By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Sarah Bopp, Associate Manager Booth Sales & Operations for the American Pet Products Association (APPA) has risen through the ranks quickly by taking on every challenge presented to her. Even while juggling heavy work-loads, she aided in the development of a program to offer networking and educational opportunities to young professionals in the pet industry, and volunteered to serve as one of the founding members of a similar group for the IAEE New York Area Chapter. She participates in managing both groups in addition to her regular job responsibilities, is a regular attendee at NYIAEE chapter events and at Expo Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition, and is currently pursuing her CEM certification. This drive and dedication earned her the IAEE Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, which recognizes excellent professional performance by an individual with three or less years of full-time exhibitions and events industry experience. Here, Sarah discusses what it means to her to active in her chapter and how she plans to continue making a difference in the industry.
What attracted you to the exhibitions and events industry?
This industry is very intriguing to me because exhibitions and events allow people with common interests from all around the globe to connect in one place. Since joining the industry, I have discovered that there is a trade show for just about anything from pet products to stamps, helicopters and even amusement parks. The fascinating part is finding commonalities between trade shows for different sectors and I am eager to learn about them all.
From a show management standpoint, watching the magic of everything come together onsite –from move-in to the doors opening to the show – is pretty amazing. Beyond planning our trade show, I have also had the opportunity to travel to new cities through which I gain valuable knowledge with networking and education from each place I visit. Traveling inspires me and takes me out of my comfort zone, which is important in my professional development.
You received high praise for your creation of a young professional network at APPA. What is your approach in recruiting other YPs to the industry?
The APPA Young Professionals officially launched at Global Pet Expo this year and we have received great feedback thus far. We plan to grow a strong network of those already within the pet industry. Our key resource has been APPA members and industry professionals within our qualified attendee database. Understanding that there may only be one key contact receiving correspondence, we ask that the information is shared for recruitment of all young professionals within each respective company. The important message to be understood is that through investing in the young professionals and getting them involved now, we can create an environment which will encourage retention of future leaders.
The APPA Young Professionals’ aim is to make people feel as though they belong in the pet industry and have support while following their career paths. With this approach, we believe creating an attractive atmosphere for young professionals to thrive in will lead to new prospects eager to join the pet industry
You organized a food drive for the IAEE New York Area Chapter. Why do you think it is important for organizations such as IAEE to give back to the local community?
Working together to support a cause creates the feeling of importance; knowing that you are making an impact. In a world that isn’t so perfect, I like to think that the little wins through giving back locally are great accomplishments. Helping bring smiles to others’ faces makes it all worthwhile. I was born and raised a New Yorker so the local community holds a special place in my heart. With the help of professionals within the IAEE New York Area Chapter, we have a network of people who can come together and make a difference.
What are your favorite networking channels and for what reasons?
Ideally, I prefer to network in person. I enjoy having the chance for others to experience my full personality through meeting face-to-face. Our local chapter events and the IAEE industry events are a great way to meet and engage with others. Social media is useful for organizing or becoming involved in specific events, but it is not my preferred method of networking.
What motivates you to give your best to the industry? Do you have any specific goals you would like to achieve in the near future?
I am the type of person who commits myself wholeheartedly to my interests, which fortunately happens to include this industry. I want the future of the exhibitions and events industry to be bright so I am willing to be involved in the efforts to make sure the industry continues to thrive. Regarding specific goals in the near future, I would like to complete my CEM certification.
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.