Even in a female-dominated industry, women in events still follow suit when it comes to those frustrating national averages that keep women’s salaries hovering around two-thirds of what their male counterparts make. In our fourth Women in Events Special Report, we interview 17 of the industry’s top female marketers to find out if the glass ceiling really exists in events and, if so, what to do about it. From promoting your work to learning to say no to getting your seat at the table, our ladies don’t hold back. And according to everyone of them—neither should you.
Here, we kick off our online coverage with a spotlight on Pattie Falch, brand director, sponsorships and activation marketing, at Heineken USA. Read through our candid Q&A with Falch below, and be sure to check back as our coverage continues with more profiles, an exclusive roundtable discussion and detailed results from our 2014 Women in Events Survey. Or, subscribe today and get the entire Women in Events Special Report.
As the Event Marketer editorial team sat back and watched the winners of this year’s Ex Awards stream onstage to accept their awards, we noticed how many of those doing the acceptance speech were men, and how many of them were flanked by women standing behind them. It wasn’t an official study by any stretch, but it didn’t go unnoticed.
And it made us think that, despite a lot of good news over the years for women in events, when it comes to being the top “guy” accepting the award, there still ain’t a lot of “gals” holding the trophy.
Our hunch, turns out, was backed by evidence. Even though women make up the majority of an industry that’s thriving in every possible way, women in events are still following suit with those pesky national averages that keep women’s salaries hovering around two-thirds of what their male counterparts make. In fact, our poll of more than 300 women in the industry revealed that the majority, 73 percent, still believe there is a glass ceiling. According to another industry survey, women in the industry make about $13,000 less annually than men in comparable roles.
Experts speculate about the reasons for this disparity. Everything from career “off-ramping” when women have children to a lack of confidence and negotiation skills have been blamed. One of the women we profile this year suggested that because the strategic value of events varies so widely across companies, many women leading events may not be being compensated because their real value to the company isn’t known or understood (hey ladies, this is one thing you can do something about—keep reading). Whatever the reason for the problem, one thing all experts seem to agree on: the upside of having women in leadership positions in the workplace can not be understated from an economic perspective. Several recent McKinsey studies have found that when women are in top leadership positions, their respective companies outperform other companies across every criteria, especially profitability. And so it behooves all event marketers, male and female, to take a closer look at this issue, if for any other reason than to see what happens to the overall success of their organization when women are supported, paid fairly and promoted to leadership roles.
To shed some light on this topic, we turned to some of this industry’s top performers—17 leading women in event marketing who are eternally hopeful, if not adamant, that their own rises to leadership can be a model for other women in events. In our special report we profile each of the women, and then invite you to sit in on a candid roundtable discussion we held with them at a special event in New York City this July. Finally, we round out the discussion with the community perspective—the uncensored thoughts, opinions and advice gathered from this year’s Women in Events Survey. Hopefully we can pay it forward with some of the tools you need to help turn this industry into one that exceeds the “average.” —Jessica Heasley
Pattie Falch recalls the first real event of her now 18-year career with Heineken—the VH1 Red Star Concert on New Year’s Eve in 1998, which was sponsored by Heineken at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Fans of the brand were rocking to Hootie & the Blowfish, the clock was counting down to midnight and Falch, an event coordinator, was six months pregnant.
Welcome to the world of women in event marketing, where the show must go on, along with the demands of motherhood, family life, pregnancy and the occasional swollen ankles.
The Dutch beer brewer’s presence in the U.S.A. in the late ‘90s was small, with only three people on the Heineken team—a cmo, a brand manager and Falch as event coordinator. Fast forward to 2014 and the team is headed by a brand vp. Reporting in, each with their respective staffs, are a director of programs, a senior director of planning and strategy and Falch, now the mother of two boys, as brand director, Heineken sponsorships and activation marketing.
Falch’s role has grown right along with the department, from her first job as assistant to the cmo, to coordinator, associate brand manager, brand manager, then senior director. She learned on the job as she collaborated with agencies and handled the brand’s US Open and entertainment marketing activations, including a major promotion with “The Matrix,” mainly because, as she says, there was no one else to do it.
Today, Falch manages a roster of more than six agencies to activate sponsorships and events. It’s all part of Falch’s “integrated agency team” approach. At the US Open, for example, MKG handles onsite activation, however, Team Epiphany may be pulled in to host influencers targeting the African-American demographic and Wieden + Kennedy for digital extensions. Falch expects agency partners to attend the events, experience them as consumers and pitch in as needed, all with the goal of enhancing the attendee experience. “No one agency is above another. They are all equal and working that way is what allows us to drive terrific results because everybody is in it together,” Falch explains.
AmsterJam, a proprietary concert at Randall’s Island in New York City for 50,000 people that brought together disparate musicians in a live mash-up that was somewhat before its time, remains a career highlight for Falch. “My role was to make sure all the agencies executed in their own way but together,” she says. “We were creating the guidelines as we were going along.”
And a collaborative marketing strategy was born, one that remains at the heart of each of Heineken’s sponsorships and activations, including Falch’s newest baby, Heineken House, an on-site music activation platform that launched at Ultra Music Festival last year and activated at the US Open and Latin Grammys. This year it appeared at Coachella and is slated for North Coast, Outside Lands and again the Open, which all take place in August, then a return to the Latin Grammys.
“We were looking to do something a little different, and we had some insights into the fans waiting for a beer at Ultra,” Falch says. “We looked at how we can enhance the event, upgrade the consumer experience through touch points we know are interesting to them—music, art, food and technology.”
“I’m very fortunate to work at a company that has embraced and supported events and event marketing and makes sure our events are activated in the right way.”
Each Heineken House activation shares those common elements, but is also event specific. At Ultra last year, Heineken House, along with elaborate lighting, fog and live audio from the festival stage, featured a viewing platform that doubled as a stage for festival performers. Attendees could order their drinks on iPads at the door, eliminating that long wait for a brewsky. At the Latin Grammys, it incorporated a booth where artists created music. Attendees watched them and could give it a try as well. Heineken House at the US Open brought a beer-garden atmosphere to the area above the food court with picnic benches, a corn-hole toss and sandwiches by Tyler Kord, chef/owner of No. 7 Sub of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
As the only brand at Coachella that features live music in its activation, Heineken House this year continued the tradition with mash-ups from a variety of artists, but also tapped into the attendees’ passions for art, food and technology as well. A World Fusion Bar provided beer with a new twist—Heineken made with freshly pulled herbs like lemongrass, mint and chili pepper, specialty maple-glazed donuts sprinkled with bacon bits and live art creations by a Brooklyn-based artist. Fans could also store up to two cases of beer in their own fingerprint-protected lockers (Corso handles music festival activations for the brand).
Heineken House, in its first year, drew 122,000 attendees, 54,000 social mentions and 895 million p.r. impressions.
Last year also marked Heineken’s first foray into digital with Crack the US Open, which had 1,500 players searching for clues in a panorama of a stadium on their phones to win tickets to the tournament. The effort led to 74 million total impressions and a 20 percent increase in Heineken’s Instagram community. HeinekenSnapWho snapped out clues on Snapchat, such as a tightly cropped image of an artist’s clothing, to surprise performances at Coachella and had attendees snapping back guesses. At Ultra this year, a FestivalFamous program with Instagram had fans taking close-ups of the djs to win the chance to join dj Koo onstage. “It was fun, it got fans as close as possible to the action and then one of them got to become the action,” Falch says.
