Professionals usually think of a brand as referring to a company, but another consideration is one’s individual brand. At the second annual IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) in Washington D.C., the gathering of 115 female industry leaders was challenged to reflect on “What is your Personal Brand?”
The sold-out event brought attendees from 19 U.S. locations as well as Canada and Thailand. Representing a broad range of industry experience, almost 40 percent of attendees had 21 to 25 years of experience, and another 40 percent had 11 to 20 years in the industry.
The event recognized 25-year industry veteran Global Experience Specialists Senior Vice President of National Sales Julia Smith, CEM, CTA. Introducing the first Woman of Achievement Award to Smith, the accolade recognizes a woman who has led the way in the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry, exhibited outstanding leadership, and made significant contributions to the industry and her community. As a current member of the IAEE Board of Directors, Smith was one of the first to earn the CEM designation.
Under the IAEE leadership of Chief Operating Officer Cathy Breden, the group addressed building, presenting and living one’s brand with a dynamic program that challenged the women to grow and innovate.
Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, authors of “Own the Room” and partners at the ISIS Association, led the discussion on “discovering your signature voice to master your leadership presence.” The group learned how mental ability, skill and physical conditioning all impact leadership styles as well as discussed how women can cultivate their best and highest use of insights to better inspire team and organizational performance.
To optimize results, women leaders need to confidently use the resources they have at hand – within themselves, their companies and teams as well as within their vast networks to reach desired outcomes. The authors addressed the value of understanding the stakeholders and their issues and concerns. Critical to better understanding how to best motivate teams, customers and stakeholders, the women were encouraged to listen on many levels – at the surface, at the issue level as well as on the emotional level.
Carrie Ferenac, president, Convention News Television, addressed the value of presenting one’s brand and speaking in sound bites to better communicate a message. Using her experience as a reporter, she outlined the do’s and don’ts of giving an interview and being in front of a camera.
“To best communicate in an interview, my key tips are: speak in complete sentences, avoid acronyms, give subjective thoughts instead of just listing facts, don’t give a speech, but instead simply talk to the reporter in a conversational style and lastly, get to know the reporter and ask for their contact information, so you can follow up later,” Ferenac explained.
She asked the attendees to share their own 30-second elevator speech to clarify how the group could improve their messaging to ensure the first impression truly articulates what was intended.
“I believe in the power of communication, and I was honored to meet with so many influential and inspiring women to help them deliver messages in a brief, concise manner,” Ferenac concluded.
Colleen Rickenbacher, who is both owner of Colleen Rickenbacher Inc. and co-founder of Global Protocol, Etiquette & Civility Academy, led a breakout session geared to seasoned professionals covering how to lead and negotiate effectively across cultures. Among her achievements, Rickenbacher was recognized by “Meeting News Magazine” as One of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry. She was also inducted into the Hall of Fame and awarded the Lifetime Achievement designation by Texas Meetings & Events magazine, which is their highest honor.
Anne Marie Newman, vice president sales and marketing for ShowNets, attended the event with colleague Debra Walker and found the event to be inspirational and educational.
“The event industry is all about building strong partnerships and teamwork, and this gathering enabled very effective collaboration among the industry’s women leaders,” Newman commented.
Barbara Taylor Carpender, CMM, CHSC, who is the founder of Taylored Alliances, was also very pleased with the conference.
“It was such an outstanding group of women. Regardless of their place in the industry, everyone was willing to take the journey to name and claim their brand and to be partners in the success of others,” explained Carpender.
Many other attendees offered their key takeaways from the IAEE event.
IAEE Chief Operating Officer Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP
“First and foremost, I could not have been more pleased with the success of the Women’s Leadership Forum. I was impressed with the level of engagement throughout the day. Usually, with an all-day program, people multitask by checking their email or excusing themselves to take a call. These great women professionals, who by nature are multi-taskers, were focused until the end. I hoping that the program helped the ladies to identify, develop, present and live their personal brand.”
Taylored Alliances founder Barb Taylor Carpender, CMM, CHSC
“My key take-away from the day is the realization of what an outstanding group of women were gathered in the room. Regardless of their place in the industry, each and every one was willing to take the journey of the day openly and fearlessly. Their willingness to name and claim their brand and to be partners in in the success of others was incredibly gratifying! I was honored to be part of the process.”
