RISE: Caroline Cole, Young Professional Achievement

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RISE: Caroline Cole, Young Professional Achievement

By Michael Pinchera | Jun 13, 2023

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Young Professional Achievement: Caroline Cole (MPI Tennessee Chapter), account coordinator, MAS

Caroline Cole graduated with a degree from Belmont University in creative and entertainment industries and marketing, plus a certification in event planning. As a student, she held internships in various aspects of the industry and has taken on volunteer roles in event management at high-profile events including the ACMs, the Billboard Touring Conference and the Grammys.

Since graduating, she has continued to foster professionalism and career growth in the events community. She has contributed articles to Belmont’s newspaper about involvement with MPI and has spoken on the opportunities that student members can achieve from their participation with MPI. In turn, she has facilitated colleagues and industry professionals visiting Belmont to speak on career paths in meetings and events.

At the MPI Tennessee Chapter, she has volunteered on multiple committees, including her chapter’s mentorship program. Last year, she served as the chapter’s director of communications where she oversaw increases in social media engagement, including the creation of the chapter’s TikTok account. Through MPI Global, she has participated in the Future Leaders Forum, where she was named an IMEX-MPI-MCI International University Challenge Finalist; she went on to serve as a judge for this competition.

She also volunteers on the international level on MPI’s Emerging Professionals Advisory Council. Last year, she and the committee helped create the “EPAC’s Declassified WEC Survival Guide” to encourage young professionals to attend the World Education Congress and have their own best-possible experience.

How did you succeed on your career journey—what are some aspects that have been integral to your success?

A huge driver of my success has been the industry veterans, co-workers and MPI members who have set aside the time to pour into and mentor me as I entered the industry. I am endlessly grateful for Courtney McGee and Shannon Jones, two of the MPI Tennessee Chapter’s finest who took me under their wing when I joined our chapter as a student member. They went out of their way to not only walk me through the benefits of MPI, but also continue to provide endless growth opportunities for me in our chapter and within the industry. Additionally, I feel incredibly fortunate that my boss, Nikki O’Brien, has been a champion of strong female leadership in the industry and one of my biggest cheerleaders. Also, my co-worker Paulina Piekarska-Leveillee has had unending faith in me and continues to take time out of her own busy schedule to allow me to shadow her and learn from her. 

A commonality among these mentors of mine is that they have encouraged me to be innovative in my thinking and unafraid to use my voice. As a young professional, it can be intimidating to enter an industry full of such talent and tenure. To have people listen to and trust what I brought to the table has been incredible in growing my confidence as an event and marketing professional. 

The commitment that those across the industry have made to me has been inspiring to say the least, and I am determined to do the same for other emerging professionals.

The passion I have for events and marketing has also been pivotal in my success as I have sought out different ways to get involved with and learn from those in the industry. I feel so fortunate to do work that brings me so much joy. I could not be more excited to continue to be among those pushing the boundaries of the industry to create unforgettable experiences.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Surround yourself with people who want to see you grow. In any industry, it is easy to fall into a pattern of competition as opposed to camaraderie. When we recognize that there is space for everyone at the table, we are able to grow and learn from one another. I am grateful for those I have met along my career journey who I have and will continue to learn so much from. When collaborating with others in the industry I feel inspired and invigorated about all that is to come.

I have been fortunate to have so many people cheering me on throughout my professional career. They have encouraged me to take risks, ask questions, and ultimately have all taught me something different along the way that I carry with me throughout my endeavors.

What’s one piece of career or meeting/event industry advice would you like to share with your professional peers? 

Focus on the “why.” While simple, I have learned that taking a step back and focusing on the why is a great way to refocus and be impactful. With events, it is easy to immediately jump into nitty-gritty details and how to make the event happen, however, keeping the why in mind ensures that the audience and their needs are at the heart of what you are creating. Additionally, looking at why something is the way it is opens the opportunity to question and innovate processes and procedures that may be happening purely out of habit and tradition. As we have seen recently, the industry is rapidly changing and to be successful we must change and adapt to it. Continuing to ask why and focusing on the strategy behind what we are building makes not only unforgettable but successful experiences.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a meeting professional? 

My passion for the arts is what originally drove me to the event industry. I would have loved to work toward bringing arts to underprivileged communities and finding ways to improve arts education in and outside of schools. Creating or working for a performing arts center for children in their local community is what I think I would be doing or trying to do had I not pursued a career in the event industry.



Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera, MPI's managing editor, is an award-winning writer and editor as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997.