The events, whether digital or live or both, are all about Crossing Your Borders, an insider term used by Heineken marketers to describe their goal of getting consumers out of their comfort zone to try something new, in line with its global tagline, Open Your World. “Wherever our consumer is, we want them to have a better experience, and we try to give them the opportunity to do that,” Falch says.
Which is, in a sense, what her career at Heineken has allowed Falch to do. “I’m very fortunate to work at a company that has embraced and supported events and event marketing and makes sure our events are activated in the right way,” she says.
She calls Heineken USA very much a “family” company, one that has allowed her to raise her children and be a mom as well as have a career, and although she works from home on Fridays, she admits hers isn’t a Monday to Friday job. “When I am gone for 16 days at the US Open, I can take some time at the end of September to regroup,” she says. “Another company may not have allowed the same things.”
Even so, there have been challenges along the way. “I think the challenge of being a woman, working and having a career, is trying to do it all ‘excellent,’ and having to make those decisions, some easy, some hard, where you say, I’m going to let that go,” she says.
Falch’s team and agency partners know that for her, family comes first. There have been times when she’s dialed into conference calls from her car, telling her kids in the back seat, “Shh… don’t say a word!”
But she loves her job, too, which along with the ability to make choices and stand by them, Falch says is a requisite for any woman looking to make a career in event marketing. “You have to be confident to say no when you need to and decide what is right for you at that time,” she says. “For many years I was not interested in moving to the next level, which Heineken was really supportive of, as long as I continued to evolve and move the line. I think sometimes it’s about not getting stale in your job and continuing to grow.” —Sandra O’Loughlin
Why we chose her: For bringing the industry Heineken House, the program that revolutionized the way brands activate at music and sporting events. As an 18-year veteran of the brand, Falch has been instrumental in growing Heineken’s event strategy and showing the beverage category in particular that there is power in proprietary platforms and unique collaborations with the worlds of music, art, food and design.
Best career advice, given or received: Do what you love.
Best way to boost confidence: I surround myself with strong people and work as a team and stay current on what is going on in the area I work in.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in. You have to be strong in what you believe in and leaning in gives you the strength, courage and confidence to continue to build your career and move forward.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: There are ups and downs and goods and bads, but the most important thing is to be happy.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: You spend a lot of time doing it, so you really need to enjoy it. There are good days and bad days, but if you love what you do, it makes those bad days much easier.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Hold firm to your values and be honest about it. I’ve always been very honest in that my family is critically important to me. If you have to leave, you have to leave, and hold to that.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Negotiate.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Compromise for the wrong reasons.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My phone.
Favorite or most useful app: Twitter.
Most listened to song on the playlist: It changes frequently, but right now it is “Play It Again” by Luke Bryan.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Support and honesty from peers, agency partners and senior leaders. It is so important to have an honest dialogue. That is what helps to drive me.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: not real.”
Guiltiest pleasure: A day alone at the beach with a book.
Why we chose her: As the woman at the helm of Coca-Cola’s “Happiness Project” viral videos, she is proving that live events can be powerful content creators that generate word of mouth and brand awareness. And that there’s always room for new variations on a surprise and delight campaign.
Best career advice, given or received: Knock every project out of the park. It may be small or mundane, but you get personal satisfaction from it and inevitably others will see how hard you’ve worked to make it a success. There is no small project.
Best way to boost confidence: I ask myself if I am doing the best that I can and am I proud of what I’ve done and proud of my life. If I can answer yes to those questions, and I can, it does give me confidence. I just have to stop every once in a while and be realistic. If you can look at what you’ve accomplished, you are probably going to come out pretty well.
Lean in or lean out: I would like to be more of a Lean In person. I admire them.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Be kinder to yourself and understand that life is wonderful and awesome and beautiful, but it can be tough sometimes. Give yourself a break.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Never compare yourself to others because you will always come up short. I’ve used that with my own kids a million times. Just be the best you can possibly be. Keep pushing, but you don’t have to be unhappy with yourself in the meantime.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: It is a bit of a myth. It’s not the easiest thing to do. It is like a teeter-totter. You can try to straddle the middle, but at times it will be too much on one side or the other. Somehow it all evens out. Just remember, no one is more important than the people you come home to every day.
One thing a female event marketer should learn to do: Understand there is always a Plan B. Don’t freak out. There is always another way to get to a solution.
One thing a female event marketer should never do: Never freak out and try not to cry in front of other people.
Can’t live without professional tool: iPhone. You can do everything on it—notes, alarms, apps, check email. I’m very attached.
Most useful app: Maps and for event marketing, the weather app.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Yellow” by Coldplay. My husband says it reminds him of me.
Things that make you feel most valued on the job: When a project does really well and it gets a lot of social media chatter and press, and when my colleagues admire the work I do. I like to have something work and have it seen and experienced by others.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: dangerous.”
Guiltiest pleasure: “Game of Thrones.”
Why We Chose Her: For blending hospitality experiences, artist partnerships and social media into a powerful hybrid strategy that rewards customers, supports artists and drives sales. Case in point: last year’s Rolling Stones tour gave Citi card holders access to backstage experiences; an exclusive pre-sale drove ticket sales; and a custom app pushed fans’ song requests straight to the band.
Best career advice, given or received: Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.
Best way to boost confidence: Smile and believe.
Lean in or lean out: Lean In.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: One: Schedule one thing per day you look forward to. Two: respect your private time. And three: take a vacation.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Have a back-up plan.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Not have a back-up plan.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: iPhone.
Most listened to artist on the playlist: Ryan Adams.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Knowing the work we do is creating lifetime memories for our customers… that first concert moment, once-in-a-lifetime experience, or opportunity for parents to be their kids’ heroes for a day by seeing their sports heroes or favorite musician.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: never being satisfied.”
Why we chose her: For transforming longtime sports sponsorships in golf and tennis into highly customized live+digital engagements that tap into sports fans’ unique passion points while simultaneously giving the brand a fresh face to up-and-coming audiences. Check out her recent photo ops and swing analysis activations at Pinehurst, and sensory and RFID engagements at the US Open.
Best career advice, given or received: If you are going to become a great leader, you have to learn how to trust your team and also be willing to learn from them.
Best way to boost confidence: Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable and prove to yourself what you’re capable of. Once you can do it, you’ll never doubt yourself again.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in… we all deserve a seat at the table if we want one.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: The little things in life are actually the big things.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Learn to be okay with failure… those are the biggest learning opportunities.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Acceptance of quality over quantity. You can have it all if you’re realistic about defining what your “all” is.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Enjoy your events. It’s a long road and journey to create great consumer activations. Always take a moment to take it all in, experience it and be proud of your work.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Assume that every event will go perfectly. Issues will always come up… it’s how you respond to the issues that make you a great event marketer.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My teams across Amex, our agencies and partners. They are the hardest working and smartest people I know and they inspire me on a daily basis to keep reaching for greater things.
Favorite or most useful app: Amazon. It’s my personal assistant to get all my “digital errands” done.
Most listened to song on the playlist: Anything Michael Bublé.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Watching the faces of consumers and fans light up at our activations.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: overrated.” I’d much rather be respected than perfect.
Guiltiest pleasure: Reality TV. I’m a true “Bravoholic!”
Why we chose her: Long before mobile blowout bars and traveling makeover experiences were industry standard, Carvalho was bringing her beauty brands to life for the masses through innovative pop-up partnerships with major retailers like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart. Her activations for Garnier, Maybelline and Olia have women lining up for customized experiences and then bee lining into stores to buy them.
