Career Path

Roberta Odebrecht, Account Director, K.I.T. Group

'Always keep a keen eye out for new opportunities.'

roberta_odebrecht_ square_2016-12Career Path: Roberta Odebrecht 

Account Director, K.I.T. Group GmbH, Berlin, Germany

EDUCATION

Professional diploma in management, The Open University, United Kingdom.

MY FIRST INDUSTRY JOB

After completing the three-year management-training program for the InterContinental Berlin hotel, I moved far away for my first industry job, in Cancun, Mexico, where I joined the events department at the Fiesta Americana Cancun hotel. We organized all sorts of meetings, but also fun events like pool parties and beach Olympics for the many incentive groups that flocked to Cancun to enjoy the Caribbean sun.

MY PREVIOUS THREE JOBS

Before joining K.I.T. Group 12 years ago, I had already experienced many different segments of the hospitality and events industry, working with diverse clients and in wildly different parts of the world. Returning from the exotic Caribbean to familiar Europe, I entered the meetings sector, with which I was less familiar. Working as senior events planner at Nike Europe’s corporate HQ in Hilversum, The Netherlands, I organized global retail events, booths at trade exhibitions, and product presentations for the European sales force.

After that, I then went on to further consolidate my business-development and meetings profile in Hamburg at the InterContinental hotel, where I was the convention sales manager. Later, I came back to my hometown Berlin as deputy manager of the Bocca di Bacco restaurant, where I was charged with creating the original concept, the open-ing, and subsequently managing the restaurant for its first five years.

WHAT I DO AT K.I.T.

Group GmbH is a professional conference organizer (PCO) and association management company (AMC) with its HQ in Berlin and worldwide offices in places as far afield as Paris, Abu Dhabi, and Beijing. As account director on the Team International, I support international associations to strategically plan and execute their global congresses and events of all sizes, shapes, and forms. Most of our clients are in the life sciences, but I am also fortunate enough to have major clients in the cultural sector. I have always believed that variety is the spice of life, and working across different segments allows us to cross-pollinate concepts and develop original yet proven solutions in new contexts.

MOST INFLUENCED IN MY CAREER BY

I was blessed early in my career to work with Jacqueline Volkart, at the time director of the group and conventions department at CasaMagna Marriott Cancun. Jacqueline is currently general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM HER

Jacqueline is a great leader who inspired me to always excel at what I am doing. She lived Marriott’s core values of putting people first, giving the associates opportunities to grow and succeed in the company. She also encouraged me to be creative and to follow my dreams.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB

I love working with passionate people and being part of a great team. Organizing international conferences is a great experience that involves working with different cultures. It gives me the opportunity to apply my cross-cultural skills and my six languages. Our profession is so varied, and the array of challenging situations that we face offers us endless opportunities to create and build value both for our clients and for the K.I.T Group itself.

MY NEXT BIG CAREER GOAL

It is great to see clients and staff develop under my guidance. Above all, I think it is vital to share and promote best practices, to remain open to new ways of doing things, and to always keep a keen eye out for new opportunities.

MY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MEETING PROFESSIONALS

Go to PCMA Convening Leaders early in your career. There, you can get inspired at a top-notch level and you can make great contacts. Take advantage of industry education programs such as CMP, DES, etc. Think big, strive for greatness — and never forget that the devil is in the details!

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.