What 13 Event Leaders Love About Events
We spoke with event leaders from Yext, Intel, Forbes, and other top brands about what inspires them. Here’s what they said.
In an increasingly digital world, face-to-face interactions cut through the noise, spark new ideas, and create memorable experiences that can last a lifetime.
Earlier this year we launched the IN-PERSON Podcast to tell the stories behind the world’s greatest events and the people who make them happen. In each episode of IN-PERSON, we meet with event leaders from brands like IBM, Forbes, Cisco, KPMG, Adobe, and SXSW to explore top-of-mind topics for event leaders.
Here’s a look at how some of our guests fell in love with events, how they look toward attendees to stay inspired, and how they ride the roller-coaster field of expertise known as event marketing.
Falling In Love With Event Planning
“When I was in college I knew that I loved business and I knew that I loved marketing. And one of the pieces that I really loved around it was the networking aspect, and bringing people together and presenting. I fell in love with creating experiences for employees and companies, and I knew that that was kind of my path.”
Lindsay McKenna, VP of Revenue Marketing at Yext
“I started my career in public relations, and quickly through PR realized I didn’t love smiling and dialing. But the thing that I did love is when we were launching events and I was designing experiences.”
Dana Pake, Senior Director of Global Experiences at InVision
“I think what I did find was from having done retail and catering and then knowing that that wasn’t for me, I really love this industry. So that was great actually to have had that experience because suddenly I knew that I’d found something that I really enjoyed.”
Carina Bauer, CEO at IMEX
“I got into the events business because I wanted to travel, but understood that there’s a business side to events. back in early 2000, I was at the MPI WEC conference or world education conference that was taking place in Toronto and I took a session about event strategy, and ultimately, I believe that changed the course of my career. I left the session so inspired and it was really about connecting to the business side and using events to drive business performance, and from that moment on, I haven’t looked back.”
Nicola Kastner, Global Head of Event Marketing Strategy at SAP
Drawing Inspiration from Attendees
“Certainly, another thing that I always love is hearing from attendees of South by Southwest when they say that, ‘This is my favorite time of the year’, or ‘I came here, I got a new job out of it, I met someone who eventually became my co-founder, or who funded my company’, ‘I met my boyfriend’, ‘my girlfriend’, ‘my wife’, ‘my husband’, ‘It was a life-changing event.’”
Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer at SXSW
“First and foremost at the heart of our events is networking. How do we create experiences for attendees that allow them to meet others in their similar line of work or folks that are not in their line of work where they can glean some lessons or experiences or even make connections so that they can continue to have conversations even after the event.”
Karen Merritt, Head of Owned and Operated Events at LinkedIn
“You can see from the moment you get on-site, from all the work that the team does to make this a special unique experience. Even when I was talking to the attendees there, they were all in awe about the quality of attendees and the quality of speakers.”
Chardia Christophe-Garcia, Marketing Director at Forbes
“I love people at the core of who I am, and that’s why I love creating experiences for them.”
Kendyl Wright, Founder of LOUDER Experiences
Riding The Thrill Of Events
“I love when people walk into a HYPERGROWTH event and they go, “Wow, it’s different again.” And I love feeling and I feel like that’s something with the venues.”
Janna Erickson, Director of Events at Drift
“We’ve really set the bar high, which I love, because I always want to outdo ourselves. I never want to compare ourselves to others, but I definitely want to challenge ourselves to better and improve every single year whether it’s through the aesthetic, whether it’s through the technology, whether it’s through the opening experience, and the way we engage with our audience, and make them feel an emotional reaction.”
Devin Cleary, VP of Experiential Marketing at PTC
“At the end of the day, I love my job because I know that I’m affecting positive change in folks, and really challenging maybe some of the social norms that are out there.”
Andréa Long, Global Diversity Events Manager at Twilio
“I loved the thrill of that. Creating amazing stories about what our clients were doing was just so exciting to me. That is at my core from a marketing perspective, but I took that storytelling excitement all the way through my entire career.”
Alyson Griffin, VP of Global Marketing at Intel
“I really just love being around creativity. I love being around beautiful work and I love getting insight into the process. It really demystifies it for me.”
Andrea Rosen, Head of 99U at Adobe 99U
Looking for more event inspiration during the season of love? Check out more perspectives from industry leaders with the IN-PERSON Collection Ebook.