Best career advice, given or received: You need to be really savvy as a female and know we are a male-dominated business world. So, think like a man and act like a woman. Wear your highest Louboutins or Jimmy Choos and your reddest lipstick and be just as smart, know your facts, don’t back down.
Best way to boost confidence: Find role models outside of your industry, whether it is politicians or other leaders. They don’t have to be female. Find out who they are, read their books, listen to their speeches, watch them on TV. Rachel Maddow, Bill Clinton and Mica Bryzinski are some of mine.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in, big time. Lean in, lean upside down, lean forward, lean around, lean anyway you can to get in the conversation. But you need the smarts, the facts and the courage of your convictions.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Carpe diem. Live every single moment as if this day was a gift. It sounds cliché, but while you’re busy climbing to the top, enjoy your life. Stop, breathe, smell, walk, love.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: You will earn your own way if you work hard, if you’re really smart, and if you believe in what you want to do and don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of that. There are no free rides, no free lunches, there is no free anything. You need to follow your dreams.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Don’t be afraid to ask for it and ensure that it happens. You have to make choices, but it is up to the individual.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Know your goals. It all starts with the idea, then set very realistic expectations and goals, then really manage that all the way through while constructing the event.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Don’t get emotional and don’t personalize anything. If your idea isn’t accepted, go back to the drawing board, and make sure you are giving enough solid ideas to meet the goals of your event.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: It’s not a device or a hardware, it is my team. They are supportive, smart and eager and the energy bounces off one another.
Favorite or most useful app: Google, YouTube and Instagram.
Most listened to song on the playlist: The Broadway recording of “Chicago.”
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Watching my junior people succeed and get promoted.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: unrealistic.”
Guiltiest pleasure: I’m a foodie.
Why we chose her: For seeing an opportunity and seizing it. Hollander capitalized on the lack of fan experiences surrounding the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans by creating Allstate Fan Fest—an Ex Award-winning program that continues to build equity. Cool digital overlays and a live-streamed concert showed off her technology chops and gave the insurance brand a jolt of energy among younger consumers.
Best career advice, given or received: Have conviction for your ideas even if they’re not always bought by others. Being at the table and knowing how to articulate what you want and what you suggest and backing it up with fact and proof goes a long way.
Best way to boost confidence: Over prepare. Really, really know your craft and what you are doing. Walking into a meeting or a presentation knowing all the fine points helps with confidence. Also, stay one step ahead of whoever in that room you need to convince or articulate your idea to. Anticipate those questions and be prepared with those answers.
Lean in or lean out: I’m both. It depends on the situation.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Don’t take everything so seriously. And it’s okay to make mistakes.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Love what you do.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Be able to let certain things go. That might mean the beds don’t get made in the morning but if that means I get to spend an extra two minutes with the kids at the breakfast table, I’ll take that. It comes down to prioritizing and at different stages of life. It is different having babies at home than having kids that are more self-sufficient. As they get older, I am able and allow myself to do more things away from home than I have in the past.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Understand the impact that an event can have on business in terms of ROI.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Assume that it is someone else’s responsibility.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My phone.
Favorite or most useful app: A flight status tracker.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: The people around me, whether that is here at Allstate or the agency partners, the fact that I get to work with talented people.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: making mistakes and learning from those mistakes.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Going on vacation with my family and just escaping.
Why we chose her: Part data guru and part visionary, Lathan took her company’s biggest customer event and gave it a total makeover. More than that, she did it based on a deep dive into several years’ worth of show data and analytics, and then mapped it all against the reimagined show.
Best career advice, given or received: Make people feel valued and they will value you. I have a fantastic quote from the US Army Leadership Field Manual, which says, “People want direction, they want to be given challenging tasks, training in how to accomplish them and the resources necessary to do them well, then they want to be left alone to do the job.”
Best way to boost confidence: Take a deep breath and know that nothing builds confidence more than experience. You don’t need to be an expert at anything to try it. Just try it.
Lean in or lean out: I take both approaches. You have to do what is right for you and the family and the job at the right intervals. Both have their consequences. You can spend your years doing each. You don’t have to pick one all the time. It is a daily choice, not so much a lifestyle choice.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Stay curious, read fiction and non-fiction, never stop asking questions and never be afraid of asking a stupid question.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: That you can’t do anything alone, so don’t even try it. Everything is more fun with a strong team. Find your tribe.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: You can’t be 50-50 all the time. Some days you are 10-90, some days you are 70-30, some days you are 100-0. Balance your days not your life.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Take at least one vacation a year where you actually do not check your work email. We need to realize we do have strong teams and strong co-workers and can step away and the world won’t end.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Dismiss a compliment. So often we brush it off, we give credit to the team. We need to learn how to say, “Thank you. It was a lot of work.”
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My handheld cell phone charger.
Favorite or most useful app: Hootsuite.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Tonight Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Being able to provide input that impacts a program, having management that supports my involvement in the event industry and my passion for events and experiential marketing.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: a waste of time.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Pinterest and wine.
Why we chose her: For her ability to develop a strategy, sell it in to leadership teams and execute on it from beginning to end. Also, working cross-functionally to deliver results. Case in point: Reinventing the brewery experience for consumers in St. Louis and taking two mobile brew units to special events and accounts nationwide.
Best career advice, given or received: Dream big and never give up.
Best way to boost confidence: I learned from one of the TED Talks, raising your hands above your head for two minutes can change your body chemistry and boost your confidence.
Lean in or lean out: The book is insightful, but I am a be-yourself, be confident in your abilities type of person. In doing that you can achieve all the success that you want to.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Always finish what you start and do it with a smile on your face. You only have to finish once. You don’t have to do it over again. You create your pathways of what you want and what you don’t want in life.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Try to create routines at home and at work that ultimately help to drive organization and order across your life, and get comfortable with the fact that every day you have to make choices to determine what your priorities are for that specific day, and sometimes you’ll focus more on work, some days more on your family or friends.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Master the art of storytelling so you can bring strategies and ideas to life in a compelling way to audiences, which could be your boss, shareholders, a creative director. Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time, and in the age of PowerPoint presentations we may have lost a little of our storytelling.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Never base a decision 100 percent on subjectivity if there are facts available.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: A notebook and a variety of colored pens.
Favorite or most useful app: Pandora.
Most listened to song on the playlist: Anything from Zac Brown Band
Things that make you feel valued in your job: When colleagues say thank you.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: not necessary to be successful.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Pinning on Pinterest.
Why we chose her: For her leadership in overhauling CSC’s marketing organization over the past year, and her ability to utilize her analytical skills as a former chemist to look at marketing as a science. She carved out a seat at the table with CSC’s executive team, where she sets objectives and messaging for its global sales conference, and knows how to prove she has a material impact on the success of the company.
Best career advice, given or received: Get involved in different projects and even take a lateral move for additional experience. You become a richer candidate. This advice bore
fruit for me personally.
Best way to boost confidence: I’m a yoga teacher, and the yoga practice keeps me centered and balanced. When I start to feel down, I go to the mat. Also reflect on my team’s accomplishments and have a moment of gratitude around that, which helps propel me forward. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in. I’m not afraid to engage and am pretty vocal. The ability to stay present and not be distracted by what else is going on outside of the meeting, which I attribute to yoga practice, also helps minimize distractions where you may be sitting back and doing email.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: There are a lot of possibilities out there. Open every door that is afforded to you.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Do the best you can do, and the rest will take care of itself.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: You have to make sure that you are true to your values and that you serve your values well in the way you spend your time. If a you have a better perspective on who you are, it’s okay to miss a day at work.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Step into the power and be able to articulate recommendations based on experience in a business-like manner. We know what is the best practice, and that is the value we can bring—asserting our experience and where we know what works well.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Panic. Breathe and work through it. Don’t let them see you sweat.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: iPhone.
