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January 2014

PCMA's 20 in Their Twenties: The Future of the Meetings Industry

By Christopher Durso, Executive Editor
industry is that I get to learn a little bit about many different things. Each meeting has so many different parts and pieces that I am constantly learning. For example, one day I had to teach myself some HTML code to fix the conference website, and the next day I learned about the hundreds of different postage options and regulations for nonprofit mailings. With meeting requirements and trends constantly changing, I will always be learning something new!

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

I think the best day I have had in the meetings industry so far was the first day I arrived at my most recent large conference. After working for months and months, it was so rewarding to see everything start to come together. I also got to meet face-to-face some of the members I had been emailing with for almost a year and see their excitement for spending a few days focusing on a subject they are so passionate for. I look forward to many more “best days” in my career.

Where would you like your career to go?

My ultimate career goal is to be a thought leader in my organization and the industry as a whole. I want to be the one creating the trends and initiatives, with an eye on the future. I can do this as a leader in my organization, such as strategic planner of meetings, as well as in the meetings community by being an elected chapter president or PCMA chairwoman. I have come a long way in just three years — in my job (meetings assistant to conference manager) and industry organizations (committee volunteer to committee chair). The possibilities seem endless!


Rick Hyland
Exhibitor Services Supervisor, Orange County Convention Center Orlando, USA

What do you like most about your job?

I love how fast-paced and dynamic my job is every day. I'm a part of over 200 events on an annual basis, so I see just about every type of event you can imagine. With such vast differences between this many shows, my job is never repetitive. It keeps me refreshed and engaged — I love it. It's also great to meet and work with so many different individuals in our industry on a daily basis.

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

I've been fortunate to be a part of some of the most influential events in our industry. It's hard for me to pick an exact day, but I've had a lot. My best days are when I can go home with a sense of accomplishment, an empty inbox, and satisfied exhibitors, attendees, clients, and employees.

Where would you like your career to go?

No matter where my career ends up, I hope I'm on the forefront of integrating new technologies into the events industry. I'm passionate about learning new web technologies and services to leverage them in my daily operations. I think we're only in the infancy stages of integrating these services into the events industry, so I hope I'm a part of fostering and maturing these technologies.


Leslie Wong, CMP
Creative Account Manager, Blueprint Studios San Francisco, USA

What do you like most about your job?

The part I love most about my job is seeing my clients’ expectations exceeded. There is no other feeling that makes the work worth it.

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

So far, my best project was working on a fundraiser for The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund. It's an incredible philanthropy organization that creates jobs and employment opportunities for people facing great barriers to work. It was powerful to see the impact this event and the organization had. The event was held in a gorgeous, historic San Francisco theater venue, The Warfield, so designing a 300-person, formal, seated dinner was also an exciting challenge.

Where would you like your career to go?

I would like to work on interesting, innovative events that impact lives through disruptive information and learning, on a global scale.


Sam NcNeill
Creative Director, Song Division Sydney, Australia

What do you like most about your job?

I really love the holistic nature of meetings and events — receiving a brief, designing a unique and exciting proposal, working with the client and other suppliers on the process, and being part of the execution as a host, emcee, or facilitator. Having an idea and witnessing it come to life is one of the most exciting and empowering feelings in any industry.

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

Hard to go past our event with Sir Richard Branson and 1,500 Virgin Australia [VA] employees. We helped them surprise Richard by writing and performing a completely original song about how much they love VA. He ended up crowdsurfing, and personally gave me a big kiss on stage for my efforts!

Where would you like your career to go?

I just want to keep meeting extraordinary people, learning from the best, and experiencing all this industry has to offer. I already get to travel a lot (including PCMA Convening Leaders in Boston this month, all the way from Sydney!), but hopefully I will be able to work overseas at some stage as well.

It would be nice to be remembered as someone who gave back to the industry and to people less fortunate, too. Plus a Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar, and a Grammy (just joking.... or am I?).


Elisa Sandoval
Sales Manager, Hotel Nikko San Francisco San Francisco, USA

What do you like most about your job?

I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity to work for a hotel that fosters professional growth, education, and finds value in organizations like PCMA. Hotel Nikko San Francisco has definitely made all aspects of my job enjoyable. However, if I had to narrow it down, it would be networking and learning. I love making new connections and building professional relationships with others through conventions or trade shows. I also love learning something new every day. Whether it is understanding a new contract clause or learning about a new industry trend, I know that my mind is constantly stimulated.

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

About a year ago, after two months of intense negotiations, I received an email with a signed contract attached. That day definitely sticks out in my mind. The booking was my largest in revenue at the time, and certainly assisted in a successful month for our sales team. The accomplishment from my first big win and the satisfaction of knowing that my hard work had paid off will reign in my mind forever.

Where would you like your career to go?

About ayear ago at a Q&A with my general manager, Anna Marie Presutti, I asked, “What advice would you give a young professional on how to become successful in their career?” She replied, “You can't look too far ahead. You need to focus on being the master of your current job before you think about the next step.” I find her advice extremely relevant and tremendously wise. I have taken her words to heart and implemented its suggestion. While it is still important to have a clear idea of an ultimate goal, her advice speaks to the importance of being responsible and accountable along the way. By adhering to this mantra, I am confident that success will follow me. With that being said — for my career goal, the sky is the limit. I want to continue learning and advancing. I have a long road ahead of me, and am excited for every good or bad experience that will shape my career and my personality.


Astrid Schrier, CMP
Meeting Manager, Association Headquarters Inc. Mt. Laurel, N.J., USA

What do you like most about your job?

The part of my job that I like the most is the ability to interact with so many different people throughout the planning and implementing of the meetings that I work on. Between members, volunteers, hoteliers, vendors, and colleagues, I have the opportunity to interface with so many people that I do not think that I would have the opportunity to otherwise.

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

The best day

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