Present: ZedEvents Great Productions
Past: Halifax Chamber of Commerce, RBC Royal Bank, TD Bank
Expertise: Creative development
Specialty: Operational systems
Tell us about yourself:
I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I love to travel (near and far). I actually enjoy elementary Christmas concerts, and I live for summer, or a hint of summer, via a southern get-away!
Tell us about your work:
As Managing Partner of ZedEvents I am responsible for the overall direction of the company including service offerings, human resources and client satisfaction. I oversee our team of event producers and coordinators and play an integral role in the development of our clients’ events both on a creative and strategic level.
How did you get to where you are today?
I was born with a passion and a talent for organizing things – whether it’s creating and executing an unforgettable large-scale event or arranging a kitchen cupboard. As a child, my mother never had to ask me to clean my room! I quickly and naturally became the person friends and family could rely on to plan and organize events. However, it wasn’t until I found myself in the role of an executive assistant, organizing a busy schedule and planning regional management group meetings, that I truly had my “aha” moment. I knew that event planning would define my future and allow me to embrace and leverage my skill set on a whole new level.
Why are you good at what you do?
Because I love it! When passion is your motivation, it drives you to succeed. I also get a lot of personal satisfaction in creating order – I have the uncanny ability to see order in any situation and expertly convey how to interpret it to create something impactful. My best days are those when a client or team member says “I knew you would see the order in this chaos.” When I am listening to a client describe what it is they hope to experience at their event, my brain instantly starts to tick through the critical path (true planners will nod their heads as they read this).
Is there anything you would change in our industry, given the chance?
I would love to see a professional organization that sets and maintains standards and accreditation for planners and their companies, beyond was is currently offered. Ours is an interesting and challenging industry. The barriers to entry are few, but the risks of misadventure are many. The ability to deliver superior and professional services to clients is an art and a science. Great event planning is strategic, visionary and seamless to a client who is looking for a truly unique guest experience.
Walk us through a typical day at work.
A typical day starts the night before when a review of my calendar tells me if I will be working at my desk or on the road visiting clients and suppliers. After my daughter is off to school, I start my day with a cup of coffee and I review all our social media accounts to tweet, retweet, or post our news and the news of our clients, suppliers and partners.
I manage multiple priorities for our company, our team and our clients through the use of the very traditional “to-do” lists. I have several digital lists with items in order of priority that dictate what my activities will be each day, including my responsibilities for the various boards and organizations I volunteer with. A day at my desk means I am responding to RFPs, assisting our team members to serve their respective clients and monitoring the progress of our company service deliverables to ensure all deadlines are met.
A day on the road sees me visiting with two or three clients to help them map out the initial strategic plan for their event or help our producers present new and refined concepts to an existing plan. In between all of this I make a concerted effort to go for a walk, be sure to call my husband at his office to find out what’s for dinner (as he is the family chef!) and get ready for the arrival of my nine-year-old daughter when she will regale me with the school stories and dramas of the day.
How do you deal with the challenges of work-life balance?
I work to live not live to work. The nature of the event industry, with its ebbs and flows, allows me to set up my schedule to work around my family and personal interests. Our office environment is virtual allowing our entire team to get more done in a concentrated amount of time, at a time that works best for them.
We are able to provide our clients with keenly customized solutions via a very streamlined service model that allows every member of our team to be in control of their work schedule to ensure “life” is never an afterthought. We have a perfect track record amongst our team that no personal appointment, school concert or family event has ever been missed! On a personal level I occasionally squeeze in some of my work at night after my daughter has gone to bed – this works well for me as I am a night owl.
What have been some of your biggest achievements?
My accomplishments are my achievements. Over the years I have created, produced or directed over 100 events, half of which were fundraising events that have grossed a total of over $5 million in revenue for our clients helping others. In 2013, I was honoured by my colleagues and awarded the inaugural Planner of the Year for Atlantic Canada by MPI, certainly one of my favourite moments. Perhaps my finest achievement is winning Mom of the Year. I have been nominated and on the podium nine years running!
What are some of the challenges you face?
Our successes occasionally become our challenges. Managing a virtual office means team meetings and brainstorming sessions are no longer impromptu and require scheduling. And despite having the ability to manage my own schedule, I cannot manage the schedule of potential clients who unknown to them can issue an RFP on the eve of my vacation. Overcoming these challenges puts my best skillset to work!
What do you like best about the meetings industry, particularly in your region or city?
I would say there are two things. Perhaps the most exciting part of the meetings industry is knowing that the work we do results in significant economic spinoff, not just locally, but in some cases regionally and often nationally. From the very first meeting with a potential client to the opening day of the conference we know that because of their desire to “gather” we are stimulating the city or the region with economic benefits with impact across a wide spectrum.
Second, it is truly gratifying to know that my chosen profession can make a difference in the lives of so many people. The pride I get from being part of an industry where I can sit back and watch a plan unfold while our team flawlessly executes a client dream and delivers an extraordinary guest experiences is gratifying.
Who are some of your notable clients?
I have the pleasure of working with many not-for-profit organizations, all of who are making a difference in the lives of the people they serve in Nova Scotia including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, The Canadian Cancer Society and The Mental Health Association, just to name a few. On a star-studded level I would have to say my most notable would be The David Foster Foundation – this event brought an impressive line-up of stars and musicians to Halifax including Natalie Cole and Lionel Ritchie. And recently I had the opportunity to work with a corporate client celebrating a milestone and rewarded their staff with a private musical concert that included Dwight Yokum, Matt Mays and Kiefer Sutherland.
What are some of your most memorable events and why?
I remember early on, wrapping up my very first live production and that ultimate feeling of accomplishment, checking off the last item on a critical path. A personal favorite was the day General Romeo Dallaire told me I would make a great soldier purely on the basis of my marching orders!
As the event planning industry and my position have evolved year after year, so have my personal goals and areas of professional satisfaction. This particularly applies to our work with community organizations. ZedEvents helps many not-for-profit organizations reach their fundraising goals, and there is incredible professional and personal satisfaction in knowing we play a vital role in assisting these organizations help others.