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2022 Connect x BizBash 40 Under 40: Laura Hess

Laura Hess, 30, is the senior sourcing operations specialist at HPN Global.

Laura Hess

Laura Hess, 30, is the senior sourcing operations specialist at HPN Global. She's based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

What I do:
As a part of HPN Global's sourcing operations team, I provide specialized sourcing of programs out to our industry partners around the world. Using the knowledge base I have gained through research, trade shows and networking, I select the partners that best fit the needs of our clients and the programs we are sourcing. I act as an expert and guide to our associates and clients in the best-suited properties for their needs. I manage the operational delegation of duties with our team daily and provide customized services for our executive team.

Why I love my job:
My passion has always been to bring people’s ideas and make them come to life; this job allows me to do this for our clients every day, connecting them with best, most fitting industry partners. I love that I am constantly growing my knowledge of what our industry has to offer, discovering all the beautiful properties and interesting facets, which are awe-inspiring and exciting. HPN Global is truly a family that I am lucky to be a part of and grow within. 

My career journey: 
My heart has always been with the travel industry, and I have known this is the world in which I wanted to live and work. I completed my degree from ASU in Business Tourism with a specialization in Special Events Management and Convention Sales and Meeting Planning. I have worked in the hospitality industry my entire career, from restaurant service to food and beverage director at an award-winning hotel, to my current home at HPN providing specialized sourcing for clients. 

My greatest career accomplishment:
Though I truly believe that my greatest accomplishments are to come, most recently I would say that it's being an integral part of the business operations during a global pandemic and helping to keep our company and team moving forward. In addition to that, I have been an integral part of gaining to the companies I have worked for industry/brand awards and recognition, such as multiple Connie Awards. I have consistently risen through the ranks within each company I have been a part of and managed teams of wonderful people. In my current role, I have helped industry partners stand out to our associates through highlighting promotional opportunities, coordinating educational webinars/presentations/events, and creating opportunities for connection and education.

How I helped my organization during COVID:
Throughout the COVID pandemic, I supported my company's 150 associates as part of a team of two, reduced from a team of 10. I continued sourcing and supporting programs for our clients and associates while maintaining a steady workload and assuming additional responsibilities. 

The time I averted a complete event disaster:
With our team being drastically reduced during the pandemic, I came across many hiccups and difficulties. Not only with the smaller team but the cancellations of business, tracking the pandemic to be able to place programs during the gathering bans, and adapting to the new conference world we are in. I was constantly learning and adapting to the circumstances of the world with the support of my work family, and was able to stay on supporting HPN throughout the entirety of the pandemic and beyond.

My most memorable event experience in the past year:
Helping to produce and attending our HPN Global annual Partner Conference in Cabo this past October. This was an amazing coming-together of our industry family, and the first time many of us have seen each other since this pandemic began. Networking, wonderful speakers and my HPN extended family all gathered together in one place! 

Best advice I’ve ever received:
Never stop growing, don’t be afraid of change and be gentle with yourself.

Impressive stats I’m responsible for: 
My team is sourcing an average of 50 RFPs a day for our clients. In addition to the sourcing, currently I am working on multiple citywide conventions programs, developing new educational programs within our team and supporting our 150 HPN associates.

What’s next? 
Continuing to grow my knowledge base of what our industry has to offer, and pursuing industry certifications such as the CMP. Working to keep the travel industry coming back strong post-pandemic world and placing programs throughout the world. Continuing to support, streamline and lead my team as a senior member of HPN’s sourcing operations while we grow and flourish.

What I do outside of work: 
I love spending time with my friends, family, fiancĂ© and puppy! Whether by the pool, out adventuring or hosting a dinner party, I love surrounding myself with my loved ones. I am also lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful states, Arizona, that I love exploring—from the food to the culture to the endless outdoor adventures. Researching my next travel destination and taking that trip is always on the list, too! 

Dream vacation:
Planning my upcoming honeymoon has given me a lot of time to think about this and ponder on my ever-growing travel bucket list! My dream vacation would be exploring the Greek Isles, living and experiencing what each of the isles has to offer like a local, and learning to slow down and enjoy all life’s little moments.

Favorite icebreaker line:
Asking where they are from and their favorite local spot. Or asking if they have any pets—and to share pictures if they do! (Of course, sharing pictures of my puppy in the process!)

Connect with Hess on LinkedIn and Instagram

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“Connect x BizBash 40 Under 40” is sponsored by VDA, an experiential marketing and event design agency based in Massachusetts that specializes in custom live, virtual and hybrid experiences.