Favorite or most useful app: Concur.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Gringo Flamingo” by Montana Skies.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Getting feedback from the executives and the sales team who have gone to events and had an impact on the business, and moved an opportunity along.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: unattainable.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Dark chocolate.
Why we chose her: For the creativity, organization, people skills and problem-solving required to pull off Dreamforce, the cloud computing festival that literally takes over San Francisco for three days each year, as well as the additional 300 annual events, including global road shows and smaller regional events. She literally keeps track of it all on her iPhone, using, you guessed it, Salesforce technology.
Best career advice, given or received: Think about what you want your career to be, and don’t be afraid to try different goals. There is really no risk to it, only upside. Then craft a career path.
Best way to boost confidence: If you have a company culture and executive team that supports you, then you have the confidence to try new ideas. It’s all about testing and iterating, which makes taking a huge risk more palatable.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in. I always try to make sure everyone in the room has a seat at the table, whether you are an intern or an executive.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Go for it, whatever interests you, don’t be held back. There is no downside to doing that.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: The exact same thing.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: People have to set that for themselves, sometimes they expect their boss or management team to do it, but it’s an individual decision, along with management, to make that work.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Anybody in event marketing should be able to step back and remember the end goal and not get caught up in the smaller stuff. You have to make strategic trade-offs to get to that big nirvana moment.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Again, not just females, don’t ever let yourself get bored or stuck in a situation and use that as an excuse. If you’re not happy, it’s up to you to change it. No one can change it for you.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My iPhone and Mophie battery charger; I go into events with three fully charged Mophie chargers and as my battery runs out, I put the next one on and keep going. I never stop charging the phone.
Favorite or most useful app: Salesforce.com.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: When an event is done and you see the results.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: over-rated.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Brownies and coffee.
Why we chose her: Oversees sponsorship activations in the areas of sports, entertainment and food & wine with Delta’s 85 partners across the U.S. However, one of her boldest moves was Sky360, a pop-up experience that literally launched Delta in New York City in 2007, at a time when pop-ups were not as ubiquitous as they are today, especially for an airliner.
Best career advice, given or received: In the event world there isn’t necessarily a right and a wrong way. A lot of personal opinions come into play, so I keep Delta front of mind, that is the best gut check. It helps navigate and make decisions.
Best way to boost confidence: Pulling off a great event is the best thing. It makes you more excited about the next one.
Lean in or lean out: I’m right between lean in and lean out. I forge ahead instead of leaning.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Travel and explore the world.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Find a job you love. I’ve been with Delta 17 years and been to 63 countries! I’ve combined those—traveled the world and found a job I love.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: It is a blend of both. I found the love of my life working on a weekend at an event. So for me, working long hours worked to my advantage. But a blend of your work and your life is the best balance.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Multi-task.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Never assume anything. I always double-check everything.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: Reading materials, including Sports Business Journal, BizBash and Event Marketer.
Favorite or most useful app: My Delta and Starwood apps.
Most listened to song on the playlist: Anything U2.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: A simple “Thank you and great job, Annika” goes a long way.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: impossible but greatness is possible.”
Guiltiest pleasure: French fries with truffle oil and parmesan.
Why we chose her: Before arriving at Dolby six months ago, she led a team responsible for VMWorld, which, as she says, is literally like designing, building and managing a city. Now, she’s using her experience and expertise to help transform an ingredient brand into something we’ll all have on our radars. Can’t wait to see what Sharp’s bold move produces.
Best career advice, given or received: Don’t assume anything. If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist, because that’s where you can get into trouble.
Best way to boost confidence: Having a knowledge of how things get done, not only industry knowledge, but understanding the organization in which you are operating. Also having access to executive leadership who understands the business importance of events and having a seat at the table with them.
Lean in or lean out: I’m a split, 60 to 70 percent lean in.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Always try. Even if you think you aren’t good at something. Try and don’t be afraid to fail. I have a very resilient mindset. I might fail, but I will try again and succeed.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Find something you love to do. That is such a privilege and motivator and gives you passion.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: It’s a very personal thing. Understand what is important. For me, it is about pre-planning my week. I schedule exercise, my child’s field trip and don’t let anything touch that. That may mean I have to work at 5 a.m. three days in a row to make that happen, but it works for me. My work, my career and my personal life are all interwoven. There is give and take.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Be a leader and be a mentor.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Compromise your ethics or your professionalism.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My iPhone and my notebook and a special pen.
Favorite or most useful app: Vivino.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Recognition from the executive team and the acknowledgement of the value and quality that my team and I are delivering.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: impossible.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Truffle butter popcorn.
Why we chose her: For using social media technology to geolocate, engage and measure the impact of passionate fans and influencers over the course of the Sunday Night Football Bus tour. A master of integrated marketing, Singh also handles digital, social, partnerships and event marketing across NBC and with various partners.
Best career advice, given or received: Understand what the people you work with do, because people can get very siloed in what they are doing and not look at the larger picture from a company standpoint. The more you understand, the more you understand how everything works together and how best to get things done.
Best way to boost confidence: Sleep is very important. If you are rested, you have perspective on things and don’t get flustered as easily. Take a minute, step back, think about the last five successes and re-set.
Lean in or lean out: Lean in, but it is very important to know when to lean out and take a back seat on things. Sometimes you don’t need to be as involved, don’t stretch yourself too thin and know your limits.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy it, and enjoy the journey.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Don’t be too eager to get there. A lot of people rush through school and don’t enjoy the college experience.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: Don’t strive for balance, strive for blend, and find the blend that works for you. That is attainable. Balance isn’t. Figuring out how it can all work together is a more attainable goal.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Every event marketer in general should learn to just roll with it. As long as you have a plan, if something doesn’t go right, no one needs to know that but you. So just roll with it.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Lose your cool. Be able to take a step back and figure it out. Nothing is perfect when doing an event, so keep your cool.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: Evernote.
Favorite or most useful app: Solitaire. It helps me fall asleep.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Collaboration. A lot of what I do involves working across different groups and seeing that all come together and what we are able to accomplish is always very rewarding.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: pointless.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Food. I love to eat! I work out so I can eat, and I love to get lost in a good novel.
Why we chose her: For giving her company’s brands a voice among the fast-growing Hispanic market through highly targeted efforts that match the attitudinal differences of the demographic with the right brand experience. The Dr Pepper “One of a Kind” campaign featuring private concert events with Romeo Santos is a case study in making meaningful connections.
Best career advice, given or received: Be a good learner. It keeps you grounded and humble. As you grow and get higher within an organization, it will help you be relatable and be a good coach and leader.
Best way to boost confidence: Surround yourself with girlfriends. And female friends from work. Female coworkers that are your girlfriends can boost your confidence when you need it and can give you good feedback and are there to support you.
