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.