RISE: Paola Bowman, Meeting Industry Leadership

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RISE: Paola Bowman, Meeting Industry Leadership

By Michael Pinchera | Jun 13, 2023

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Meeting Industry Leadership: Paola Bowman, CMP, CMM (MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter), director of client services and events, Arlington (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau

RISE-Bowman 600As an experienced hospitality and event professional, Paula Bowman has worked in numerous positions, from front of the house to sales and services.

She was named one of Smart Meetings Magazine’s “100 Women Who Inspire Us” in 2018 and was recognized in the Connect Association “40 under 40” group in 2019. Most recently, she has been selected by ConventionSouth Magazine as a “Meeting Professional to Watch in 2023.”

Her involvement with MPI began with the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter, where she volunteered on the marketing committee and is currently on the board. She is also heavily involved in the Event Service Professionals Association, where she volunteers on the DEI task force. She has been a speaker at conferences and has contributed to industry publications with articles and has been instrumental in developing best practices, industry toolkits specific to event service professionals and training for event service professionals, including certification for this important role in the industry.

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

There have been several key aspects that have been integral to my success on my career journey.

  • Having caring mentors along the way. I firmly believe what Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” I’m thankful for those that have paved the way, thus it is my responsibility to continue to pull people up. 
  • Adaptability and flexibility. The event industry is constantly evolving and being able to adapt to changes and unexpected challenges is crucial. A successful meeting professional must be able to think on their feet and find creative solutions to problems as they arise.
  • Events require a lot of attention to detail, from the planning stages to execution. Paying close attention to even the smallest detail can make the difference between a successful event and one that falls short of expectations.
  • Finally, a passion for the meeting and event industry and a commitment to delivering high-quality experiences for clients and attendees is essential for success. A love for the work we do and a drive to continuously improve helps to keep me motivated and inspired in my career.

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

One of my dear friends and mentors is Colleen Rickenbacher, co-founder of the Global Protocol, Etiquette & Civility Academy. Our relationship is a testament to the lasting impressions we make in this industry. In fact, she taught me the value of that, as part of her training includes how to make first impressions lasting impressions. She has given me so many golden nuggets of advice, but I think one of the best ones applies to both my personal and professional life: Always choose kindness and treat others the way you want to be treated.

I would also tell others to be kind to themselves because self-care is not selfish. I once heard a keynote speaker say something that stuck with me: “There is a reason on a plane that we are told to put on our oxygen masks first before helping others. You can’t give from an empty cup.

What’s next for you in this industry—is there something significant that you’re looking forward to?

The beauty of our industry is that there is no shortage of opportunities. Locally, I’m excited about our destination’s growth in Arlington, Texas, and the array of new planners and meetings that it will bring to our team to work with, as we open the new Arlington Convention Center and hotel. It will provide a new network of planning opportunities and ideas for us to continue to contribute to our industry.

I’m inspired to see the work that MPI and our industry continues to champion with sustainability as well as conscious and inclusive meetings. I geek out at the way technology continues to advance rapidly, looking for ways to incorporate new tools and innovations into events—such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence—is fascinating to me. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, I love the way our industry expands our reach and impact on a global scale. This is one of the great traits of MPI connecting us to the world.

More personally, I’m also excited to continue my involvement with MPI. I’ll be joining the MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter board for a third term and looking forward to taking on a different role, from finance to marketing and communications now. I will also be seeking my Event Service Professional Certificate from ESPA, which is a program I’m proud to have helped launch. I’m a lifelong learner and continuing education is important for professional development. As such, I am looking to obtain my CDME from Destinations International in the not-too-distant future as well, so I can better serve my community and the industry.

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

It is hard to imagine myself outside of this industry after so many years enjoying what I do. I love connecting with people and helping them develop, create solutions, make memories, get better or grow. In that sense, I’ve been told that if I wasn’t in the meetings world, I would be a great nurse or child development specialist. I think it is because I enjoy taking care of others around me and I can remain calm in chaos. Nurturing and growing people, ideas and projects is refreshing to me. I truly find purpose in genuine care and passion in making connections.



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.