IAEE Awards Spotlight on Kristin Barranger, CEM: 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Kristin Barranger, CEM, Manager of Expositions and Communications at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has been an active member of IAEE since 2006, and has significantly contributed to both the national and chapter levels. She has been highly commended for serving in every officer’s position of her IAEE Southeastern Chapter as well as chairing the Chapter Sponsorship and Educational Conference committees. She has also served on the national level as an IAEE Board of Directors member and Chapter Leaders Council Chairperson. She organized and facilitated the Chapter Leaders Forum held at the Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting 2014 as well as the Chapter Leaders Retreat in 2015. It was during her time as chapter chair that Kristin began focusing on young professional engagement within the chapter, serving as the first Young Professional (YP) board member. She made it such a positive and active position, that the chapter decided to make it a permanent seat on its board. In addition, she led the charge in securing sponsorships to host “IAEE 20 Under 30” professionals at every chapter luncheon. During her tenure, attendance at the educational luncheons was robust and participant feedback on programming was at an all-time high.

She strengthened the chapter’s industry relations by partnering with the Georgia Chapter of MPI to participate in its inaugural conference in April 2014. In December 2014, the chapter partnered with the PCMA Southeastern Chapter to co-locate their respective annual holiday luncheons which resulted in over 150 attendees. She has also initiated various chapter philanthropic activities including the selection of the Special Olympics as the chapter charity for 2014. In addition, she spearheaded the chapter’s support for IAEE’s Exhibitions Day to secure a proclamation from the City of Atlanta declaring 9 June 2015 Exhibitions Day in Atlanta, for the first time in the chapter’s history.

During the course of her career Kristin has been a mentor and a colleague to many, always making a positive impact whenever and however possible. It is this impact that earned her the IAEE Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015, which recognizes an IAEE member who has dedicated his/her time to the progress and fulfilling the charge of a committee or task force on which he/she serves. Here, Kristin discusses her dedication to making a difference in the industry.

During your service to IAEE, you’ve initiated several programs focusing on attracting young professionals to the industry. What do you think is the greatest strength YPs have to offer and what can the industry learn from their perspective?

During my term as Chairperson for the IAEE Southeastern Chapter, I was a strong advocate for bringing a YP onto our Board team.  With the support of the Board, we brought a young, energetic professional to the table to assist with the initiative of bringing young people to our quarterly educational luncheons and our annual Classic.

The greatest strength of young professionals is newness. I am referring to the ability to bring a new and unique perspective to everything.  From changing the marketing, to reach those that engage in social media, to making digital media an integral part of marketing, to simply changing the way we present the Chapter and engage our members – these young professionals will be the leaders of tomorrow and it is our responsibility (those of us not considered young professionals anymore J) to allow them to fly, to help/encourage them to fly and the secure the net if they fall.  What we learn from them is that change is not always a bad thing and to change ‘what we have always done’ to ‘what can we now do?’.

You have also reached out to other exhibitions and events industry organizations to collaborate on several events with the IAEE Southeastern Chapter. Why do you feel it is important to strengthen industry relations and what is your approach to working with other groups?

Our Board discussed what partnerships we could nourish in our area, and we surveyed our members to learn with which industry organizations they also participate and/or are involved. After doing so, we reached out to several of those organizations seeking partnerships for activities and events. We were successful with co-locating our Holiday Party with PCMA and surpassing expectations on attendance. As several members are also PCMA members, the co-located event was perfect for networking and sharing our successes. It is important to strengthen our industry relations so that we can keep the lines of communication open as we continue to service our members.

The approach to working with other groups is simple. Reach out to their leadership and invite them to join our events as guests, then see if they would like to partner on educational opportunities and networking events. Keep asking and reaching out.

You are a strong supporter of IAEE Exhibitions Day and were instrumental in securing a proclamation from the City of Atlanta to declare 9 June 2015 as Exhibitions Day in Atlanta. What understanding did you want the local government to have about the exhibitions and events industry?

It was important for each chapter to reach out to local government to seek support for Exhibitions Day. For the City of Atlanta the key was to have them see the number of exhibitions and events in the city, and bring those to the top of their minds. When making decisions for the City, it is valuable for the officials to think about what makes Atlanta a popular destination for the events industry, which in turn provides jobs and brings in revenue.

You have been praised for your mentoring skills. What do you like to focus on as a mentor and what do you find most enjoyable about the mentoring process?

I have had the opportunity to serve as a mentor a few times and have found that the most enjoyable aspect of mentoring is watching the mentee get excited about their choices. I like focusing on prepping for interviews and having them think outside the box. It is not as important to graduate and enter right into the management position of their dreams.  Yes, that would be ideal, but I believe and help them to understand that sometimes it is better to work your way up.  Then, as a manager, you know all the parts of the job and can lead with confidence. I enjoy hearing back from them after they have accepted jobs and worked for a while – and they are still excited about the industry!

As an exhibitions and events professional who has earned the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation, what has been the most beneficial aspect of completing the program? What advice would you give someone starting on their CEM journey?

The most beneficial aspect of completing the program is the knowledge that you have tools for success.  So many times, I am in a situation where I refer back to my CEM books to my notes – often referencing someone else’s experience in the same situation and how they handled it and/or mentioned they would have done it differently “if”.  The brainstorming in the classes or online about real-life circumstances helps in discovering different approaches to resolving an issue, making something you are doing easier or just how to do something correctly.

I would tell the CEM student to ask questions, share experiences, make friends and turn off your phone/iPad, computer or other electronic distraction and just listen.

The 2016 Call for Nominations for the IAEE Awards is now open! Visit www.iaee.com/awards for more information about the various award categories and their corresponding criteria as well as submit your nominations for deserving colleagues whose outstanding efforts merit recognition.

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