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40 Under 40: Rae M. Hawkins, SYNNEX Corporation

Rae M. Hawkins, 34, works in Greenville, South Carolina, as senior event specialist at SYNNEX Corporation. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Hawkins discusses her passion for the events industry

What I do: As an in-house planner for a steadily growing IT distribution company, I plan and execute a wide range of events including incentive trips, trainings, parties, road shows, exhibitions and conferences. Recently, I have taken a lead on our larger conferences. I love the puzzle that is making an ever-changing agenda and vendor needs fit into the meeting space that was contracted. How I got here: I am a trained artist with a BFA from one of the country’s top art and design schools, but as a student I worked in the events department, which ran all the event venues and lectures on campus. I started out as a student worker and was promoted to technician, then coordinator and eventually acting assistant director. When I finally left (nine years later), I knew I didn’t want to run a venue anymore. I tried several things and eventually landed at SYNNEX, where I fell in love with its fast-paced environment. My greatest career accomplishment: I think my greatest career accomplishment would be finding success after completely starting my career over. When I started at SYNNEX, I was thrown into planning from day one. I had to learn about the corporate world, the hospitality industry, hotel contracts and the world of BEOs. Coming from running venues at a college, this was all foreign. I think I was able to adapt quickly and excel to the point of taking on much more than what was expected from my position. Impressive stats: Most recently, my senior vice president jokingly challenged me to reduce a budget by 12 percent. We all had a good laugh in the room, but when the final numbers came in, I had barely missed the mark by a few thousand dollars. I take my budgets for conferences seriously, as any of my colleagues will tell you, but this time I even surprised myself. What I’m working on: This year I am excited to be working on not one but two back-to-back conferences in one of my favorite cities: Austin, Texas. What I do outside of work: I love to cook, spend time on my new house (with never-ending renovations) and travel with my husband. It sounds boring but when you’re constantly on the road, it is the little things. Five phrases that identify me: Wife; aunt; artist; problem-solver; traveler