What Was Your Big Break?

Event planners tell BizBash how they got started in the industry.

September 16, 2013, 7:45 AM EDT

Cornell F. Woodson (left), Roberta Boucher, and David Jacobson

Photos: Courtesy of Cornell F. Woodson and Roberta Boucher, Patrick Donahue (David Jacobson)

“In college, when I planned the annual fashion show. It was a dream: I had a full staff and large budget.”
Cornell F. Woodson, founder and event planner, Fuego Events, New York

“I had worked in media. Three of us lost jobs within six months, so we took our production knowledge and launched our own event business.”
Shaun Pierce, president, Pierce Events, Pittsburgh

“My first break came in a small office where everyone wore many hats and a board meeting needed to be planned. Guess who was sitting right outside the managing partner’s office door, was the closest target, and was asked to figure it out?”
Roberta Boucher, freelance event manager, San Francisco

“The Maxim magazine Super Bowl party. I constantly had to remind myself that this was my job.”
Tracy Kessler, president, TK New York

“My first real job was as an executive assistant. One day my boss told me he’d like to take all of his salespeople on a trip to Bermuda and asked me to ‘figure out the details.’ Somehow, I pulled off a successful three-day incentive trip. In the process, I launched the company’s incentive travel program and found my calling.”
Laura Perlman, freelance on-site meeting manager, Las Vegas

“In college I decided to promote a concert and brought in four acts. Afterward, the opening act asked me to be his manager. Throughout college, I planned several concerts and events, all the while managing a couple artists. I got a job at William Morris straight out of college, and now, instead of booking bands to play concerts, I book speakers and entertainers for corporate events.”
Brian Lord, senior vice president and director of sales, Premiere Speakers Bureau, Franklin, Tennessee

“No big breaks, but on the upside I have been invited to ­apply for every job I have had so far. The great thing about this industry is that there are few clear and direct paths and many, many options.”
Tahira Endean, director of team creative and production, Cantrav Services Inc., Vancouver

“I applied for a position working in conferences and events in college. Fell in love, changed my major, and have been here ever since.”
Timothy Berry, lead event and marketing coordinator, Ithaca College Office of Campus Center and Event Services, Ithaca, New York

“Full-on snuck into a presidential campaign event by pretending I worked there, and walked out with a full-time job. No joke!”
David Jacobson, founder, TrivWorks, New York

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