special Events and Merchandising for CHUM Television and CTV. That role afforded me the experience and knowledge on how to plan and execute grand scale high-profile events flawlessly on modest budgets. We have produced events that have had over 16 levels of accreditation, street closures and rerouting of TTC. I have 18 MuchMusic Video Awards under my belt!
Why are you good at what you do?
I have a lot of experience, and experience is really the best teacher. I have learned a lot over the years and have been fortunate to have had some fantastic mentors.
Attention to detail is key as is being super organized, especially when you have multiple projects in play at once. Being creative and loving what you do also helps. I also have systems and practices in place that I adhere to religiously. A detailed shared production schedule is one of my practices that is a major catalyst in the success of planning and execution.
I also have a fantastic support team. We share a thorough understanding of what is important in order for the event to be successful.
Maintaining successful and respectful relationships with vendors is also so important for success. Knowing that you can count on your vendors and they will deliver and make you look good is a huge element of the process.
A consistent, calm and professional demeanor is also key for event professionals. As the lead “on the ice” we set the tone for the client’s comfort level and the rest of the staff.
Keeping one step ahead of the trends and always being in the know regarding what is new and next is also hugely important.
Being educated in technology and knowing which technology could enhance your events is also critical.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Event planning is all about challenges. Knowing how to successfully manage the unexpected challenges and optics is the secret to success.
The Toronto event industry has become a robust market. When I first started in the industry there were few vendors. Planners had to be super creative. I am proud to be part of an industry that has matured and become world class in a very short period of time.
Walk us through a typical day at work.
There is no such word as “typical” in my days. Every day is different; it depends on the projects we are working on and what the priorities are for the day.
What have been some of your biggest achievements?
Launching Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects and growing it into the successful event management firm it is today.
As mentioned earlier, I have planned and managed the MuchMusic Video Awards, over 18 times. I have been inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame for my contributions to corporate event planning and most recently was honoured by The Baycrest Hospital for my contributions to their event roster.
What do you like best about the meetings industry, particularly in your region or city?
Toronto has an amazing array of venues and suppliers. There is something for every budget and every occasion.
Who are some of your notable clients?
Rogers, Sony Pictures Television, Corus Entertainment, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Women’s Brain Health Initiative to name a few.
How do you deal with the challenges of work-life balance?
Due to the nature of the industry, we have busy periods and not-so-busy periods. Understanding that is very important. It is critical to fuel up during the not-so-busy periods so that you can be consistent and productive during the busier periods. Producing events is both mentally and physically demanding, a healthy lifestyle and taking care of yourself is so important.
What are some of your most memorable events and why?
I have been planning events for over 25 years. The most memorable events are the ones that have many moving parts happening at the same time. There are too many to mention. In terms of emotionally satisfying, we are satisfied when the objectives have been met or surpassed, the client is happy and everything went according to plan.