Jan 12, 2021
Today, we are extremely grateful to be speaking with Melanie Bradshaw, the Vice-President of Global Events for the direct sales company, SeneGence.
Melanie has a wealth of experience in meetings and events. Like most of us, she had to switch to virtual last year, and she learned a lot from doing that.
In this episode, she will be speaking to us mainly about two things. She will talk about her international experience working in more than twenty-five different countries, and she will also be sharing her virtual experience.
We gained a lot from our conversation with Melanie, and we are sure that you will too!
Melanie Bradshaw’s bio
Melanie Bradshaw has spent her entire professional career in event organization, production, and management. Working across a wide variety of industries and with extensive experience in both the association and the private sector, Melanie has led teams that have organized business events for up to +35,000 participants in over 25 countries. In her current role, and like many event organizers, she has used the challenges of 2020 to transform 12 of her company's biggest international live events to virtual, and she is thrilled to connect and share the learnings from her experiences.
Getting into the events industry
When attending university, Melanie was unsure about what her niche was going to be. After graduating, she took a job with the events team at the university. It was a fit for her. She quickly got locked into a role that she had not been trained for, but she knew that if she tried and stayed open to learning, she could figure it out. Melanie had a patient boss who was open to working with her, so she grew into the role with which she was titled.
That set her up for an era of partnership success and new experiences.
After leaving the university
After leaving the university, she joined the PennWell Corporation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was ripe with different companies and industries that did international events. She worked at the PennWell Corporation for five years, and that was a turning point for her. That was where all the different countries came into play for her because she got assigned to many industry events.
Opening her eyes to different cultures
She was working for an event company that had publications associated with different industries, so, as a centralized events service, they got passed around to various industry events. That continued to broaden her horizon. It opened her eyes to the difference in working in different cities, different countries, and different cultures.
A big lesson
What Melanie learned from her experience abroad was that she did not know everything and that it is okay to ask questions.
Aligning with other cultures
She learned that the quicker you align with and understand another culture and how other people do things, the quicker people will be open to whatever your expectations are.
The oil and gas industry
Melanie began working for a company in the oil and gas industry. Working in the oil and gas industry in areas of the world, like the Middle East and China, opened new doors for Melanie and opened her eyes to many different things and new ways to interact with people.
She gained respect for the local cultures and learned from them, and she found that having local resources was of great benefit to her.
Creating an engaging experience
The core of the events strategy at SeneGence is quarterly training conferences. Pre-Covid, those got run simultaneously in all the countries, with the same content and structure. Before Covid, however, they were not very open to virtual.
Now, they continue to do the same thing.
The direct selling industry
In the direct selling industry, you need to stay in front of your field and your distributors because things keep changing, and new products keep on getting launched.
People within the direct selling industry gain a lot from coming together and networking. Recreating that was a big challenge for Melanie.
The core of how Melanie was able to bring continued intensive engagement to the direct selling industry was to keep the schedule, the structure, the experience, the branding, and as many of the elements as possible consistently the same from live to virtual.
Creating longer breaks
They created an intentional stretch in their activity breaks to break up the resting time because it is more difficult to concentrate when you are at home.
Before the event
When they started, they did a 30-minute pre-event "hype it up party" the night before the event to test the technology and prepare all the participants for the virtual experience. They included activities for the kids of the participants to involve them in the virtual event.
Melanie Bradshaw’s production partner
Melanie Bradshaw still uses the same production partner that she used for the live events for the virtual events because they already speak the same language and understand what the expectations are. They worked together to find the virtual platform that was the best fit for them.
Attending some larger events
In the beginning, Melanie paid to attend some larger name virtual events to learn from them.
There is not just one registration choice, and people require different levels of engagement, so they created tiered registration packages for their events. They have been very creative with the packaging of what is included in each registration.
The convenience of virtual events
It has been so convenient for people not to pay for traveling that Melanie thinks that virtual events are probably here to stay forever.
What Melanie Bradshaw sees for the future
Melanie Bradshaw’s company has one more virtual event planned for January 2021, and then they plan to create hybrid events with low live numbers. They are also hoping to pick up their incentive trips again in June of 2021.
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