2021 IAEE Distinguished Service Award Winner
By Mary Tucker, IAEE Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Juan Gabriel Tamez, CVE, CEM is Managing Director for Expo Guadalajara. He has more than 27 years of experience in the venues and meetings industry collaborating in the development of destinations and supporting organizers, exhibitors and attendees, focusing mainly on the venues for events. He has also been involved in the sales, operations, marketing, F&B, customer service and management of public and private venues, mostly convention centers and auditoriums. He has launched venues in large cities, beach towns and cultural destinations, and has advised on construction projects in Mexico and Latin America.
Juan Gabriel’s dedication to IAEE’s CEM Learning Program have made him a driving force behind establishing the program’s presence in Mexico, thereby significantly helping to expand IAEE’s global reach. He has served as a key advocate not only with the CEM program, but with other IAEE education efforts in the region. Juan Gabriel has also served as past-chair for the AMEREF and its educational programs as CVP working together with IAVM, serves as a mentor to industry CEM and CVP professionals in that region, hosted the IAEE Board in Guadalajara, and is one of the reasons IAEE has such a successful track record in Mexico. Juan Gabriel’s contributions in elevating IAEE’s global stature, along with his other contributions to IAEE and the overall industry earned him the IAEE Distinguished Service Award last year, for which he was recognized this past December during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Philadelphia, PA (watch Juan Gabriel’s acceptance speech here).
IAEE President & CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA (left) presents the Distinguished Service Award to Juan Gabriel Tamez, CVE, CEM (right) during Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2021 in Philadelphia, PA.
Here, Juan Gabriel shares with IAEE his views on what he enjoys most about the industry, why chapter leadership is important, and the impact mentorship and being a part of the CEM Faculty has made on his personal and professional outlooks.
IAEE: Your career spans nearly 30 years in the industry, yet your bachelor’s and master’s degrees are actually in the field of engineering. What attracted you to exhibitions and events, and what appeals to you the most about it? Also, how do you find yourself applying your engineering knowledge to what you do in the trade show industry?
Juan Gabriel: I could say that I started my profession in the events and venues industry by coincidence. Back in 1993, I worked for a company in the manufacturer sector, General Electric. One day, I went to see the Pan American Racecars which were just arriving in Monterrey. I had just graduated as a Mechanical Electrical Engineer and I was single, so it was normal to go watch race cars and pretty women. This event took place at the Fundidora Park behind to Cintermex Convention Center. I knew nothing about this place, and I decided to get to know it a little bit better. I found out that there were multiple permanent offices of some corporate companies in Monterrey within the venue, so I decided to hand out my resumé, hoping to find a better professional option (and I did!!!). Some days later, they invited me to work at the venue as Customer Service Coordinator and that’s how I got started in the venue and events industry around the trade and consumer shows and conventions. Every day in each venue and events, there are technical situations with the organizers and exhibitors that we must solve with the philosophy and attitude of “tell you how yes” and my professional training as an engineer allows me to be creative and innovative to solve all kinds of problems.
IAEE: You are very involved on the local level of IAEE, including serving on the Mexico Chapter’s Board of Directors. Why do you feel participating in one’s local chapter is beneficial, and what would you tell someone interested in taking a leadership role within the chapter?
Juan Gabriel: In addition to the experience we gain from client floor events, our professional expertise is greatly complemented by face-to-face relationships with our trade show industry colleagues at different events. Being part of a great partnership, such as with IAEE, allows you this type of linkage and networking. The best way to be grateful to life is to share what we have learned in our community of fairs, exhibitions and events over the years and that distinguishes great leaders, who contribute their great knowledge and experience for the benefit of others.
IAEE: You are also passionate about continuing education and have been an avid supporter of the CEM Learning Program in Mexico. Why do you feel it is important to offer the program in Mexico and how has it impacted the industry in that region?
Juan Gabriel: Continuing education is the best way and path to maintain and update our knowledge as adults. Although field experience is very valuable, being able to take classes on new knowledge and learning makes you a prepared and updated professional. Even if you are the highest manager or mid-level employee, obtaining a certification makes you be consistent with what you say you do versus what you show you know. It is very common to see and meet colleagues who, being the senior managers of a company, mean everything they know it but it is not always like that and you should lead by example as part of your role as employee and leader. By having more certified people in our fairs and exhibitions activity, it distinguishes and guarantees that we can speak the same professional and technical language with our clients in general, generating confidence to make better events and big businesses.
IAEE: As a CEM Faculty member, you adapted your teaching methods to the digital environment as required by the pandemic. How did this shift affect your approach to facilitating the classes, and what is the most valuable lesson you took away from the experience? Did this experience inspire you to change or develop anything about your overall teaching style that you may not have otherwise?
Juan Gabriel: The pandemic provoked, accelerated and perfected our ways of communicating through technology and digitization. From my point of view, virtual classes were, and continue to be, a great option for teaching our exhibition activity and events, having some challenges for it. Without a doubt, each faculty of the CEM program faced these changes and my way of adapting the teaching method was to make it more graphic. That is, to include more videos, more photos and images, and less text, as well as force group dynamics and reduce class time by including more breaks in a teaching day.
IAEE: Your nomination commended your dedication to inspiring and mentoring future generations of the industry. What role has mentorship played in your career and why do you feel it is important to pay it forward?
Juan Gabriel: Throughout my years of professional life, I was fortunate to have some coaches who encouraged me to be a great professional in what I do for venues and events, among them Jesús Franco, Bob Dallmeyer, Al Lomas and Paty Farias, from whom I learned multiple technical knowledge and great leadership skills. As I already mentioned, the best way to be grateful to life in every way is to teach other colleagues what we know. Helping our colleagues in telling them how to increase their knowledge and skills through mentoring and coaching is working to improve our industry of exhibitions and events, and in the long term it becomes a virtuous circle of continuous improvement in which we all win.
The Call for Nominations for this year’s IAEE Awards is now open! Check out all of the award categories here and be sure to submit your nominations by 31 August!