Office HeroWe love getting the inside scoop. But what we love even more is shining the spotlight on the unsung heroes that work the magic behind the scenes. In this weekly series, we profile Office Managers and Executive Assistants who have a passion for rocking events the same way we do. What can I say, we like hanging with our kind.

Our hope is that over time, we will have honoured countless women, maybe even the odd man, as well as creating a space that encourages thought provoking conversation and maybe a few laughs too.

We’re proud to introduce this week’s office hero, Nicole Brand.

Position: Event Coordinator
Company: Traction on Demand

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from a small town in Alberta called Bonnyville. At a young age, I wanted to explore and after getting my Scuba Dive Instructor certification, I hit the road. Scuba Diving took me to Turks & Caicos and then on to San Salvador where I taught for Club Med. Club Med has such a great mix of cultures, you learn so much and have the opportunity to meet so many great individuals. After Club Med I took a trip to Montreal to visit a few friends I had met along the way and quickly fell in love with the city, it wasn’t long after that I decided to move there.

Once in Montreal I joined a really unique tech company called LightSpeed and spent close to three years with them. I started out in the company’s Sales team but it wasn’t long before I realized events was where I would do my best work. I coordinated a variety of events during my time there, each one different from the next. However as life would have it I found myself looking for a new challenge, and the idea of it bringing me a little closer to home didn’t sound so bad either. My search closed my circle of travel landing me back in Western Canada, working for Traction on Demand.

For two months now I’ve been with Traction as Event Coordinator. The culture is personable and electric. It pushes for excellence and accountability. What I love most is how they (we) value collaboration. In my short time with the company I’ve had the chance to both witness and be apart of teams that I wouldn’t normally be involved with in my role. It’s that insight and expertise that creates the incredible product and service that we do.

What’s one modern day convenience you can’t live without?
Having TV series in bulk. It’s both a blessing and a curse. BlackList is my go to at the moment. Highly recommended.

Once in the office, what’s a positive thing you do each morning to get your day started off right?
My day starts with building a list that is derived from my timelines and in turn leads to my calendar. Everything goes into my timelines, big or small. I split my day into two pieces. I use the am hours for my to-dos, and the pm hours for meetings and dealing with the things that come up throughout the day. For me it works really well. I try to allot a little extra time for each task so I don’t build an unrealistic list that sets me up for failure. For the most part, this system allows me to stay on top of everything.

What’s going on in your company right now that’s cool?
We’ve recently opened an office in Montreal that I’m really excited about. Montreal is still very close to my heart and it’s exciting to see Traction expanding there to support its growing East Coast clientele.

How many events, and what kind, are you asked to plan each year?
That’s a timely question! We just wrapped up our event overview for the upcoming year. We sit at roughly 20 events.

  • Right around the corner is our Christmas party.
  • Followed by our Anniversary party.
  • We hold Quarterly events to wrap up where we’re coming from and forging ahead.
  • Sponsorship events.
  • TractionForce is in the Spring
  • The Bandit Tour ends our summer,
  • And leads us into Dreamforce, a Salesforce conference that is held in San Francisco everywhere year.

If you could hire any famous band for your gala, who would it be?
Kings of Leon. I saw them live once and their music is so diverse, there’s something there for everyone. They’re very entertaining and know how to work an audience. It was an unforgettable experience.

If you could hire any speaker for your training session, who would it be?
It would definitely be Tarka L’Herpiniere. He’s an explorer, ultra endurance athlete, motivational speaker and film maker. If there’s anyone you want to hear say “Anything is possible if you try hard enough”, it’s him. He’s an extremely inspiring individual.

What is your biggest challenge when planning an event? And why?
I’m often given only high level thoughts/visions for the seed on which to build out an event. For me, the biggest challenge is ensuring that all the pieces of the event are executed in line with the vision the client has imagined. To put it another way, I have to be sure what their envisioning is what I’m envisioning. It’s their brand that the event is meant to amplify, and you want it to do just that.

How have you overcome that?
It really comes down to communication and keeping the event stakeholders 100% in the loop on progress and planning. When I say keeping them in the loop what I mean by that is have regular check-in meetings, discuss ideas and brainstorm when there are pain points. At times you have to be the voice of reason and set a realistic framework for the event, the worst thing you could do is promise a client the world and fall short of that promise.

What has been the coolest highlight in an event that you’ve planned or attended?
The coolest highlight of an event would have to be creating a Daft Punk entrance for a Sales kick off retreat. This involved a man in Mexico custom making the Thomas and Guy helmets, the gloves, and even a light that flashed “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” across the front of the Thomas helmet. It was a massive challenge to find and create something that would meet their expectations, but so worth it. The helmets now hang in their Sales room and the team throws them on when they make a big sale.

What’s the most important thing you’d share with others about planning an event?
Have overly ambitious deadlines. Nothing ever goes as planned and by living by these words, it allows for some flexibility internally without it affecting external suppliers. Anything can be done to a certain extent. The words “it can’t be done” are never 100% true. Use your resources, think outside the box, and be persistent. The best products come out of the conversations that start with “it can’t be done”.

Are you interested in joining our list of unsung heroes? Reach out to us on Eventsage and we’ll get in touch within 24 hours. Join the conversation. Join our community.

Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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