Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Robertson Whitehead.
Christina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I moved from Massachusetts to go to Emory University, where I got my degree in Theater Studies – I wound up working for a software company, helping with their reseller training, but the head of marketing decided I’d be good at trade shows (“what’s a trade show?”) and drafted me into her department. Next thing you know I was personally handling our 450 person reseller conference and the rest is history.
I worked for a few software companies managing marketing events, and then spent five fabulous years working for a third party event agency where I really learned everything about the corporate event industry as I planned meetings, conferences, incentive trips, PR events, corporate retreats, product launches and even a Superbowl party for Penthouse Magazine.
After I left that company I worked independently as a contract planner for a few years (incorporated as MUSE Productions at that time), and when the economy tanked I moved back to the in-house corporate world working first as the International Marketing Manager at one company, and then Senior Marketing Events Manager for another.
When they downsized in January 2013 I went back to my own company and I’ve been happily working as an independent corporate event planner and consultant since then. As MUSE Productions I work partly direct with corporate clients, and I also get brought on by event agencies as an extension of their team for both pre-planning and onsite event execution. It’s been 20 years, and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been an entertaining and twisty road: events are inherently expensive, and they’re the first things cut when economic times get hard or budgets get slashed. The industry has had to change and adapt along the way: when I started in the late 90’s there was still an economic boom, and companies were going all out on their programs, spending top dollar.
Trade shows were still a popular way to get leads. When 9/11 hit the industry sank for a while – no one wanted to travel to meetings and conferences, and the events and hospitality industries both took big hits; they took years to recover. Even now it’s a big ebb and flow, especially as an independent: feast or famine, as they say.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about MUSE Productions – what should we know?
MUSE Productions is primarily just me, but for larger programs, I’m able to pull from a network of terrific Atlanta planners, suppliers and event staff to supplement my services, and I love when I get the opportunity to do that (it’s a very supportive and teamwork-oriented industry.) My strength really lies in logistics and details, which are the backbone of successful events. I teach an event planning certificate program at Emory University Center for Continuing Education, and I always tell my students that a successful planner is a juggler, a diplomat, a magician, a cat herder, and a swan on a lake (our clients and attendees should always see us gliding smoothly on the water, while we’re paddling furiously underneath.)
I’m really proud of my ability to jump in on numerous areas onsite: I had a client who hired me to help on the production side of a conference, and he said one of the great things about having me there was that he knew if he needed help in any other areas during the conference he could just pull me in. I’m known for being an enthusiastic team player with my clients, vendors and suppliers, and always willing to step in wherever needed, whether it’s high-level strategy or stuffing welcome bags.
What sets me apart is that I’ve had the fortune to plan and manage all over the world, in a variety of industries, and really from every conceivable angle (as the client, the strategist, event staff, registration manager, food and beverage manager, production and stage manager, etc.). Because I’ve worked both in-house and third-party I understand the client/supplier relationships and how to make them successful.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I have crazy enthusiasm for what I do! I’m very high energy most of the time, with a positive outlook and a determination to fix All The Problems. I’m an extrovert who loves getting attendees smiling and in a good mood, but I’m also happy to be behind the scenes making sure events are running smoothly.
- Website: www.muse-productions.net
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinawhiteheadcmp/