Building an Event Team with Even Higher Standards than Ours
Building an Event Team with Even Higher Standards than Ours
Before Kennedy Events was the 10 person strong (and counting!) team it is today, our name was a much more literal description of our team: founder Maggie Kennedy was doing all the things for all the clients. With her high standards, it just became too much to sustain long term.
So while Maggie continued to produce the high-level events she became known for, she scouted talent around every corner. Her very first hire? Paige Buck, now her partner at Kennedy Events. Paige is the yin to Maggie’s yang, and has been instrumental to KE’s growth. Clearly Maggie had an eye for talent from the start!
Hiring just the right people has been the not-so-hidden secret to our success. The KE partners hand selected, vetted, and trained each hire to ensure that clients only get the absolute best. They know that a live event is a one-take opportunity and having the right people orchestrating the logistics is essential.
Today we’re pulling back the curtain and sharing our “Ocean’s 11” style method for hiring the best in the business. (Hint: it’s all about hiring people smarter than we are.)
How We Find our Team Members
Here’s the thing about finding great event planners: they often show up in unexpected places. So, when Maggie decided to grow her team, she scouted “Ocean’s 11” style; looking for experts with niche, valuable skill sets that could translate to corporate event production.
Here’s just a sampling of our team’s background:
Paige was a theatre major.
Robin is a recovering attorney.
Marianne is often traveling the world.
Malia worked in some of the finest hotels on both coasts.
Jonny is a graduate from culinary school.
On the surface this seems like a disparate group of experiences and skills. When you look just a little deeper, you’ll find a team that knows how to thrive in chaos, see around corners, fill in gaps wherever necessary, and handle the ultimate in unexpected. These are all critical, yet unteachable, skills for a successful event planner. This method of scouting and recruiting the maybe less-than-obvious candidates has yielded even better results than we could imagine:
Marianne knows the crowd-pleasing wine that pairs well with a $1,000/plate dinner.
Paige can flawlessly fill in as emcee at the last minute.
Robin arrives 30 minutes early (no matter the call time) with coffee for the group in hand.
Jess knows how to wield a spreadsheet with seemingly endless speakers and sponsors.
Shelly knows the best hidden gems around San Francisco, her hometown, giving clients a leg up on the most important decision they’ll make.
Once we’ve found people with that certain je ne sais quois, we onboard them with a process as detailed as the services we provide.
Our Vetting AND Training Process
At Kennedy Events, our motto is “trust, but verify.” That means new team members, even ones we already know well, go through a thorough vetting process before being launched into the field. Project managers started out doing simple registration desk work. Everyone on the team began with small projects, then were assigned more and more tasks as they proved themselves to be strong assets. We give written and live-skills tests to potential and new hires. By the time someone on our team has a significant role with a client, we know that we could trust them to run the whole thing—and sometimes they do.
The event planner touch isn’t something that can be taught, so we pick people with the inherent skills to do the job well. What we do teach are our processes and systems. The first months of on-boarding a new team member involves teaching them about our tried-and-true methods of communicating with clients and all the steps we take to eliminate chaos and confusion for our clients. We cover our curated list of tech tools to use with clients, efficient meeting protocol, best practices for day-of timelines, and so much more. We then take intentional steps throughout the year to attend industry events and share our expertise with each other.
We’re not just picky about our team…
We’re equally discerning about our clients. Entering into a contract with a new client is like going on a first date, then deciding to move in together by the time the kick-off meeting starts. We like to make sure that we’re marrying the right kind of client. One that will have the perfect combination of chemistry and resources so that we can make them successful with their event.
The right kind of chemistry is our number one priority. Event planning requires spending a lot of time together, and we’re thankful to say that we remain friends with many clients long after the event is over. Our first core value is mutual respect, so that element is the first critical piece we look for when picking clients.
Beyond that, we like a client who knows what details are essential to stew on, and what details should be left to the KE team. Some shouldn’t require elongated group decisions, like choosing just the right chair for dinner, while others details should require robust attention, like keeping speakers and sponsors happy. We appreciate clients who know the difference between the two. We look for someone who has authority to make decisions, yet knows when to trust our judgement on the small things so that, collectively, we can focus on what’s truly going to move the needle on your most important metrics.
It’s critical for our work that clients know their business goals, culture, and ideal clientele. If you don’t readily know (and agree internally) on these things, then maybe you’re not ready to host an event. If you know your company goals, like to trust the experts, and want to have a successful, ROI-heavy event, we’d love to hear from you.
Our Hiring Method has Paid Off
At Kennedy Events, things look quite different than they did when we were just getting started back in 2000. Long gone are the days of one person staying up all night answering emails, only to have a call at 6:30 a.m. for equipment load in. These days, the boss can go on vacation to the East Coast while the team effortlessly handles an event on the West Coast.
The searching, vetting, and training that the Kennedy Events principles have done over the years has yielded a team that’s tight-knit, friendly, and talented enough for any kind of heist Danny Ocean could imagine.
Are we the ones for you?
Now that we’ve talked about our hiring process, we’d love to know what you look for when hiring the expert. To do some vetting of your own, send us a note.
Paige Buck is the co-owner of Kennedy Events is a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.
About Kennedy Events
Kennedy Events began with one goal in mind—to produce high-level corporate events with just as much strategy as style. Maggie founded the company in 2000, found her match in Paige, and in 2011 the two became official partners. Since then, these two resourceful and brilliant creatives have pooled their strengths to build one one of the most the most sought after corporate event companies in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.
Make sure that your event is as valuable to your company as it is meaningful to your attendee.
We’ve (nearly) done it all when it comes to large scale events.