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Planning Where It Counts

As the supervisor of corporate meeting planning and national events of one of the top financial firms in the country, Teresa L. Farmer plans more than 70 corporate functions each year.

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As the supervisor of corporate meeting planning and national events of one of the top financial firms in the country, Teresa L. Farmer plans more than 70 corporate functions each year.

Staff: Seven professional meeting planners
Career Path: With more than 10 years of experience in the meeting planning industry, Farmer is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a Business Degree in Hotel Administration. She began her career in 1996 as a sales manager for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. In 1998, she went to the corporate side as a meeting planner at Tech Data Corporation for four years.
Biggest Job Challenge: Striving to keep each and every meeting fresh and innovative for attendees, regardless of whether this is their first meeting or their 20th consecutive meeting.
Favorite Type of Food to Have at an Event: Varies with the destination. "Typically, I like for the attendees to experience the finest of the local cuisine."

What does your position entail at Raymond James Financial?

"I am the team leader of seven meeting planners for full logistical planning of more than 70 annual corporate business meetings/conferences (both domestic and international) that range in size from 20 to 1,500 attendees." Farmer partners with clients to meet their business objectives and deliver high-quality meetings on a consistent basis. She also manages the department budget, leads the strategic direction of the corporate meetings department, and oversees compliance with the corporate ethics and travel/reimbursement policies and firm-wide procedures. Farmer joined Raymond James more than four years ago as a senior planner and was recently promoted to supervisor of the corporate meeting planning department.

What are the types of meetings you organize for Raymond James?

"All the corporate meetings plus trainings, annual meetings, regional meetings, client meetings, incentives, and special events. I also plan the Raymond James & Associates Chairman's (RJ&A) Council Incentive program (our most prestigious event where the top financial advisors go for a week-long trip to a destination that alternates between the Americas and Europe each year)." The company has three major themed programs for its highest-level financial advisors. The attendee numbers range from 150 to 1,500 for the themed programs.

Where do you draw your inspiration and ideas?

"I constantly seek out fresh ideas that ignite my creative thinking. My favorite resources include unique websites and professional/hospitality trade publications from which I clip articles or print new and cutting edge ideas to show clients that can be enhanced or tailored to meet their expectations."

How do you choose vendors for an event? Do you tend to use the same companies for many events or ask for proposals, etc.?

"Raymond James's associates are expected to fully leverage client budget spend for meetings. We use an RFP (request for proposal) process with a minimum of three vendor bids in order to identify the most competitive pricing for the best service. Raymond James contracts with preferred vendors to maximize savings."

When planning a meeting, what do you consider to be the most important factors, for example, great cuisine and cocktails, entertainment, or recognized speaker?

"With a diversity of meeting types, the factors vary. For incentive programs, it's the 'wow' factor; for a training session, logistical arrangements that support the facilitators' learning sessions is most important, while a location that provides accessibility to all attendees is what counts at our regional planning meetings. Once these specifications are established, it's our responsibility to customize the logistics."

What has been the most favorite meeting/event you've planned for Raymond James?

"The gala evening of the RJ&A Chairman's Council 2006 program held this year in June at Prague, Czech Republic, and Vienna, Austria, was the finale for a highly successful incentive program. The evening began with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Vienna to the Hofburg Imperial Palace. The attendees were greeted like royalty by a footman who escorted them into the Grand Hall for a reception. (President Bush and other international leaders met at this location two days earlier.) After dinner was announced and guests were seated, there was a private performance by the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir. During dinner, the attendees were serenaded by a Viennese orchestra. The attendees later said that the entire experience was one of the top trips of their professional careers."

Vanessa Goyanes
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