Lean in or lean out: I am kind of in the middle. I think you can have it all throughout your life and your career but just not all at the same time. You have to be patient and balanced and have a huge support group and know who you can count on.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: You need to live life every day. Stay positive; you never know what is going to come up.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: The same applies. You can go through really tough times professionally, you can lose a job that you love and what are you going to do tomorrow? It may be happening for a reason. It may be a growth opportunity or maybe you are having this challenge so you can learn from it.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: You need a village—a boss that knows you are doing your job, that you can be flexible, and get some of the job done in the office and at home after your kids go to bed; a super supportive husband, a nanny, grandparents, aunts and uncles, somebody that is helping you.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Not brag. It’s always a team effort. You can be leading the event or the face of the event, but ultimately there are a lot of people involved that help you have a successful event.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Brag. It’s a team effort. Stay on your game but be humble about it.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: My mini wallet. It has everything: lip gloss, credit cards, USB stick, phone.
Most listened to artist on the playlist: Romeo Santos and Usher.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: You can’t expect recognition. You have to know in your gut you are doing your best every day.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: a work in progress.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Milk chocolate of any kind.
Why we chose her: For being one of the driving forces behind Ford’s revolutionary Fiesta Movement, which took the concept of getting people behind the wheel into the virtual realm via social and digital channels, and changed the way marketers think about live+digital events.
Best career advice, given or received: How important it is for you personally to manage your career, and not let your career be managed by others. You need to stay true to what you have a passion for.
Best way to boost confidence: Be the subject matter expert. Events isn’t something that everyone knows well, so to continue to build your confidence you have to be the trusted source in your organization. Brush up on everything that is bleeding edge in the industry.
Lean in or lean out: It depends on the chapter. Sandberg talks about people opting out early on in the process, which was a flip for me. I had children later in my career, so I was completely all in in the early to mid-years of my career. That allowed me to establish a reputation for when I was ready to have children. Then it was okay for me to be away for a while.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Cancel all of the expectations on finding your prince and having it all by the age of 25. By age 25, I was so not ready for those things and I was having the time of my life traveling all over the place with my girlfriends.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: Always give 150 percent but make sure that work is not your top priority.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: You have to manage expectations at home and make sure you and your partner are aligned on roles and responsibilities because unfortunately your mate is going to have to step up a lot more than the average. There are ups and downs, and seasons, to the event space. In the summer, forget about it.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: All things social. Being in the event space is like being a politician. You’re always out shaking hands and kissing babies as you build the reputation of the brand or the company person-by-person, then you’re spreading that message via social media.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Compromise. There will be a lot of times when other folks think they know what’s better, or you’re working with an agency that is pushing you in a direction that you’re not comfortable with because you live and understand the essence of your brand. There are things you will stretch your brand on but you can’t compromise yourself or your brand.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: iPhone.
Favorite or most useful app: GroupMe.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “A Song For You” by Donny Hathaway.
Things that make you feel valued in your job: Getting direct feedback from consumers that one of my teams’ changed their mind about the brand.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: a blessing and a curse.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Teen pop music
Why we chose her: For reinventing the evergreen ride and drive experience and hospitality event into passion-based platforms where bespoke customer experiences come to life and customers for life are made. Events are not an after-thought, but an essential part of Zimmer’s marketing strategy, and one that is growing in importance each year.
Best career advice, given or received: You have to one, work hard; two, be ethical; and three, when life throws you stumbling blocks, make them into stepping stones. There are going to be challenges and bad days but you have to turn those around into learning experiences.
Best way to boost confidence: Have a personal belief in yourself and don’t take things personally, which can be hard for a woman. It’s never personal.
Lean in or lean out: I am a total lean-inner! I’m the woman in the meeting who has the laptop, my notebook, my phones, and I take up two spaces so they know I’m there. You can’t be afraid to speak up in meetings.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about life: Take it day by day because it will get better.
What you would tell your eight-year-old self about work: As a working mother with three active kids, I would say it is okay to leave the office at 4:30 to go to the Little League game. It’s okay to have a work-life balance. You will still get to where you are by doing so and having a strong worth ethic.
Tips on striking a work-life balance: You can’t let others dictate your feelings about work-life balance because it’s not about them and what they think, it is about you and what you think, and your family always comes first. For me it is setting an expectation with my staff and with management.
One thing every female event marketer should learn to do: Learn the other sides of the business in order to do better events; know a little about social media and traditional marketing so when you are sitting in strategy meetings you can provide a strong focus.
One thing every female event marketer should never do: Never be self-deprecating in front of your management.
Can’t-live-without professional tool: Phone.
Favorite or most useful app: Hotel Tonight, it gives the best, cheapest rates for any hotel for that night. Helpful if you are stranded at an airport after an event or need to stay an extra night.
Most listened to song on the playlist: “Play It Again” by Luke Bryan
Things that make you feel valued in your job: The satisfaction of an event finale, the text from executive management with “Nice job,” thank you notes from customers and the camaraderie of my team.
Finish this sentence: “Perfectionism is: over-rated.”
Guiltiest pleasure: Bravo TV.
This summer, Event Marketer interviewed 17 women across the industry to find out what they think about the changing roles of women in events, the (nearly impossible) quest for work-life balance and their perspectives on the glass ceiling. On July 30th, we gathered six of them for a live roundtable discussion in New York City, co-produced with longtime Women in Events partner Sparks (sparksonline.com). What follows are the insights and comments gathered from all the conversations. –Jessica Heasley
EVENT MARKETER: How has event marketing evolved as an industry since you began your career?
PATTIE FALCH: When I first started 18 years ago, an event was hanging a banner. Now, when we do an event or a sponsorship, we lead everything from our team. We lead the p.r., we lead the social, we lead the digital, we lead the advertising—the full 360 of it. It’s really nice to see that evolution.
CRYSTAL WORTHEM: In 2006 we were just pulling it all together. Events were literally me with a guy from the dealership that I gave 50 bucks to come down and help me at a concert or event. There were no aligned metrics. It was just kind of whatever the brand wanted to do. Now, we are the engine for content for the organization, be it television, digital, whatever, and we use events as a base.
LIZ LATHAN: I like to say that events were the original social media—they are the reason that business gets done. It’s about having conversations and getting new leads and closing deals. And I don’t think that it’s ever going away. It’s very exciting to see the technology and social media coming into the picture, and the full-funnel marketing conversation happening with events, so that we’re not just the meeting planner or the party planner that we were 15 to 20 years ago. Events are truly an actual campaign vehicle that’s respected.
CATHY MARTIN: I think that’s been an evolution for my team, too. I only inherited some of the folks in the last year or so but they were logistics event marketing folks. I’m challenging them to think more broadly about the marketing that we need to do—not just the event logistics, and to tie it back to the business objectives. It’s a different skill set.
OLIVIA VELA: Before, it was seen as a nice-to-have, but not part of the overall marketing mix. Now I think it is more sophisticated, where you are trying to tie in new trends, like what is going on in digital and social, or what you do from a multicultural perspective. Anything you do in event marketing is now part of how you go to market, it is one of many other disciplines within the marketing mix and it is part of the 360 that we talk about. It is more strategic, it is more integrated and you have to know a lot more.
EVENT MARKETER: How has the role of women evolved, and what are the opportunities today?
WORTHEM: When we’re talking about the shift in experiential, I would say a lot of that is the mind of a woman. We’re collaborators. So when you talk about marketing and p.r. and brand and the digital team all working together seamlessly, that didn’t happen naturally out of some of the other leadership. Those things happened as a result of what comes naturally for women—to collaborate, to get best practices from every area and to all come to the table together and develop a solution. I think that’s how you end up with this mashup of marketing. Or at least I think that’s how it’s played out at our company, which is very male-dominated.
JULIA MIZE: Women have always had key roles in event marketing. But I think event marketing is truly coed. It is about creating memorable experiences. There is tremendous opportunity for people who are able to be strategic and creative thinkers, especially with the explosion of digital technology onto the forefront of event marketing.
