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2022 Connect x BizBash 15 Over 50: David G. Breen

David G. Breen is the principal designer and founder of VDA Experiential Event Design Agency.

David G Breen Updated

David G. Breen is the principal designer and founder of VDA Experiential Event Design Agency. He's based in Somerville, Mass.

How I got here: 
I am a proud graduate of Emerson College with a degree in theater education with a design focus. I have been designing environments for the stage and the corporate world my entire adult life. I started my career teaching theater in both college and high school settings, while designing professional theater productions on the side.

The corporate world beckoned with the advent of what was then known as “industrial theater”—basically, stage productions fitted into corporate meetings. The travel, the budgets, and the realization that I loved creating dynamic environments in large-scale venues created the impetus to start a company focused on the corporate events arena. International dinosaur exhibits in Asia, and corporate incentive events in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and countless resorts across the country, paired with multi-city product showcase road shows throughout Europe, have made for an incredible journey.

What started as a personal passion has evolved into a well-regarded experiential design agency with designers, event managers, and production personnel and an amazing group of trusted partners and clients. 

Greatest career accomplishment:
This is sort of like asking which of your kids you like better. Each time a client says “wow," every time an employee says “thank you,” seeing the growth of a new designer as a result of thoughtful mentorship—those are the moments that shine. Successfully navigating the past few years and keeping my entire company whole, both financially and professionally, certainly ranks up there.

We have created multimillion-dollar experiences and supported countless benefits pro bono—and each has its own unique “greatest” element. Bringing a brand to life, creating authentic connections with attendees in unexpected ways, or seeing the amazing outcomes from harnessing the creative energy of collaborative partnerships are true, proud accomplishments. Meeting all those challenges with optimism, confidence, and reliance on our strong collaborative company culture leaves me with a sense of pride in what we have built.

A specific improvement I’ve made: 
Throughout my career, I have never lost touch with my love of teaching. Mentoring my employees and seeing them grow (and many times move on to other careers or opportunities) still brings me joy. The impact my mentorship has had on their lives as they explore other paths—I like to think that I had a hand in building their confidence and being part of the changes they create.

Speaking at industry events, being part of roundtable discussions, and sharing thoughts on the direction of events, combined with adapting my company’s business model to keep connected to current trends are all part of the responsibility I feel toward my peers, my partners, and my employees.

The biggest change I've observed in the industry:
The event industry has matured and expanded over the years such that the art of storytelling through experiences is now at the heart of everything we do. Attendee attention spans are down; we only get a few moments to capture their interest as everyone is overbooked and being pulled in myriad directions.

Driving the brand into the event, and creating seamlessly connected visuals that reinforce messaging through discovery, color, flow, and curated activations, is incredible. The challenge of finding and weaving the connective thread while creating those moments of surprise and delight is amazing. I love that I have been part of this maturation in our Industry and look forward to what we create next.

What I do outside of work: 
I sit on both the board of advisors and the alumni board of Emerson College (where I was once the chair), giving back my time to the school and the students and supporting the faculty in various endeavors. I am a committed lover of basketball, playing in a weekly game and serving on the board of my local community basketball association teaching and coaching.

I love to travel, having visited all 50 states and closing in on 20 countries. I am the father of two incredible boys (now young adults), which keeps me busy, and I strive to find the balance of being a good husband to my amazing career-driven wife.

My No. 1 piece of career advice I'd give my younger self:
Relax. Keep your eyes open to opportunities, knowing that a career is not a linear journey. Find a mentor, be curious, follow those paths that interest you, and love what you do. Trust yourself, and never be afraid of trusting others.

Connect with Breen on LinkedIn and Twitter


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Connect x BizBash 15 Over 50 is sponsored by Zoom Events, a comprehensive virtual event platform with the power to create hybrid and virtual event experiences attendees will love. Learn more at events.zoom.us.