By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Jacqueline Russo, Vice President of Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., has been a dynamic leader within IAEE with more than 25 years of consistent service and heavy involvement across many capacities. She has served as a mentor to other women as they entered the industry, and is well known both nationally and internationally as an asset to the exhibitions and events community.
In 2016, she was recognized for her contributions to the advancement of women in the exhibitions and events industry as the recipient of IAEE’s Woman of Achievement Award. Here, Jackie shares with IAEE her perspective about what she has learned over the years, being actively involved in IAEE’s chapters and committees, and the rewarding experiences that come from getting to know your colleagues.
Awards presentation during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, CA. From left to right: Representing the IAEE Awards Committee, Randy Bauler, CEM; Jackie Russo; and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.
IAEE: How did you get your start in the exhibitions and events industry, and at what point did you realize you were “in it to stay”?
JACKIE: Like many in the exhibition industry, I fell into it by working for a company that was scheduled to be an exhibitor in Fire Asia, Singapore. A fire/safety show, it was my task to ensure all of our materials were sent to the show and would be on site and ready to use when our team arrived. I was terrified and called the official logistics company to assist with my transport and delivery. I spent countless hours working on the paperwork and even went to the logistics company’s office to check the goods. After the show was a success, logistics company offered me a job. My goal was to do international business and see the world. The exhibition industry offered me the chance to do both.
IAEE: How have you seen the role of women in the exhibitions and events industry evolve over the course of your career, and are there developments you would still like to see?
JACKIE: The most exciting growth has been women in management roles. We have many female business owners of all sized companies. Additionally, many traditionally male jobs are now also female roles. I would like to see more young women recruited to begin a career path within exhibition organizers and suppliers. If we codify the opportunity and provide a path, we will allow women to shine.
IAEE: You have been recognized as a generous mentor within the industry. What do you most enjoy about sharing your knowledge and experience with those new to the industry?
JACKIE: That is large question. I have open arms and open mouth to anyone who is interested to listen. It is not just young persons; but all career people need an ear and an unbiased opinion/advice regarding their careers. Hearing the facts and discussing strategy allows individuals to seek those roles or solve those problems which are most important to them. It also allows people to see opportunities they may not believe are available for them.
IAEE: You have served on various IAEE committees and task forces. Why is volunteerism important to you, and what tips do you have for those considering serving on a committee/task force?
JACKIE: Volunteering in IAEE has been the best decision of my career. We often discuss team in the description of our careers. There is no better team than a committee or task force whether on the local or national level of IAEE. The other volunteers are extremely professional and bring knowledge, points of view and a willing spirit to the group. It is possible to grow and individual and as a business person. My closest friends and even close competitors are all colleagues when we work together on a committee or task force. When choosing the type of volunteering, it is important to choose those opportunities about which you have an interest, expertise or concern. Even if you do not know anything about the topic, it is a way to learn and grow while contributing. Volunteering takes time. It is imperative that you do not make a commitment that you are unable to fulfill. The other members are counting on you and your help. Make a lifelong friend!
IAEE: From a woman’s point of view, what do you find most challenging about a career in the exhibitions and events industry? What do you find most rewarding? (whether from a woman’s view or overall)
JACKIE: My challenges have been less gender related and more career related. We all talk about balance. Balance is tough and sacrifices have to be made if the goal is to reach pre-chosen targets or titles. In this current environment “we have an app for that” means there is a lot more clerical work; we do our own proposals and presentations and travel and carry them in our bags and go through security and wait and wait. This is the tough part for all career persons.
Most rewarding, everything else. We have a sense of accomplishment daily. We work on high-performing teams that meet at 5 a.m. and leave each other at 10 p.m. mostly with a smile. I help non-U.S. individuals make their way through the U.S. system of exhibitions. We share a laugh even when we don’t speak the same language. It is human. I share a department with people who know the value of a good job and a strong employer. Friends.
IAEE: You have been a member of IAEE for more than 25 years. What is your favorite part of being an IAEE member and what advice would you give someone who has just joined the organization?
JACKIE: My favorite parts of IAEE are the members, the local chapters and the experiences. If you have an open mind, it is possible to take yourself and your career to the next level. Participation may take you out of your comfort zone. It took me out many times and this was just what I needed to grow. It is good to be uncomfortable with yourself sometimes. After all of the hand-wringing, you are stronger and ready to take on the next challenge.
IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Woman of Achievement Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!