Convention News Television LLC President Carrie Ferenac
“I was honored to speak to a room full of such influential and inspiring women. I believe in the power of communication, and hope I was able to give valuable advice on delivering a message in a brief, concise, clear way. I was inspired by the women around me, and learned a great deal; not only from the speakers, but also from the women I met. I will definitely be back next year and encourage all women to join us!”
San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau Assistant Director of Sales, Summer Davey
“My takeaway is to never get too busy with the day-to-day life (business and personal) so that I lose sight of my personal brand and selling myself.”
Wyndham Jade Director of National Accounts Lili Larson, CMP, CGMP, CHSE
“It was a great conference – I loved it! Particularly because it gave us an opportunity to reflect and to really see who we are. It also gave us the comfort by knowing we will always have a wonderful support group out there – ladies just like us who inspire us and help us all grow together.”
Fixation President and CEO Jean Whiddon
“This was my second year attending the WLF. I had modest expectations, and they were far exceeded. I learned a lot and made new friends. I am often impressed by the ways that professional women support each other. Those great qualities shined in last year’s and this year’s WLF, and it makes this event very unique. It’s a professional learning and nurturing environment. There’s no competitive vibe, no sales pressure, just an authentic curiosity to learn more and share more about each other.”
Events DC Director of Convention Services Joyce Watson
“Great event! I have two words: amazing and inspiring. To see all the women in that room and all the possible future leaders of this industry that I love was simply amazing and inspiring. I now understand that I have a brand and that I decide how that brand is perceived and received by all [who] I come in contact. I am committed to pay it forward by enrolling not just myself but two other junior senior level event managers to the conference next April.”
National School Boards Association Director of Exhibits Karen P. Miller, CEM
“This was the first time I attended the Women’s Leadership Forum. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the speakers and the relevance of the topics. It was much more introspective than I thought it would be and gave me some great takeaways that I will continue to work on and hone.”
National Trade Productions Inc. Director of Operations and Conferences Ellen M. Drudy, CEM
“The opening session by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins was engaging and provided examples on how your personal brand is seen by others and the various components [that] contribute to your personal brand. There were ideas given to the audience on the various ways to improve how you represent yourself to colleagues as well as new acquaintances.”
Water Environment Federation Senior Director of Conference Operations, Exhibitions & Sales Development, Pamela (Pam) Henry
“It was inspiring to attend a conference made up of all professional women – older, more experienced (that would include me), younger, less experienced and all in-between. The general session speakers who spoke about finding your ‘brand’ were very educational and informative.”
The Expo Group Vice President of Corporate Communications Dana Freker Doody
“I am proud that IAEE is taking steps to help unlock the full potential of women in the membership. This forum for building informal networks and teaching leadership skills can only boost the overall health of our industry.”
Core-Apps Sales Manager Kiki Janssens
“This was my second year at the WLF, and once again, it was a great experience. They introduced new topics and gave us the ability to focus on specific areas of our career for part of the day. And, as per usual, the networking is invaluable. Meeting such accomplished and wonderful women helps create a great community for our industry.”
National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. Senior Director of Exhibitions & Conferences Diedra A. Cauley, CEM, CMP
“Since I have worked in a predominately male-dominated industry for over 15 years, it is refreshing to attend an event such as the IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum. I was reminded that as women we have similar challenges, but we tend to be in competition mode all the time. We need to collaborate and learn from each other. I always thought personal branding was important for those in executive level positions, but after this forum, I’ve realized that I have a personal brand and need to invest in it as much as I invest in my career.”
ShowNets Administrative Operations Manager Debra Walker
“It was good to be with like-minded leaders to collaborate, share experiences and learn from each other. The morning guest speakers who wrote ‘Own the Room’ had very interesting information about how to find your signature voice. I could have spent the better part of the day with the two of them.”
National Trade Productions Inc. Vice President of Operations and Conferences Diane F. Vidoni, CEM
“The Women’s Leadership Forum is a wonderful learning opportunity for women across the events world. This one-day experience provides top-notch speakers in addition to opportunities to network with our peers.”