Honorary Achievment Chapter Award



Jen Dowd, CMP, HMCC – My Race to ACE

Jen Dowd - My Race to ACE

By: MPI Northern California Chapter | Apr 7, 2022

Fellow MPINCC Member and Key Note Committee Member, Jennifer Dowd, CMP, HMCC, Senior Manager, Meetings & Conventions with BioMarin, shares her experience on ACE 2022.

MPINCC really hit it out of the park with this year’s Annual Conference and Expo (pun absolutely intended).  I know they didn’t coordinate the weather, but we sure got lucky with a beautiful spring day with not even a glimpse of Karl – such a great way to experience our first “outdoor” ACE.

Things started off strong with the Pre-Game Warm-Up.  Jody Brandes (Genentech) and I (BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.) led an early morning session on “Sustainability: How to Get Started For Free.”  We’re grateful to everyone who braved the early morning to join us for a rousing game of “Jeoparty.”  

The key take aways from this session were:

  • It’s okay to start small. You can do just ONE THING that aligns with your company’s mission or values and then build on from there over time.

  • Work with your partners to come up with a sustainability plan that works – they almost certainly have great recommendations for you specific to their location

Next up I wanted to know how to “Create that WOW! Experience for Every Event.”  Debbie Brewer (Salesforce) said something that really resonated with me as we return to live events: “Give your agenda room to breathe to make meaningful connections.”  Reminding people of the magic that happens during the unscripted moments between sessions, and letting them catch up after two years apart is an incredibly valuable part of getting together.  Longer breaks and less structured social activities are a great way to accomplish that.

Jeff Eisenhart (Area 15) shared how perfect a unique venue is for creating a memorable event – he pointed to the field maintenance going on behind the panelists as they spoke, and acknowledged that this particular ACE will likely be more memorable for the behind the scenes glimpse we were getting of life at Oracle Park leading up to Opening Day.

Joe Schwinger (MeetingPlay) reminded us of the importance of being forward thinking and taking younger generations into account – the way they want to experience an event is likely very different from the tried and true we might be used to.

After a quick stroll around the park for some popcorn (thanks San Mateo County/Silicon Valley CVB!) and puppy cuddling (thanks MGM!), it was back to the first base line for “Don’t Call Me a Second Tier City.”

Lance Wheeler (San Antonio) championed making a smaller city your own – checking out local favorites like The Pearl neighborhood along the River Walk is a great way to get that local vibe that can be hard to find in a big metropolis.

Mark White (Salt Lake City) encouraged diving a bit deeper on your RFP – the basic specs are necessary of course, but sharing a little bit about your group, and what you’re hoping to accomplish or the vibe you’re looking for is a great way to let a destination help you create something magical.

Teresa Savage (Monterey) pointed out the year round accessibility and mild weather as a great draw to California’s Central Coast.  The region’s strong sustainability ties and unique equestrian team building opportunity at Carmel Valley Ranch are just icing on the cake.
Colleen Pace (Palm Springs) pointed to their new alignment with Southwest which makes getting in and out of this desert oasis easier and more affordable than ever before.

The seventh inning stretch of lunch (thanks Austin!) and time to connect with exhibitors along the upper concourse was a great return to life as we knew it pre-pandemic.  I haven’t seen so many new (and familiar) faces all in one day in over two years!

We concluded the program by learning how to “Make Shift Happen: How to Up Your Game & Elevate Your Success in Life” with Anthony Truck.  It was great to have such a personable speaker to remind us of the value that we bring to the events industry through our hard work.  He said to “identify as the effort, not the outcome” - an excellent reminder that the journey is just as important as the destination.  Toward the end of his guidance on how to Make Shift Happen he asked us, “Do you want to be the one listening to the story, or the one telling it?”  The events we create together make for some really amazing stories – how lucky are we to be able to share them?



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