Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hahn.
Melissa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started my career in Purchasing at HSBC. I fell in love looking for the right product for my customers and making them happy by providing solutions, cost savings and great customer service. I have always liked planning birthday parties, wedding showers and fundraising events.
A few years into my career in Purchasing, I started taking classes at the College of DuPage in the Hospitality Industry where I met Michele Wierzgac. Michele was my teacher, and also a mentor. She was great in pushing me to get involved in the Student Chapter of PCMA. I was hooked after that and there was no turning back for me. I finally found my passion what I was born to do.
After finishing my Associate degree in Travel and Tourism, certificates in planning and ground transportation at College of DuPage, I heard of a job opening for a Meeting Planner at HSBC. I knew the manager Sharon and I expressed my love of planning and how I had finished my education to pursue my dream of planning.
That was 20 years ago and I’m happy to report that I still wake up every day with the same passion and I love what I do.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a smooth road with a few bumps in the road. In 2009 with the downturn of the economy, I lost my planning job and took a role on the intranet communications team. I did the job, but new my passion was in Planning.
I landed a job planning large events for Associations a few years later. I went from planning meetings of 100-500 to meetings up to 27,000 attendees. I will never forget the first meeting I planned and to see 6,000 people walking into a General Session. Wow! Just think, that is more people walking into a General Session than what lives in a majority of small towns in Illinois.
Life is not always smooth sailing, but when you adjust your attitude and keep the wind at your back rather than fight against it, you grow and it always leads you to where you should be. For me, that is my present job as a Senior Account Lead for Meetings & Incentives Worldwide.
Meetings & Incentives Worldwide – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The company I work for is Meetings & Incentives Worldwide. (http://www.meetings-incentives.com/) We are a woman-owned company. (Jean Johnson & Tina Madden are the owners). We specialize in planning meetings, conferences, incentives, special events and tradeshows.
We are known for our great service, our talented employees and the ability to transform organizations through live meetings and events. Our purpose we believe seamless and engaging experiences which capitalize on the need of human connections, and the energy that is generated when people come together is when the magic happens….. motivating a sales force, building a cohesive team, increasing customer and employee loyalty, launching a product, training, strategizing, etc..
Our Mission is to serve as an extension of our customers’ event resources, ensure a comprehensive understanding of their goals and objectives, and deliver high quality, impactful, and value-driven results.
Our Vision is to be the leading meeting, incentive and conference management company in regards to service and reputation, driving results for organizations across the globe.
What are we most proud of as a company? I have to say one of my proud moments this past year and also one of our core value is the commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. We picked 50 charities this year to celebrate our 50 year anniversary. Everyone in our company is committed to raising money, awareness, and/or volunteering thru the year. Check out our Twitter, Facebook page for photos of some of the great things we are doing in the community across the US and the UK. (http://www.meetings-incentives.com/about-us/corporate-responsibility/)
What sets us apart is our commitment to service. We are committed to providing the best service and we proudly wear our Hospitality Heroes pin when we are onsite because we are passionate about what we do and we love our customers.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
A successful event planner has a toolbox filled with an impressive skillset. For me, I would narrow them down to these 7 critical characteristics to provide and organize a successful event:
1). Extremely Organization – Success is in the details.
2). Excellent Communications – Communication is key to a successful event. To be a successful planner you must have excellent and effective written and verbal communication. A simple misunderstanding can have catastrophic results. When there is a change, ask your self Who should know? What should they know? When should they know? How should I communicate?
3). Fabulous Listener
4). Effective Multitasker – Meeting planning truly is a juggling act. When planning an event, there are numerous tasks being managed. Hotels, Restaurants, Speakers, Audio Visual, Clients, Stakeholders, Attendees, catering and the list goes on. Success lies in the ability to focus on each task in the priority order without being overwhelmed by the numerous things that need your attention.
5). Be Creative – Successful event planners are creative. They provide solutions to the most complex problems. Being able to think creatively can positively impact the success of your event.
6). Be a Hospitality Hero – Be obsessed and committed to your customer and attendees. Make your client and attendees feel like the most important person in the room. Greet your attendees with a smile, be courteous, and make eye contact. It doesn’t cost anything to smile!
7). Networker / Relationship Builder – One of my keys to success is networking. Get involved in the industry, learn new things, and meet new people in our industry. Chicago is full of some great and talented professionals and vendors.
Success lies in the ability to prioritize and focus My definition of success is knowing what you are doing is helping others grow in their career,
- Website: http://www.meetings-incentives.com/
Alicja Burek, Jeff Durocher