EDUCATION I received my bachelor of science degree in accounting at Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business. I continued my studies at Harvard Business School’s OPM program, a three-year course for owners and presidents of private companies.
MY FIRST INDUSTRY JOB After a few years in accounting at KPMG as a CPA in the real estate practice, I knew it wasn’t going to be a lifelong pursuit. I started in a small boutique shop that produced high-end corporate events for a few years.
MY PREVIOUS THREE JOBS I founded ProActive Inc. in 1993 and served as CEO for 14 years. I then sold my business to Freeman, taking on the role of senior vice president of creative at Freeman for four years.
In 2011, I founded a business to build BOB.tv — Best of Business Television and ran the company until 2015.
WHAT I DO NOW I serve AlliedPRA as CEO. I am also a member of the AlliedPRA Board and a shareholder. Among other industry board positions, I am proud to serve as a Trustee on the PCMA Education Foundation.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB We have a very real opportunity to change an entire sector of the industry, and in doing so help elevate business events into a more prominent position in the broader business community.
Our industry is critically important to the way that business gets done, and yet, that significance isn’t always reflected. At AlliedPRA, we have the team, experience, strategy, capital partners, and industry position to help everyone — particularly those who aren’t involved in business events — understand the role that face-to-face plays in fueling results.
MOST INFLUENCED IN MY CAREER BY I’m not just saying it because this interview is for Convene — Deborah Sexton truly is my hero. We have known each other for 30 years. Throughout our journey, we have been in it together, one way or another. I have learned more from Deborah about personal courage and straight-ahead innovation than anyone in my entire life.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL MISTAKE Oh, there have been so many mistakes! I left what was arguably the greatest job in the industry at Freeman to make a hard run to build out BOB.tv. It was an idea that I wanted to chase down, and I couldn’t do it within the traditional confines of a corporation. I learned so much on so many fronts — more so than any other period in my life. There is a saying out there: “Pioneers get the arrows. Pilgrims get the land.” We were pioneers in the area of online video content in the events industry. We had many of the smartest and most respected executives in our industry supporting us. My mistake was in thinking I could turn everyone into a believer in a timeframe that was unrealistic.
MY NEXT BIG CAREER GOAL I have a relentless focus on redefining the sector we lead at AlliedPRA. Our sector is so critical to the success of business events. But over the years, this sector has managed to lose the position it rightly deserves. Through scale and a different business model we are building, we have a shot at creating new value for our clients, which is otherwise not possible in our sector today.
MY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MEETING PROFESSIONALS Borrowing from our recently crafted stated values for our entire business with these three key pieces of advice:
1) Serve with humility — Bring your best individual talent to your work every day. That said, your team members and partners are essential to your personal success. Your clients are the stars as they honor you with the opportunity to help them move their businesses forward.
2) Deliver with intensity — With passion and creativity, deliver your craft with absolute conviction. You must also evolve and grow. Change is hard but rich with reward when done well. Venture outside your comfort zone in an environment of leadership, intelligent risk, and a brave team spirit.
3) Own your results — Take pride in the new value you create in everything you do.
Celebrate your wins, and learn from your losses. Be accountable for your outcomes, whatever they are, at every turn.