Our Office Hero series shines a spotlight on the unsung hero of the office. You know who they are. They work their magic behind-the-scenes, making it all come together without a hitch, and selflessly enjoy enriching other people’s lives. They are Administrative Professionals, Office Managers, HR Coordinators, Small Business Owners and the like. They plan countless events in a year while juggling the demands of a jam-packed to-do list. They have a passion for rocking events the same way we do, and we enjoy hanging with our kind.
Our hope is that over time, we will have honoured countless women and men while creating a space for thought provoking conversation, event stories, best practices and maybe even a few laughs.
We’re proud to introduce this month’s Office Hero, Cyndi Anderson.
Name: Cyndi Anderson
Position: Executive Manager to founding member of Canfor
Tell us a little about yourself?
The majority of my work life I was a single mom raising two boys. My career has always been in an office setting so I would have evenings and weekends free to spend with my boys. Over the years, I’ve worked for two major breweries (Molson and Labatt) and in the early 90’s, managed the Plaza of Nations. This was a demanding 7 day a week events-related position, needing evenings and weekends. I went back to the office and took a position with a lumber company, and subsequently my current boss stole me away from there to work for him. It has been the best move I’ve made throughout my career, and it was great to move from managing 70 people to managing one. Managing and organizing is my forte, and of course that is a great advantage in the job that I hold now.
I live and work in downtown Vancouver and I’m not planning on leaving until I’m no longer working – which probably won’t be for a while. Even with retirement time looming in the not-too-far-off distance, I have no intention to retire until there is no longer a job that I enjoy. I’m really very fortunate to be where I am now.
What’s one modern day convenience you can’t live without?
Most people would probably say a cell phone…but for me it’s definitely my Smartphone. I really do need the Smartphone component and I couldn’t live without it. It helps me to communicate with family, friends and businesses all over the world. I don’t even have a landline anymore! I could live without a lot of conveniences… but not that one!
Once in the office, what’s a positive thing you do each morning to get your day started off right?
From Monday to Friday, I don’t drink coffee at home, I wait to drink my first cup of coffee at the office – this is my time to reflect and regroup for the day. Coffee never tasted so good!
What’s going on in your company right now that’s cool?
Something that I find cool at Canfor is the company’s initiative to attract young people to the forestry sector. Some of the ad campaigns are geared towards young people, and are really quite engaging.
Nowadays, there are a lot more young people at universities who are starting to inquire about other career opportunities and Canfor is offering the forest sector as an option. There has been tremendous interest from the Canfor Job Fairs, universities visits and trade shows – a career in the forestry industry is not necessarily one that “jumps out” at individuals at universities.
Canfor gives extremely heavily into the community where they have production.
Let’s talk about events and get your Sage Advice…
How many events, and what kind, are you asked to plan each year?
Before becoming an Executive Manager, I managed an average of 2-3 major events per year for the companies I worked for. This required superior organization, given that I had to balance it with my other role responsibilities as well.
If you could hire any famous band for your gala, who would it be?
This is a really out-there wish … my favourite is Lenny Kravitz, I would definitely hire him for an event!
If you could hire any speaker for your training session, who would it be?
I’m going to go with Caitlyn Jenner right now. From what I’ve listened to and watched, she’s a very inspirational speaker, and I’m very supportive of her.
What is your biggest challenge when planning an event? And why?
I always say that when you’re planning something like this, location is the most important aspect, alongside food and music. Those are the three things that you must have absolutely bang-on to host a great event!
How have you overcome this challenge?
Use a good “measuring stick” – don’t be afraid to use what has worked in the past. Like I said, if even one of the three major components is wrong – if the venue is perfect, the food is perfect but the music isn’t up to par – your event will struggle, and people will only remember that aspect of the event. Those three aspects are by far the most important…you can pretty much patch-up and Band-Aid all of the other stuff.
What has been the coolest highlight in an event that you’ve planned or attended?
I would have to say the time Bill Clinton came to the Plaza of Nations when I was managing it. I couldn’t believe the extent of the security… they came six months out, one month out, one week out, and then every day until he arrived for the short lunch and boat ride. I was amazed at how involved it was!
Another would be from the Variety Golden Heart Gala. Carol Channing is a good friend of the Bentley’s, the founding family of Canfor, and Peter Bentley, the former Chairman and CEO was being honoured with the Golden Heart Award at the Gala. Carol flew up to perform at the event and she sang “Hello Peter” instead of her famous rendition of “Hello Dolly”.
What’s the most important thing you’d share with others about planning an event?
Going back to the three critical components (venue, food and music), the most important thing is to nail those before anything else. Have the vendors show you exactly what you’re getting, with tastings, site tours… make sure they can provide the things that you are asking for. It’s incredible what you can save if you resource things out yourself!
Is there anything else you want to add?
I think Eventsage is an amazing tool for people to use, and one that they will probably keep using forever!