Erica Maurer, partner at EMRG Media, joins the podcast this week to talk about building connection in a virtual world. As a leader of this full-service marketing company, Erica knows the ins and outs of events, and how to create a space that builds trust, empathy, and collaboration. We dive into the virtual world and brainstorm ways to host events that serve your company culture.
This week on Meeting Minds we welcome the Head of Global Event Operations at Indeed, Gina Devito! We talk about how their events team navigated the pandemic, what’s changed, and reflect on what we’ve learned in the past year.
Tell us about your career and background.
I figured out when I was young what I did NOT want to do. I found myself looking through the ‘Wanted’ Ads, and I saw an Event Management class. I was actually offered a job from the instructor. I then did a ton of volunteer work, and networked a lot, and that led to a career in corporate events. Then, when the recession hit, I found myself without a job and did some freelancing. In 2018, Indeed cam knocking and hired me to improve their technical event production team, and since then the head of global event operations.
How has your role changed throughout COVID?
Yes, my role was actually born during the pandemic. At the height of the pandemic we had a moment of pause, and in our industry those moments are not easy to come by. But we took it as a spring cleaning moment. We evaluated if we were set-up to support our work and these events, and we weren’t. We restructured our team for better success.
For any organization that is struggling with COVID fallout, what’s your advice for that?
It was really a journey, our team road’s to recover is very much aligned with the event industry council’s framework and their business continuity guide: Assess, Adapt, and Accelerate. We cancelled our flagship event in May, and we asked ourselves what tools and technology do we need to be successful. What does business look like in the new normal? We adapted, and the hard reality is that we had never really planned a virtual event, and that’s all we were doing. We evolved our event programming, we onboarded an event management software, and we provided more transparency across the team. We developed forecasting strategies. Then, accelerate, and once we had our plans in place, we pushed forward.
What changed and what perspectives came out of that for you?
For me, I research a lot more. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry. I try to make sure my team in prepared. From a macro perspective, nearly half my time is spent sifting through data. It’s usually important for events and marketing, but it’s crucial in thinking about how we use resources.
What’s been the biggest learning piece from an Ops/tech perspective?
I feel like we had to all re-learn to do our job. Three things come to mind. The importance of data. The second, the importance of scalability. It’s important to focus our attention to the projects that make the most impact. And lastly, going back to basics. Event management 101. It’s really at the core of every decision we make. We think about ‘why are we doing this?’ and ‘what’s the objective?’
You need to start with ‘what do I need to accomplish’ and then asking do I need all the bells and whistles?
Any other discoveries as you plan for the future?
A big thing is accessibility compliance. We remediated all of our digital. A lot of platforms are behind the eight ball on this. We had to build our own platform to accommodate this.
What does that mean, what should we be looking for?
Captioning for sure, and making sure events are navigable. Titles behind buttons and so many things. We are also preparing for the emergence of hybrid and looking how that format will fit into our logistics. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Hybrid is its own thing, and it needs to fit with your events and message.
What is a last piece of advice for our listeners?
Our industry was pretty hard-hit by the pandemic. For those of us that still have a job, it looks so different. My advice would be to find the silver lining, we are a truly resilient and creative group of people. Lead with a change mindset and embrace the change.
Do you love a good cocktail? This week we welcome the former VP of Event Marketing at Patron to the show, Pam Dzierzanowski. We talk about creating memorable experiences, prosecco in a can, and adapting brand activations to the virtual space. Make sure you check out this weeks episode of Meeting Minds!
Kick off the new year with some wisdom! This week, event speaker Courtney Stanley joins the podcast to talk about growth in a difficult year, building confidence, and 2020 as the year of hindsight. Make sure you check it out!
What is your background?
I have been in the industry for a decade now. I stepped in with intention. I interned at the Country Music Association and helped with the CMA awards but long story short I worked as a corporate event planner, worked for an event tech, and most recently worked for political org based in Michigan that works to pass laws that protect environment and public health. But, in 2020 I took the leap to be a full-time public speaker.
What are helpful transition strategies you’ve used in this year?
I started out this year and I felt pretty good, there was good cash flow. I was obviously stressed, and having fear of the unknown. And in March literally 80% of my contracts cancelled. I was annoyed with myself that I had chosen this time to start my venture, and it took a lot of work to reconfigure what my year would look like. I needed to go back to the ‘why’ of when I went off on my own. I needed to get back to the heart of my launchpad and what I was basing my business on – which was creating meaningful content and starting meaningful conversations. And to help people seize silver linings. The strategy that really worked for me was to just connect with people. Over the off months I just built my brand and come August my schedule blew up. It can work to pivot and I can’t imagine what 2021 is going to be like.
What advice to you have for those that didn’t have a strong financial and professional year?
First, it is not unusual to find yourself in a place of unemployment and there is a stigma around losing your job. It is difficult and makes you question your value and makes you question your career but my advice is this all happens for a reason and although its cheesy its true. There is a lesson to be learned. So, my best advice is to focus on yourself and learn a lesson and focus on your skills and think about tings you wanna grow into. This is an opportunity This year wasn’t fun but there were so many lessons along the way. 2020 is the year of hindsight.
What are ways people can affirm their worth in limited circumstances?
There are things you can do to root yourself in your sense of worth. I do career and confidence coaching and some of the exercises help you identity your core drives, what are you most afraid of and what do you most seek. The first step in building your confidence is knowing who you are. Confidence is presenting who you are to the world. I also use the “High-five” assessment, telling you your strengths and showing you how these five things make you unique and puts words to your strengths. After doing these the real work starts and making sure you hit pause when you hear your inner-critic and feel you have imposter-syndrom. Also, making sure your circle and the people you surround yourself with are positive influences.
Final words of motivation for listeners?
I would tell listeners to consider this a restart. Our industry is going to make a massive comeback in Q2 or Q3 of this year. So, start making new goals and make this a new opportunity to grow and level-up in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise. Turn a setback into a comeback.
We are bringing in the new year with Tim Glomb, VP of Content and Data at Cheetah Digital! Tim shares how to get outside your comfort zone, fuel creativity, and create a head-turning event. Make sure you check it out!