Jessica Farmer, 27, works in Richmond, Virginia, as chapter and events manager at AA-ISP. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Farmer discusses her passion for the events industry.
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What I do: I am responsible for sourcing, contracting, planning and executing international conferences, executive retreats, national one-day educational conferences, and annual leadership summits with more than 1,000 attendees and more than 45 sponsors.
How I got here: Before completing my undergrad at Virginia Tech in 2014, I secured a full-time position as the first event concierge manager at Richmond Marriott Downtown and was tasked with creating a program and manual for future event concierge positions. Once that project was successfully completed, I was promoted to an executive meeting manager position, then promoted once more to a position as a business travel manager, all within one year of being hired at the organization. Equipped with my newly found knowledge and confidence, I decided to test the waters as a full-time event manager and was blessed to be chosen by AA-ISP for my current position.
Greatest career accomplishment: In October 2017, only two weeks prior to AA-ISP’s 2017 Fall Executive Retreat in California, the horrific wildfires in the California Napa Valley area engulfed our site location at The Silverado Resort & Spa. The AA-ISP’s entire upper management team were out of pocket. I spent 48 hours sourcing new properties that were within a two-hour radius of the original airport but were also not affected by the fires. I found one property that had our pattern/availability open. Two weeks later, I successfully pulled off a three-day executive event under budget and without complications.
Specific improvement I’ve made: Before arriving at the AA-ISP, all event management processes were handled by individual documents and excel grids that helped to track financials. I created a financial workbook outlined for every event that would help project what a meeting would cost, before contracting. This workbook helps to keep upper management informed when creating a budget plan for future years and keeps an accurate track of where savings can be adjusted.
What I am working on now: My husband and I are excited to announce that we are expecting our first child in August.