ANNIKA SCHMITZ: Overall, the event world and event marketing is a great space for women to work in, and there are lot of women in these roles, on the brand side and agency side. People are intrigued by events. It is fast-paced and ever changing. There is always something new and a lot of learning opportunities. You are constantly innovating.
VELA: We as women have become more strategic and we’ve amplified what the marketing mix is, and how you really translate that brand voice into an event.
CHRISTY AMADOR: I have seen the role of women in marketing continue to grow. Women have a tendency to be collaborative, so it is the perfect time for women to be at the forefront of marketing and event marketing.
I always say, “You know what? Think like a woman but you’d better act like a man.” The reality is you put on your highest heels, your reddest lipstick, know your facts, be direct and then stop talking. Don’t whine, don’t bitch, don’t cry and just stop talking.
–Lisa Carvalho, L’Oréal
EVENT MARKETER: Do women naturally possess certain skills or personality traits that are an asset in event marketing?
AMADOR: Being a woman is an advantage when it comes to collaboration and multi-tasking. Women naturally are about getting things done successfully and I like to think that women are more in touch with their artistic and creative side. These attributes in many industries are the kinds of things that make good leaders and good project leaders. We’re detail-oriented and collaborative and we have a goal in mind and we don’t let our ego get in the way. I don’t think of it as how far we have to go, but how far we’ve come and how well-equipped we are for success.
LAURIE SHARP: I think experiential marketing has been about creating that emotional attachment to a brand and that is every single aspect of that experience. And I think women are just going to be naturally better at creating that emotional experience and thinking about that level of detail.
PRAVEETA SINGH: It’s the detail-oriented nature in general of women. I think women are good at that organization and at having multiple things going on. I think we tend to listen. And I think that helps us be successful because we’re looking at it from that standpoint of, okay, the more I know about what’s going on, the more I can get what I need to do get done.
MICHELE CARR: Event marketing is about establishing relationships and building and growing those relationships, and if you don’t have that personality, men or women, I don’t know if you will succeed in this business. This whole business is built around relationships with agencies, property partners or brands, and how you all come together to deliver amazing work for the consumer. That is the key to being a great event marketer. Being male or female doesn’t matter. These are the personalities that will succeed in the business.
PAM HOLLANDER: I believe that women may have a certain level of patience that probably serves them well but I don’t know if that is a blanket statement. I work with so many amazing, talented men. I don’t know if I can really draw the line. Maybe it is having both, the yin and the yang. They play off of each other and it works.
MIZE: The devil is in the details. Paying attention to the details is what makes an event amazing. Every woman that I have worked with in my career has possessed this trait, and I think that is a key driver in developing and executing these events.
ZIMMER: Women are more detail-oriented, more organized and I think they can roll with the punches. Events are not black and white, there are some very gray areas, and any little thing can go wrong. I think women can hold their emotions in check when needed, even though we tend to be emotional. I think the ability to multi-task is inherent in our gender, but you have to be a good multi-tasker in order to do this job.
SCHMITZ: Are there opportunities for men and women in event marketing? Yes, but women have a little more tenacity and are that much more eager to get things done.
ELIZABETH PINKHAM: I think it has a lot to do with attitude. Whether it’s from male or female, I look at somebody when they come into a room and ask, “What is their energy? What is their attitude? Are they the first to raise their hand and say, ‘I’ll help figure that out?’ Are they the ones who help with creative brainstorms and solutions and how to get to the end goal in new way? Are they helping other people want to work with them?” It’s that DNA, that attitude and energy level that’s so critical, at least in our culture, that leads to being successful in event marketing.
EVENT MARKETER: How can women in the industry take those inherent skills and use them to create a career and leadership opportunities?
HAWLEY: I think it’s about confidence and also taking a risk, taking a chance. Going outside of your comfort zone and showing people, other than who you work with, how you think and how you act and how you can take charge and lead something. It inspires people to say, “Listen, I saw Pattie do this and I think maybe we could get her involved in XYZ,” and then all of a sudden you’re starting to get involved in new and different types of endeavors. I also think your teams or your peers start to notice things differently, too. So I think a lot of it is just stepping out of your comfort zone.
LATHAN: I think we struggle with that. If you’ve read “Lean In,” there’s a part where Sheryl Sandberg talks about how women get promoted based on what they’ve done, but men get promoted based on what they can do. And I think that we really need to take more risks and say, “No, I’ve never done that but I totally could. Let them give me a chance.” I don’t think we do that enough.
MARTIN: And I don’t think the work can just stand on its own either. You have to promote it. You have to connect it back to the business objectives and be very specific about what you’ve achieved based on those objectives. I think we say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” and then people walk in the room and everything is glorious but we make it look so easy, so they have no idea.
SINGH: I would definitely agree with that. I think it’s also about being specific and concise. And that’s something that I struggle with because a lot of times I have so much going on and I’m thinking about it in all these different ways. But I have worked in a male-dominated industry for the past 10-plus years, and you have to learn how to communicate precisely and concisely and say, “Okay, this is what we need to do,” even though you have 900 things in your head.
LISA CARVALHO: I always say, “You know what? Think like a woman but you’d better act like a man.” The reality is you put on your highest heels, your reddest lipstick, know your facts, be direct and then stop talking. Don’t whine, don’t bitch, don’t cry, and just stop talking.
I’ve met Sheryl Sandberg and God bless her—for $80 million I can “Lean In,” too. Backwards, forwards and upside down. I think we need to encourage women to lean any way they can. I don’t care how you lean, just lean. Just stop reading the book, because she’s got an $80 million comfort blanket and I have $1.82.
LATHAN: Exactly. I have to pick up one kid from summer camp, and then I’ve got to pick the little kid up from daycare, then I’ve got to put the kids to bed, and then I’ve got to get back online for the next two hours because I didn’t finish anything, because I was in meetings all day so I couldn’t get an email done.
EVENT MARKETER: Cathy, you mentioned how important it is to promote your work, but that’s a skill women tend to struggle with. Who has some advice on how to overcome that hurdle?
AMADOR: Women do have a tendency to hang back and get it done and do great events but not promote themselves during the process. I stand behind my work, that is a lot for me and I am happy and excited about that. If your brand does well, then you do well. But I do think there is a place to lean in and let people know what your target was and try to work that to the advancement of your career. That is something I am getting better at as I continue. It’s not being selfish, it is being smart about your career.
CARVALHO: There’s this unique ability to not self-promote as women. We just don’t do it. And I am a firm believer that you’d better do it. And your team, too, and ladder it up any way you can. Because all you need is one home run to get the permission to play the whole season and get every other home run after that. I’ve said that a million times. And it never fails.
And do you know what’s funny? The minute you take an executive and he meets Toby Keith, gets an autograph and rides in a car—there’s your metrics and your self promotion. Then all of a sudden—I call it the BSO, the bright shiny object—they’re like, “Oh, my God, that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever been to.” Which is why everyone on my senior management team has to attend our events.
WORTHEM: They have to attend it and the other secret is to make videos for everything. If I can tell the story in a minute and a half video of consumers singing and dancing, the ceo shows it to all of his operating committee and everybody thinks it’s the most glorious thing ever. It’s the easiest way to communicate.
FALCH: And at the end of everything, I send a full recap to all of our management team. They get a full recap with a video, the whole thing—and then we send it to our global team as well.
