Career Path

Christine ‘Shimo’ Shimasaki on Opportunity

'Opportunities will come along and may appear smaller at first glance, when in reality they could be much bigger.'

Christine ‘Shimo’ Shimasaki, CDME, CMP 

Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki

President, 2Synergize, Inc.

EDUCATION Bachelor of science in kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles; master of business administration, San Diego State University.

MY FIRST INDUSTRY JOB I consider my first industry job to be when I was just 21 and ended up owning an employee recreation agency called Outrageous Experiences Inc. We attempted to solve the employee-retention problems of Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies by creating company-sponsored events such as river rafting, hot-air ballooning, and Napa Valley wine tours. My father, however, never described that as a job! Even when I subsequently went to work for Atari as the employee activities administrator — that didn’t qualify either. It wasn’t until I went to work as an account executive for Marriott’s Great America Theme Parks that I entered the more traditional job world.

MY PREVIOUS THREE JOBS  Managing Director, empowerMINT and Event Impact Calculator, Destination Marketing Association International, 2009–2017; Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1993– 2009; Director of Sales, Marriott Hotels and Resorts (most notably Marriott Santa Barbara Biltmore, Marriott Rancho Las Palmas, and San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina), 1983–1993.

WHAT I DO NOW I provide consulting services to convention and visitors bureaus, helping their sales professionals with buyer insights and the development of citywide sales strategies. I also aspire to help address our industry’s room-block dilemmas with hybrid event-housing solutions.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB I have two favorites. My new job gives me the opportunity to work more closely with professionals of our industry who have a high desire to create a positive impact on their customers, teams, and the communities they serve, and the freedom and liberty to combine 30-plus years of hotel, CVB, and meetings industry experience to help solve some of our industry’s oldest problems.

MOST INFLUENCED IN MY CAREER BY Reint Reinders, former president and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. He not only had a different perspective on the situation at hand than most people, but he also would have such a high volume of ideas. As his number two, I became the idea filter and called them ONNAGIs. Staff thought it was a Japanese word of mine, but in reality it meant “oh no, not another great idea!” What I learned from Reint is that his perspectives and ONNAGIs were derived from listening and learning from others. I also was the beneficiary of great leadership in Reint, and I think [business author and speaker] Simon Sinek sums it up the best: “Great leaders are idealists. They are optimists. They overestimate what we are capable of and inspire us to believe the same.”

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL MISTAKE The biggest mistake I made was trying to force something to happen because I wanted it to happen now. This was related to a career move from the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina to the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. What I didn’t recognize was the impact this desire would have on the delicate balance between a headquarters hotel and a CVB, and the complications that would ensue. Needless to say, I wasn’t “hirable,” and it put into question my loyalty. What I learned is that life has a cadence, and if we are open and self-aware, we can appreciate and be present to the fact opportunities will happen when they are supposed to happen. I learned patience and perseverance, both of which have served me well in my career. And I actually made the move to the CVB one year later.

MY NEXT BIG CAREER GOAL I inherently love to learn and love to teach, and I think the two go hand in hand. Just last year, I completed a certificate course from the University of California, Irvine in eLearning and instructional design. I see this in my future, and will practice patience and perseverance for that to come to fruition.

MY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MEETING PROFESSIONALS Be open. It’s like the engraving on the car’s side mirror: “Objects are closer than they appear.” Opportunities will come along and may appear smaller at first glance, when in reality they could be much bigger. Recognize that we all have so many preconceived ideas, but let’s not be so quick to judge. Whether it’s a career move or an important decision, personally or professionally, consult with others you trust and learn from their perspectives.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.