IAEE recently interviewed Michelle Sanford, CEM, Director of Event Operations, with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) to learn more about her IAEE member experience. Michelle is part of a team that produces one of the largest trade shows in the world, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Michelle has been an IAEE member since 1994 and currently serves on the IAEE MATSO Council and IAEE CEM Commission. Michelle also served on the IAEE Education Committee in 2014 and 2015.
How did you get your start in the exhibitions industry?
I applied for an administrative assistant position with AEM 23 years ago. From there I worked my way up to a director level position in the Operations/Event Services department.
What advice would you give a new IAEE member or person joining the exhibitions community?
Get involved with communities like IAEE and MATSO right away. The networking and educational opportunities provided by these groups are invaluable in learning the necessary skills and knowledge within the industry.
What is the biggest challenge in running your show?
Making sure the show stays relevant and innovative from show to show. With 2.6 million net square feet of exhibits it can be difficult to add new areas or features to the overall footprint.
Tell us a fun fact or story that most people would not know about you.
I got engaged at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2005.
Any final thoughts on being an IAEE member?
When I started my career at AEM, IAEE was an instrumental part of my training and learning the exhibitions industry. Being in the industry for 23 years, I now enjoy the networking and idea sharing that goes on with my industry peers, most of whom I met through IAEE. With the depth and breadth of resources that IAEE continues to offer, I am always learning something new and IAEE always keeps me coming back for more.