One of the fascinating things about the events industry is the wide and varied paths event professionals take to end up working in this space. The industry is vibrant and diverse because the people who create and share within it are vibrant and diverse. As we wait out our current situation in a state of reflection and speculation, it can be helpful to think back to what drew us to this work in the first place, and to lean into organizations and resources that can help us weather this storm together (and expand and learn in the meantime).
Our Director of Business Development, Renée Pittet, is focused on doing just that. A veteran event professional and key voice of leadership on our team, Renée is just as focused and driven now as ever, using this time to achieve her CSEP designation, to step into a new board seat, and to get to know our clients and collaborators on an entirely new level. Here’s more on Renée’s unique approach to this industry, and how she’s staying engaged and moving the needle forward right now.
On connecting in the time of COVID:
“It’s not about bugging people about the status of their event. We’re all moving at the rate we are allowed to move, and we’ll get there when we get there.”
Back when life was business as usual (remember business as usual?!), Renée’s days were spent in and out of various coffee shops, restaurants, and meeting spaces, and attending virtually every event that we sponsored or played a major role in bringing together.
“My focus is on what matters most to us, which is our clients,” she says of her day-to-day role. “I stay connected to and support all of our clients through relationships and strategies. At the end of the day, all of our clients are my client.”
These days, she’s staying just as connected as ever, even if those conversations are happening a little differently.
“I’m doing lots of virtual chats right now to keep up with our clients and partners during this time. I’m not focusing on talking about the events – we just chat. How are you, what are you doing… It’s not about bugging people about the status of their event. We’re all moving at the rate we are allowed to move, and we’ll get there when we get there.”
More than ever before, these conversations are purely about checking in, offering support, and maintaining those relationships she’s built over the years – relationships that are important both professionally and personally. And ironically, although we’ve been cut off from one another physically, Renée is finding that in many ways this strange scenario is actually leading to more personal connections.
“I’m getting to know clients a little more through this process – I’m seeing their kids and pets and husbands, and we just talk about whatever. I’ve actually really enjoyed it!”
Renée is noticing that most people she talks with are keen to get on Zoom to chat vs emails or even a phone call, and she thinks that this whole experience may just change the way we value connecting with one another moving forward, even once we’re able to be face-to-face again.
“I hope we don’t hide behind emails as much,” she says. “I hope it will cause more people to take the time to pick up the phone and talk to someone. It’s nice to connect with clients that I normally only check in with two times a year; I’m talking to them more now than ever. It’s the same with friends – it was impossible to get people together before because all of our lives are so busy, and now it’s been nice to connect regularly.”
On getting involved, getting credentialed, and moving the needle forward:
“It’s quantifying the experience that you have, and the value of it.”
Renée recently added some initials to her name, successfully obtaining her Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation through the International Live Events Association (ILEA). So why take the step?
“I’m not sure why I haven’t done it till now – I’ve talked about doing it for years,” Renée admits. “It was just time!”
Normal procrastination aside, achieving the designation allows Renée to mark and validate her over 10 years of experience in the events industry, and paves the way to her next steps as she continues to move the needle forward on both her own skills and her contributions to the industry.
“It’s quantifying the experience that you have, and the value of it,” she notes. “As I look to start speaking and joining boards, it adds that credibility to say you have that experience and those qualifications.”
On that note, another recent achievement for Renée comes in the form of her new role as Director of Alberta Relations for PCMA Canada West. Her two-year term will be focused on upping PCMA’s profile in Alberta, with the hope to raise awareness among meeting and event professionals in this province about the many great education and networking opportunities this organization provides.
As an attendee first, Renée can attest firsthand to what PCMA has to offer. In terms of high-value education opportunities, she points to the organization’s push to bring in speakers with fresh, diverse perspectives.
“They pull in new people, not the usual suspects,” she shares. “They’ll bring in non-industry people who can relate but have a fresh perspective, and they pull in speakers from across North America.”
It’s easy to feel frustrated by this period of professional downtime we’ve been forced into by circumstances outside of our control. But, this can actually be a great chance to reassess, plan for the future, and lay out goals. In fact, this new webinar series is designed to help you do just that during this time. Our industry associations are still there for us and working harder than ever before to provide the resources and outlets we need – getting involved has perhaps never been more essential. Read more on the value of industry associations here.
On recognizing your strengths and your passions, and creating the job you want:
“If you don’t love it, if the passion for what you do is gone, don’t keep doing it.”
Renée has been in the events industry for over a decade, but – like most of us – her path into this industry and the roles she’s found herself in have been winding. She points back to her summer birthday as where it all started.
“I’m a July baby!” says Renée. “I never had birthday parties growing up – I had Deep and Delicious cakes in a hotel room on the way to visit family in the summer. When I got to a certain age, I started to throw my own birthday parties! Eventually I got to be the one that would host the Halloween party, too; my house became the place that everyone could go and congregate.”
What she learned from this early start is pretty simple:
“I like people, and I like organizing people.”
After graduation, Renée headed to university where she studied marketing, but through various twists and turns she soon found herself in Austria, organizing school group trips as a ski resort manager. As with her childhood birthday parties, Renée landed in this role simply through expressing her interests and diving headfirst into an opportunity, and her drive and abilities allowed her to grow that job into producing larger events at the resort. Back in Canada, a position at an oil and gas company again naturally evolved around her love for people and events; the company ended up creating a role for her in this vein. Eventually Renée stepped directly into the events industry and – to our great benefit – she ultimately landed at OneWest, where she has continued to follow her own path and build a role that allows the unique skills and abilities she’s cultivated over the years to fully shine.
“When I came to OneWest, event production was my thing. Based on what OneWest and our clients needed, and my strengths and experience, we pivoted my role to Director of Business Development.”
This role fills an important niche at OneWest, where she functions as Dustin’s right hand, works closely with our Project Managers, and most importantly, passionately supports our clients and their goals. It’s a role perfectly suited to her strengths and personality as a true “people person,” making it a perfect fit on both sides of the equation. For Renée, creating the job she wants, rather than trying to fit herself into an existing role, has been key to building a career that she continues to feel fulfilled by and engaged with, and she points to this concept when asked about the best career advice she’s ever received.
“If you don’t love it, if the passion for what you do is gone, don’t keep doing it.”
On what matters most to her:
“Our not-for-profit clients have a special place in my heart.”
Everyone has seen some level of fairly drastic change recently, and we’re all struggling to adjust and adapt. As we work to keep our own industry and businesses running, and to do our part to support local small businesses, the not-for-profit sector really needs our help and attention as well.
“Our not-for-profit clients have a special place in my heart for sure,” Renée says. “They are all going through it just as much as we are and struggling with how to find the dollars.”
Financial contributions are one way to help, but if that’s not an option for you right now, many organizations are still welcoming donations of urgently needed goods. Spreading awareness is another great way to support causes you care about. You can see what some of our dedicated and inspiring not-for-profit clients are experiencing, how they are adapting, and how you can best help right now in this post.
Got some Zoom time?
Curious to hear more about CSEP or PCMA? Not sure what to do about the event you had planned? Just looking to see a new face (ie. someone who doesn’t live in the same house as you)?? Renée is always up for enjoying a responsibly distanced beverage of your choice – reach out to set something up!