CARVALHO: That’s the home run, and that’s what gives you the permission next time to ask for the astronomical amount of money or the event that you want to do, or the “I have an idea—I know you’re going to think this is crazy but…”
VELA: Sometimes I still struggle with it. Some of it is gender, and some of it is cultural. I think Hispanic women have an even harder time with self-promotion because culturally it is not about bragging about ourselves or promoting ourselves. Compared to my peers that are women but not Hispanic, they do a better job of promoting themselves and hyping themselves in a great way to management than probably I do. I think it is something that women as a whole could learn a lot more from, and if you have mentors they can help you do it in a better way.
FALCH: I think you have to stand by your decisions. A lot of times in my company someone will make a decision and they’ll get some influence from somebody else and all of a sudden they’re wavering, and then three days go by and your deadlines are missed. I think you have to believe in your decisions and be strong and support them. That helps build confidence. And I think the combination of all of it leads to great work, and then your work really stands out.
We’re collaborators. So when you talk about marketing and p.r. and brand and the digital team all working together seamlessly… those things happened as a result of what comes naturally for women—to collaborate, to get best practices from every area and to all come to the table together and develop a solution.
–Crystal Worthem, Ford Motor Co.
EVENT MARKETER: Some of the women in our anonymous survey said the key to success is learning to say no. Do you find that to be true?
LAURIE SHARP: If you come from a certain background, it’s ingrained to say, “Yes, I can do anything, I’ll make it happen, don’t you worry. Yes, yes, yes, yes.” But now, you can’t just answer yes. You can’t just be good at ordering tchotchkes and pens. That’s not good. That’s not a valuable asset for your team. It’s great that we want to do great and we want to say yes, but shifting that mindset can be a huge challenge.
MARTIN: That is the challenge. I tell my people all the time that they have to push back on some of these executives because we have the domain knowledge to recommend to them what is going to be the most effective thing, and we can’t just say yes all the time. At least in my short tenure with this team, that’s a big evolution that we’re seeing.
SHARP: You’re not an order taker. Or you’re going to be viewed that way.
CARVALHO: I say do first and then ask permission. Those rules are still true. But when I was growing up as a woman in business in the ‘90s, we had female leaders that were loud, they were aggressive, they were arrogant—and I loved every one of them. They were so gung-ho. All the Helen Gurley Browns of the world, they’re gone. So now it’s incumbent upon each of us without this kind of matriarchal voice to say, “You know what? No.”
EVENT MARKETER: There’s no masters program for event marketing, so what skills or experiences do you recommend women coming up in the industry “master” if they hope to be successful?
PINKHAM: I’d think very consciously about whether you want to be a deep-dive expert in one discipline, or if you want to go broad. When you find something you really like, develop that as the focus of your career. That’s what I did.
There are new positions in event marketing that are happening all the time. We have people in our team who are very focused on the discipline of keynote production. And they know that world so well, they know it better than most event agencies I could hire. And they are complete experts in that domain. That’s not an area that I had dedicated staff working on as of four or five years ago. It’s a relatively new career direction here at the company. Another example is, on the social side, last year we got someone on our team who is dedicated to all social marketing around our events and it’s been an incredible lever for us to grow our program and to help people understand what it’s like to interact with our brand and our products at our events. It’s been exciting to see that grow into a real position.
LATHAN: Just listen and ask questions about every other discipline that exists. I think that’s why I’m drawn to events, because it is the place that everything comes together. So I have the opportunity to see all the different pieces from audience acquisition to mar-com, to media, to social media, to project management. It’s all right there, so just continue to ask about that. You don’t have to go do one of those jobs for a year in order to understand it, you just have to ask the right questions and pay attention.
WORTHEM: I would say what’s been critical for me and people that I’ve worked with, especially women that I work with, it’s really about owning your brand and knowing how to communicate that and your vision for your career. So, you’ve got to let people know what you want.
HAWLEY: We said it earlier—listen. When you’re in meetings, when you’re just having conversations with your associates and peers—listen and be a sponge. And because of that you’ll be able to learn and then apply yourself in different areas. And I think that so many kids that are coming into different industries, they’ve got their goal set on one thing and they all want to do the cool sexy thing. They don’t realize that there’s a lot more that needs to go behind putting that cool sexy thing together, and they might like doing that better. But they don’t know about it. They see the bright shiny object and they’re like, “This is what I’m going to go after”
AMADOR: You don’t get what you deserve. You deserve what you get. There is something to that. It’s important to understand your strengths as well as your weaknesses and play to those strengths, and use them to your advantage. Women tend to hang back more than men do. It is a good idea to ask for what you want, but you have to wrap it in a more feminine, not as aggressive, kind of a package. Whether that is fair or not, there is probably some truth to that. At least, that is what some people may be expecting. If someone sees you as aggressive, it can be a danger. But it has to mirror your personality. You can’t be someone you are not. I’m not a hard charger in that way. It’s important to find a balance that suits your personality.
HOLLANDER: What I found here is in order to continue to grow and evolve, it wasn’t just doing more of what I was currently doing, it was looking to find ways to take on more outside of what I was working on.
VELA: I didn’t realize how important mentors and career cheerleaders were. People talk about it and it sounds cliché, but that and networking. If I had to do it over, I would spend more time fostering those relationships in terms of networking and finding the right mentors and career cheerleaders. That really propels you to do bigger and better things and also helps you gain some confidence in what you are doing. It opens doors. Ultimately, I can tell you every job I have had up until this day has been because of networking. Someone knows me, someone recommends me and here I am in another job. That speaks to the power of it. I didn’t know it when I was younger.
LATHAN: But I also would be careful because there are some women who don’t want to climb the ladder. They’re perfectly happy where they are and they love the piece that they’re doing. And I wouldn’t want them to feel like they have to be forced out into another role. And I feel like we get that a lot—if you’re not moving up then you’re not successful and maybe you’re not good enough. And I don’t think that’s right for everybody.
I don’t think the work can just stand on its own either. You have to promote it. You have to connect it back to the business objectives and be very specific about what you’ve achieved based on those objectives. I think we say, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” and then people walk in the room and everything is glorious but we make it look so easy, so they have no idea.
–Cathy Martin, CSC
EVENT MARKETER: That leads us to the question of work-life balance. Is it even possible in a career where travel and crazy hours are all part of the gig?
FALCH: For many, many years, I turned down moving up because I had two kids. I didn’t want to be responsible for other people at work because I didn’t feel I could do a fair job to them. And for seven years I said no to the job that I currently have because I wanted to never have to work on a Friday, which I never have since I had my first son. I set those boundaries, and then as my kids got older and the company restructured and the department restructured, I was like, “You know what? Now is the time.” And so I think you can find a balance. But I will say during that time, I was always learning, I was always working really hard. And I think in the end, for me personally, it really gave me the ability to work and be a mom.
SINGH: I really struggle with working and being a mom. And I live in an area where most of the moms don’t work, so that also adds to it. But I love to work. So I had to find a way to do what I love to do but still not miss out on the things that were so important to me.
SHARP: I will go to the school play and I will go be a mom on the field trip. That may mean I had to get up at four but I will do that. Or I’ll work on a weekend that I hadn’t planned to work, just to get it done but still make sure I can do the things that I think are important for my child. And that’s kind of the normal way that it works in the Bay Area. I don’t know if it works that way anywhere else. It is expected you’re working 24/7 but you might be at the school play. You just integrate it all together.
