September 5, 2013 by Speakers' Spotlight
Spotlight On: Industry Professional, Veronica Love-Alexander
Before joining Dominion Lending Centres in 2010, Veronica Love-Alexander held positions in public relations, marketing, and event management in the real estate, professional sports, and charitable fundraising sectors. She also managed events, marketing, and public relations for many health charities. In her current role with DLC, Veronica develops and executes national conferences for brokers/owners, managers, agents, and assistants; works with celebrity spokespeople; oversees communications, social media, PR and media relations; hosts training on marketing and use of DLC tools; coaches franchise development; supports the cause- related side of the business; and manages all sponsorship and partnership programs. And, in addition to all of this, she is a valuable client of Speakers’ Spotlight. We’re thrilled to profile Veronica:
Why did you choose your career and how did you break into the industry or land your current job?
I went to school for public relations and had successful internships and then PR roles right out of school. I was determined to be in crisis communications for a large corporation but my first roles were all in the fundraising sector–specifically health charities. While on a contract with the NHL Awards, I worked out of the National Diabetes Association office as they were the recipient charity that year. I got hired on in the advertising department and, like other employees, I volunteered my time at many fundraising events. The director of events pulled me aside and said I was great for events. Although complimented, I was determined to only do PR and keep up with my writing. She moved on to Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and recruited me as an events coordinator promising me that I would also be able to write all promotions and press releases. I was sold and never looked back as one great event role lead me to another–from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, to Royal LePage Real Estate Services, to my current position at Dominion Lending Centres.
What is your best advice for other event planners, based on your career experience so far?
Put your all into every event you do and build relationships. Every company I have worked for someone was watching me in action and offered me a job as a result of what they saw or experienced when they attended an event I coordinated. This is a very small world regardless of what industry you work in. I am fortunate to have met many great people who once were attendees or sponsors at events and later opened up another great door for me.
What advice do you have for speakers?
Take time to speak with the planner, the president or staff members and/or an attendee. Really get to know each of their goals. My favourite speakers haven’t had an earth-shattering message but took the time to chat with me prior to the event, do their homework on the company and attendees, and then put those learnings into the presentation. Customization and personalization is everything. Be authentic and not canned. If I see you talk more than once and can guess your next joke–you have lost me and the attendees.
What themes do you see arising in your industry when you book speakers today? Innovation? The importance of social media?
Some topics never get old–especially if delivered in a timely fashion by an engaging speaker.
Some messages need to be reinforced time and time again but when the right person shares the message it just clicks and motivates attendees to take action. I have seen people change their entire business plan or focus in life as a result of a speaker who resonated with them.
Life balance, achieving more and still living life to its fullest, and anything with humour.
One of my favourite clips is of Louis CK on Conan in the clip, “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy,” People love this because it’s true, pokes fun at us as a society, but still motivates us to live with gratitude and change our mindset.
Speakers who have touched on topics like this with humour and help attendees see a new light hit a home run every time.
Do you have a favourite event that you can tell us about?
My favourite event to this day was an event in Palm Springs on the polo grounds. A private polo match where all attendees dressed in hats and gloves and were divided into two fan groups, a divot stomp with champagne followed by dinner and dancing under the stars on a perfect evening. Close behind faves-–an outdoor event at The Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda and a pirate themed party on the same island. I’m a big fan of events where the attendees dress up as they come out of their shells even more and remember it forever. I’ve been lucky to have willing participants which makes it all a success!
Did you ever have a crazy challenge come up while planning an event? What was it and how did you deal with it?
This is half the fun in event planner, isn’t it?! Challenges seem to pop up everywhere. Overcoming hurdles and making the experience a positive one is the reward at the end for sure.
Audio visual failures, fire alarms that just won’t end in the middle of a keynote, and attendees with health issues or who just have too much fun are all some of the things I’ve coped with, but Mother Nature has been my largest challenge–from a hurricane wiping out the host hotel and having to relocate an entire conference two weeks out, to rained-out venues, snowed in guests, and delayed flights. Weather is the one part of this job that I just sit with fingers crossed on. In those moments you remember that all that matters are people’s safety and move forward with plan B.
That said, some of my best events have been because the weather was perfect and the surrounding paradise-like.
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
There are many but a few that rise above and beyond for me personally are The Canadian Women’s Foundation and every local women’s shelter across this planet working on very limited resources to give women and children a fresh and safe start at life.
As well, Breakfast for Learning–I was a hungry child at school once and I am passionate about children having the best chance possible at a great education without the pain of hunger to distract them. I am shocked at how many children in Canada aren’t getting proper nutrition. For some children, the breakfast, snack or lunch provided through Breakfast for Learning at their school is the only food they take in each day.
Desert island album?
Any album of Sarah McLachlan’s.
Best subject in school?
History, English, and any class I was allowed to speak publicly in 🙂
Last book you read?
Scott Stratten’s The Book of Business Awesome. Currently I’m reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (I like to balance more than one book at a time).
Last film you saw?
Oblivion–on an airplane which seems to be the only time I get to see movies that aren’t meant for children. Prior to that–Despicable Me 2–which was a great movie!
Jon Bon Jovi when he was on Ally McBeal and Marky Mark, aka Mark Wahlberg, in the video Good Vibrations.
After one of your big events is done, what do you do? Celebrate in style? Take a break to relax? Go straight to the next project?
I would love to say I take a break but I truly believe the event isn’t over until the survey results are tabulated, the postmortem on the event is held and the hand written notes to all who contributed are out. The key to a great event is the follow-up. Then, if I don’t have another event overlapping, I make up for my crazy work hours with hubby-and-kid quality time.