Taking Control of Your Career

By Brad Gessner, CVE The public assembly venue management industry can be ultra-com-

petitive. In order to succeed and progress, you have to perform. Prior to joining AEG Facilities as the Senior Vice President for Convention Centers, I worked in the public sector. The City of San Antonio (Con- vention Facilities Department), the State of California (Del Mar Fair- grounds), and then the City of Scottsdale, Arizona (WestWorld). I also managed the San Diego Convention Center, a 501(c)(3), and can tell you from my various career experiences across the public and private sectors that your success in both the corporate world and public sector is more contin- gent on your ability to take the driver’s seat and steer your career where you want it to go. Here are a few suggestions on how you do that.

leadership. Gravitate to the leaders you meet within an organization rather than the organization itself.


exceed what’s expected of you and make yourself more promotable.”

Vet Companies and Organizations the Way They Vet Candidates Organizations go to great lengths to ensure they are hiring reliable, capable individuals. Candidates should vet employers with the same diligence. You would not purchase a home without conducting research into its history, status, amenities, and so on. Finding an employer is like  you need on a given organization in order to make an informed deci- sion. Talk to current employees you may have met at an IAVM event or other industry function. Read online reviews, both from customers and current employees. Contact people who conduct business with the facility and ask what their experiences have been. Ask people who used to work with the organization why they left. We live in the information age; take advantage of everything that’s out there for anyone to uncov- er. The public venue and hospitality industry is a relationship business,  employer.

Use Leadership as a Landmark A big brand name is indeed an attention grabber and source of pride, but itis an organization’s leadership that determines the health and happiness of its employees. The interview process is every bit as much an opportunity for you to gauge what you might be getting into as it is a tool for the employer to judge whom they are looking into. Great 

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Establish an Understanding Corporate America, perhaps more than the public sector, rewards achievers. In order to be an achiever, you have to have clear goals that  brought onboard an organization, sit with the person or people you will be reporting to and outline with them the objectives of your position. Set reason- able expectations, identify challenges, and create a timeline of smaller mile-

stones. It is not a bad idea to put everything in writing, and I do not mean that in a “cover yourself” way. It is more a matter of ensuring everyone is on the same page from day one.

Actively Manage Your Role Whether you are going to work for an arena, stadium, theater, or con- vention center, they all have thousands of internal and external tasks being completed every single day, from the minutia of operations to the high stakes of strategic planning. In my experience, no one is going to micromanage you, and that’s a good thing. I have found that in    -  what’s expected of you and make yourself more promotable.

Challenge Yourself With all of the above as stepping-stones, the pedestal of professional development is an unrelenting willingness to challenge yourself, take calculated risks, and always be learning. These suggestions apply to the public sector as well, but in my own experience the private sector may demand more of this in order for you to succeed. I have been extreme- ly fortunate to have worked with and for many great organizations and leaders in my 40-year career, but I had to incorporate all of the above to advance and succeed. Remember - Good Fortune Favors the Well Prepared! FM

Brad Gessner, CVE, is Senior Vice President, General Manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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