CARVALHO: I was part of the Gloria Steinem years and the glass ceiling and all of those conversations and I will tell you right now, we didn’t win that war—not by a long shot. And the next generation that came through said, “You know what? You guys didn’t do such a good job. Forget it. I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom.” The paradigm shifts I find are fascinating. I think, why did I march on Washington? What was I doing? And I realize it was still for equal pay, it was still to have a voice and a share in the room, and it was still to give you those choices. Because before that, you didn’t even have the choice to say that.
PINKHAM: I sit with people on my team who say, “I want to try all of the different disciplines within event marketing, and then I want to go do p.r. and then I want to go do demand-gen because I want to be a cmo in 10 years.” So we will craft a career plan for them. Then there are people who will say, “I want to learn everything I can about this one discipline of event marketing, because my goal is, when I start having kids in five years, I want to be a consultant and have a flexible work schedule.” So we craft a career path for her so in a few years, when she’s ready to go start a family, she has a skill set and portfolio and she can go and be a highly compensated consultant in this particular area. And that’s her career path.
So everybody has a different perspective on it and that’s what makes it fun is having those conversations around how will we get you there, what will it take.
LATHAN: And that’s it. We just need to stop judging each other for our choices. I balance my day Monday, and I rebalance it Tuesday. And my annual conference is on the day of my son’s violin concert, so my parents will record it for me because I can’t get to that one. But I got to go to his rehearsal. It’s not life balance, it’s just moment by moment. Sometimes you’re that mom that gave the kid the Lunchables four days this week. But it’s fine.
I mean, it’s still gut-wrenching to know that you’re going to give your baby more formula than you really want because you have to take a trip way earlier than you planned on, but you’ve got to get over the mommy guilt. The kids will be fine. They’re going to grow up to learn that you’ve got a work ethic and that they need a work ethic, too.
WORTHEM: But the critical piece to me is what Lisa was saying as far as setting up this next generation of female leadership to change the paradigm in business. Because I have so many amazing mentors and you go in a meeting, they’ve got their red lipstick on, they’re freaking slaying them. And so, it’s important for all of us that have gleaned that from them to now pass that down and change the rules for the next generation of women not to have to have all this crazy mommy guilt. Or whatever it is—whatever you’re passionate for, or whatever your family is.
In our company we have transitional work assignments so you can work, say, an 80 percent schedule. But there was a stigma associated with that. So, we were very fortunate—because the woman that I came in under, Connie Fontaine, did that for like 15 years, and then she got off it and just was amazing. So, the next time we were looking for team members we took in, I think, 75 percent of our team of women that were on these transitional assignments.
LATHAN: It is important for more and more corporations to be like that. Dell is the same. Just hugely flexible work. You’re able to work remotely. If I need to do all my calls on a Monday morning because I didn’t get the laundry done over the weekend, I can. So, I think having the shift in corporate culture is so helpful.
WORTHEM: And we’re the shift, right? We’re the ones that are going to go in. We have a seat at the table and we have to make that transformation for the rest of the women.
EVENT MARKETER: It certainly sounds like there’s a lot of progress, but women in the workforce still make less than men in comparable jobs. Can you talk about the glass ceiling and salary disparities between men and women in events?
PINKHAM: I think it has to do with the perception of the value of event marketing. In technology, and in some companies more than others, events are seen as very strategic and very important in the marketing mix and extremely essential and critical. At Salesforce, it’s one of our sharpest marketing tools and it’s so imbedded in the company culture and our entire brand and our message to the outside world, that our team, which is predominantly female, is seen as extremely strategic.
That may in a way speak to a leadership opportunity or redefining the strategic value of events in other companies. We as female leaders in this discipline can help other women who are running those programs in a different industry understand what those events can do for their brand and their company.
CARVALHO: If you’re interviewing at a company that doesn’t embrace event marketing, then don’t go there. If you love what you do in event marketing, then find somewhere that does embrace it because as much as you think you’re going to be able to bring great ideas and energy, it’s not going to work, and then you’re wasting your time and a lot of years pushing it uphill. You can love what you do but not love where you do it.
ZIMMER: I feel the sky is the limit because if you are good at what you do, there will be opportunity for you and at Mercedes-Benz, I have not experienced the glass ceiling. I have worked my way up from a coordinator to a specialist to a supervisor and am now managing the entire department. I think if you’re good at what you do, it will be recognized. I think people have an appreciation for what goes into an event.
AMADOR: I don’t look at the world in terms of that. There are glass ceilings in some industries, but that said, I’ve never looked at an opportunity I didn’t get because I was a woman. I’ve looked at it as an opportunity to understand why that happened and looked at myself and what I could do differently moving forward. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and been able to do wonderful work at Coca-Cola. I have a mentor at Coke, Wendy Clark, president of sparkling for North America, and she is a woman with an important job in high senior management, along with several other women. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t do something I wanted to do by virtue of being a woman.
HOLLANDER: I’ve never really thought of event marketing as something that needed to be segmented among women. I never viewed it that way and I’m not sure I want to. I work with men and women, it doesn’t matter. The world of sports marketing may see more men, but that doesn’t mean it is geared toward that.
You have to earn your chops depending on the setting and who is around the table. I think men inherently know how to talk the talk more easily but I’ve never really felt intimidated by that, and I feel that if I have my craft, and my craft is marketing, I know I can apply it to anything like sports marketing, and I feel confident.
MIZE: I wouldn’t call it a glass ceiling. I think that everyday I wake up and have to focus on getting the job done. Some days I do a better job of it than others. The persistence in staying on plan and staying on strategy allows me to deliver results as well as my team. We all have better days than others.
SCHMITZ: I’ve worked with Delta almost my entire career, so I am very fortunate. Delta embraces diversity across the board and across its various divisions. I believe in mentoring and mentorships and taking other women under our wings and helping them pave the way as well.
WORTHEM: This is where I learned my hard lesson. When you first start at a company, you set the tone, you establish what you’re going to make from the beginning. And where we as women lose? Men negotiate and we don’t. So, my roommate was a guy that I went to school with. We both started at the same time and he negotiated like $10,000 more than me! And I didn’t find out until after the fact. And then you’re done. So, that’s one of the things I’d share with anybody.
One more salary trick I learned from a male coworker was, every six months he would go out, interview, and come back in with an offer and say, “Well, so-and-so offered me this, so I should be making XYZ.” And, of course, I thought, “Oh, my God, that’s so crass.” But he’s still there and he’s thriving.
MARTIN: And he’s not just letting his work speak for itself.
CARVALHO: I don’t give a rat’s ass, frankly, what my title is—you’d better make sure I’m paid equally among everybody else in this building. If you think your salary is not commensurate with someone, you should go to HR and say to them, “I need to know what such-and-such is making within the discipline that I’m in, and am I in that salary band? And if I’m not, how do I get there?” And make sure they tell you.
PINKHAM: We’re fortunate here, to have a culture that’s extremely encouraging and supportive of women and their careers. Women here feel very empowered and are given every possible tool to feel that way.
VELA: From my experience, I feel like we continue to make inroads because there are more and more women in corporate America in leadership positions that understand what women need, and they support that. The time that I have been here in marketing, I have seen two women rise through the organization and be vps of marketing, which is very exciting. I do feel like throughout many companies it is becoming more about the skill set and what women bring to the table instead of the gender roles, but we have some room. There is still room to grow.
Our Women in Event Marketing movement isn’t entirely focused on brand-side ladies. On the other side of the fence—across the industry’s best agencies and partners—are some of the savviest, most strategic and most successful women.
And you’re about to meet a few of them.