C&IT recently spoke to Laura Brown, Senior Vice-President Of Operations for Ashfield Meetings & Events in the US, about her journey to the top of the sector and advice for other event professionals who want to take charge of their career.
I recently read about the 2017 C&IT A-Listers and it made me reminisce about when I was fortunate enough to be Ashfield Meetings & Events' representative. It was five years ago now and a lot has changed since then in business, politics and with me personally. I am still with Ashfield but have moved to the States where I work out of our Pennsylvania office. I was promoted to Senior Vice-President Of Operations and have also joined our board. I consider myself very fortunate to be in this position and wanted to share some hints and tips with this year’s A-Listers to help them make the most of their careers.
In order to succeed in these fast-paced times, both as a businesses and as individuals, we need to be adaptable and flexible to change. Change is the driver that can open up opportunities allowing you to broaden your experiences. I have found that embracing change has made a huge difference in my career. It allows you to gain different perspectives of a specific role, business or sector. As a result, it allows you to connect the dots to find unconcealed ideas and value for your business or your clients’ events. With this in mind my first piece of advice would be to embrace change and never rule out a horizontal or vertical career move. Say yes to opportunities and figure out how to do it later!
My second piece of advice would be that you need to be your own biggest advocate and the driver of change; if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Let your managers and senior leaders know you are ambitious, talk through your career plans, ask for opportunities and above all take advantage of them when presented. You also need to frequently ask for feedback from everyone around you. I think that sometimes we are so focused on the work that we do that we forget to check in and ask how we are doing and what we can do better next time. The feedback process has helped me throughout my career and something I encourage amongst my teams to help drive personal development. If you are prepared to act on feedback, whether it is positive or negative, you can find quick and easy wins to help you improve and ultimately progress.
Thirdly, I would recommend trying to boost your profile. I believe the best way is to make friends and always be ethical. This doesn’t just have to just be within your business but across the whole industry and even outside of it. Your supply chain and the partnerships you make will be invaluable to a steady career and may make life easier along the way. Put yourself forward for supplier and industry initiatives to help build your network and provide exposure to the brand of you. Volunteer to be part of discussions at industry associations or represent your company in panel discussions or speaking engagements at trade shows. This increases your profile, strengthens your skill set and really gets you noticed.
Finally, I think displaying leadership qualities is essential. Clients want solutions to problems and to feel that their agency is steering the event as an expert. Take a consultative approach and be prepared to push back with better ideas if you don’t think your suggestions will work. A leader researches and asks the right questions. By doing this and applying creative thinking in the right place you could come up with the next big idea to help your clients be prepared, identify new opportunities and be more successful.
The original version of this article appeared here.