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2022 Connect x BizBash 40 Under 40: Thuy Diep

Thuy Diep (2E Deep), 32, is a senior experience designer at Haute.

Thuy Diep

Thuy Diep (2E Deep), CGSP, DMCP, CSEP, is the 32-year-old senior experience designer at Haute. She's based in Los Angeles.

What I do: 
Every day is beautifully unique in the world of experience design. Very briefly, I conceptualize with the collaboration of our trusted supplier partners on memorable events for Haute’s corporate clients, with their audience in mind and as inspiration.

Community and communication are the name of the game. My role as a designer is to keep the momentum from strategy and design, creative, media, production, accounts and events ever moving forward—all while dreaming big. The same is true in working with the many supplier partners to ensure client success and providing peace of mind for all wherever I’m present.  

Why I love my job:
I feel so fortunate to have a career in this segment of business in the huge, diverse and welcoming community that exists in this industry. You’re my kind of people!

My career journey: 
Early on, I was a professional cheerleader for NECA (New England Cheerleaders Association) and pushed my creativity towards choreography and coaching, then eventually became the interviewer for the All-Star Cheerleading World Championships in Disney World. I’ve also worked as an entertainment supplier partner and for a destination management company, and with each new step in my career, added these building blocks for my strong foundation. For the past eight years, I’ve worked in event design and since November 2020, have been a part of the wacky world of Haute.

But how I landed my current position? I was caught eating a breakfast burrito on video during a 2020 virtual conference (Age of Conversation).

My greatest career accomplishment:
Last year alone, I gratefully experienced two of my biggest career accomplishments to this day. I’m still moved by the memories.

First is being a speaker on [the topic of] engagement at the EventMB’s Event Innovation Lab during MPI’s Smart Monday. (And yes, I educated by engaging with the audience!)  Second is being invited the very next day to take over the IMEX Group Instagram account for 24 hours on the opening day of IMEX America’s 10-year anniversary event. To be offered two very elite platforms to share my voice among my peers was such an honor. I’m still in awe!

How I helped my organization during COVID:
As part of Haute’s strategy and design/events team, I locked arms with my fellow Hauties and planned for incredible client outcomes despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic. I helped my organization design one-of-a-kind virtual experiences that were unique, engaging, and delivered surprise and delight during some pretty grim times.

As part of my local Los Angeles events community, I’m finishing my 2021-2022 past presidency term on the board of directors with the ILEA (International Live Events Association) Los Angeles chapter. 2022 is my ten-year anniversary as a professional ILEA member, and it's a huge part of my network and how we are surviving the pandemic.

As part of the bigger, global events industry, I just committed another three years to serving on the board of directors for SEARCH Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps fellow event professionals in crisis.

The time I averted a complete event disaster:
I feel like this used to be my mindset in the earlier days of my career. As I gain more experience, more knowledge into our wacky world, there’ll be a version of “the end is near” and you’re in control of how to respond. I—we—will most likely make it through, usually stronger from it. So, there are a lot of fires to put out, and with each new challenge, I approach a potential complete event disaster by showing up with a positive mental attitude. We’ll always make it through.

My most memorable event experience in the past year:
“Your balls are delicious but too big…” In January, I attended a past president on the ILEA Board of Governors' wedding, and the owner of the company catering it bought out these heavenly passed apple cider donut holes covered in cinnamon sugar—that were four sizes too big. Because of the bond we share being on the SEARCH board together, I simply went up to him with the advice of, “Your balls are delicious but too big…”

Three days later, SEARCH hosted our Boston Charity Event and his company catered that event, as well. The waitstaff was passing out desserts and guess what: Those balls were still delicious and the perfect smaller size. I couldn’t stop laughing. How funny and precious is our industry to have opportunities like that for genuine connection—one delicious, ideally sized ball at a time.

Best advice I’ve ever received:
Tim Lam, executive director of The International School of Hospitality (TISOH), is a fellow industry friend and long-time professional mentor of mine. His words of wisdom on the importance of continuously building on the expansion of my network is advice I’ve always paid close attention to. I enjoy networking and connecting with fellow industry colleagues at every opportunity, and he reminded me to start local then have a bigger reach globally.

Making connections is everything in this industry, and I’ve developed a beautiful community that brings countless benefits to myself and others. I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked to make introductions—it’s one of the best parts of work.

Impressive stats I’m responsible for: 
Normally, I would insert some incredible stats for a good brag—yet the only number that comes to mind is one. I am part of a DNA of one with my Haute work-family, whose business stats I’m impressed by daily. I am my number-one cheerleader when good news and difficult challenges arise. I am one with who I am internally and the companies, organizations and volunteer positions I represent. I am one of many event professionals who’ve found their home in our industry. Having that sense of belonging cannot be any other number but one.

What’s next? 
Professionally, I’ll be continuing on the speaking circuit as much as possible to talk about the study Haute conducted in 2021 called Return on Emotion SM (ROE). It’s a scientific study that we’ve developed into a business metric showing the exact emotions necessary to drive a business pipeline in our industry.

Personally, my to-do list is ever-expanding with all parts of my life. I’m finally figuring out how to balance a quality life within and outside of my career—and that is my definition of success. I feel more whole with all my little pieces coming together.

What I do outside of work: 
I have what seems to be an endless list of boards and industry leadership roles I’m grateful to be a part of professionally. But my free time? That’s when you truly get to know me!

I make time to wake up extra early to peacefully listen to my audiobook and wash dishes at 6:00 a.m. I’m a sunset chaser (mostly every day) and reflect on the beach, a lot of times alone. I could be cruising by the Venice boardwalk on my rollerblades or honestly, binge-watching the current "must-watch" shows in my matching lounge set. And most important, the top of my to-do list every day is “just be.”

Dream vacation:
I plead the fifth—you’ll have to ask me directly in person at a networking event or virtually via social media. It’ll make for a better story, promise.

Favorite icebreaker line:
I’m a connector, so I have different questions that vary depending on the stranger. I’m curious to find out what we may or may not have in common, so I tend to ask for a deeper dive into a particular opinion or belief.

A question I love for strangers to answer is, “If you were to wake up and look in the mirror, every day for the rest of your life, and feel one emotion—how would you want to feel?” Most everyone has to stop to ponder, and it helps me understand their humanness. We at Haute believe that business is personal.

Connect with Diep on LinkedInInstagramFacebook and Twitter.

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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.