Career Path

Elizabeth Goad Never Stops Learning

Every road led to event planning, says this meeting professional.

Elizabeth Goad, CMP, Director of Meetings and Events, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA)

EDUCATION

Bachelor’s degree in visual communications and Spanish, Peace College (now William Peace University).

MY FIRST INDUSTRY JOB

Marketing and graphic design for Accent Imaging, a printer and copier company in North Carolina. I designed promotional materials and helped manage internal and customer events.

MY PREVIOUS THREE JOBS

When I relocated to South Carolina, I fell back on my marketing and design skills and took a job working for Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates. While the main focus of my job was to help market the real-estate agents, I researched events at which to promote our agency as well. I would set up booths and organize teams for charity events like Relay for Life. Wanting to be closer to family, I moved back to North Carolina, where I took a job working for the National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter. In my role there, I got to know more of the behind-the-scenes functions of an event planner and experienced the association world for the first time. It’s amazing how each job on my career path started with a focus in marketing and design, yet quickly segued into event planning of some sort.

WHAT I DO

AASA helps aftermarket suppliers advance their business interests. As the event director, I am responsible for crafting, planning, and executing our events; I lead teams of people before, during, and after each event to ensure its success. Planning requires a lot of contract work, negotiations, budgeting, and managing outcomes to objectives. AASA is co-owner of AAPEX [Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo], a top 50 U.S. trade show. I also work closely on this event, making sure it is beneficial to our members and the industry.

MOST INFLUENCED IN MY CAREER BY

While I have had a lot of influential people in my life (from mentors and teachers to bosses and co-workers), I have to give this honor to my father.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM HIM

My father has always instilled in me, leading by example, that we never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you stop succeeding. This has really been a motto for me throughout my career. I am always grasping at knowledge, finding sources in classes, events, seminars, workshops, peers, articles, and co-workers.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB

Seeing all your hard work pay off in the form of a successful event and happy attendees/members is the most fulfilling part of the job. But honestly, I secretly enjoy having a million things going on at once and checking each one off the list. Event management involves juggling a lot of balls at once; I get a thrill out of making sure none of those balls falls and that each task is accomplished in a way that benefits the company and our vision forward.

MY NEXT BIG CAREER GOAL 

We are always striving to find new ways to engage and provide value to our members. My goal is to pinpoint the right combination of events that reach the most employees within each member company; each event strategically structured to truly engage, educate, and advance business interests. I want to steer away from doing things the way we have always done them, utilizing what works and truly embracing all the new tools and resources available to the meetings and exhibitions industry.

On a personal level, I strive to be recognized as a leader in the industry; a source of knowledge and a mentor to others. It is important to me that those interested in an event-related career know that, even though it can be stressful at times, it is a truly rewarding career.

MY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MEETING PROFESSIONALS

It may be cliché, but knowledge is power. The more you surround yourself with industry peers, educators, and other sources of information, the more successful you will be. Never stop learning. 

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.