Celebrating Women Achieving Great Things
Insights and Advice from of Opus Agency's Leaders.
As with nearly everything about the event industry, the common denominator comes down to the people. People in the right roles, people with vision and determination, people willing to take risks and create new ways of doing things, and people producing memorable experiences regardless of the platform.
At Opus Agency, the majority of our people happen to be women, 75% to be exact. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we celebrate four outstanding women who are accomplishing big things within our agency and being recognized by the industry for their stellar work.
Kim Kopetz, President of Opus Agency and The Opus Group, was named one of the 100 most Influential People in the Event Industry. Our Executive Vice President, Digital Studios, Brooke Hall, received an innovator award from Smart Meetings, Caryn Mambro was promoted to Chief Creative Officer, and Lisa Doughty, Creative Director, won a first-ever Top Women in Marketing award.
We asked Kim, Caryn, Brooke, and Lisa to share career tips and advice, insights on the state of the events industry and where it’s headed, and words of wisdom in celebration of International Women’s Day.
All of you were promoted during the pandemic, in a space and time where it was harder than ever to produce events and connect with people. How did you overcome all of the obstacles?
Brooke – I’m proud of how adaptable our team was. It was a huge team effort that required a lot of cross-functional teamwork. We had to put new processes in place around completely adaptable new concepts, provide resources, and learn new jobs on the spot. Today, our team is completely different; we’ve evolved into new digital spaces I couldn’t have imagined before.
Lisa – I couldn’t agree with Brooke more. We had to roll with the punches, constantly reinvent ourselves, and reimagine how we would design experiences. We had to pivot so many times that it was imperative we became an extension of our client’s team. We had to ensure our relationships with clients and groups within Opus were in lockstep to pull off successful experiences regardless of being in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
Kim – When the pandemic hit, our people needed transparency and open communication from our leadership. There was so much uncertainty in every aspect of our lives that, as a leader, it was necessary for me to put emotion aside and make some difficult decisions to keep the business going. What was happening to our industry wasn’t anybody’s fault, which made conversations even harder. But I’m so proud of how we handled those difficult times. Our team rallied together with grace and empathy for our industry and one another.
Caryn – I embrace change, it’s part of my DNA. I believe everything we go through gives us a new perspective, and sometimes those challenges result in our best work. It’s important to be open to curiosity, and the pandemic brought us that, but it gave us the ability to adopt new practices that changed the way we do things today, and that’s exciting.
Lisa and Brooke, you both won awards specifically geared towards women. Do you think female-only awards help or hurt the cause?
Brooke – I was honored to win, and it’s great to be celebrated, but I would love to get to a point where we compete as marketers, and awards are granted based on performance, skill sets, and merit.
Lisa – It’s a good attempt to fix what has been an issue in our industry, and it’s great they are highlighting women, but as Brooke mentioned, it would be even better to get to a place where awards and recognition aren’t gender-specific.
Do you feel like it’s a different space for women in the experiential and event industry than it was five or 10 years ago? Where do you see the industry headed?
Brooke – I started my career at a completely female-led company, and I’ve been fortunate enough to never experience a situation where it felt difficult to succeed as a female. Coming to Opus Agency has felt like a continuation in that respect, as we have a female president, and a majority of our team is female. From a general perspective, I think the event industry has had strong female representation, maybe less so in the tech spaces. Still, we have seen more women step into those predominantly male roles in the last decade, and I envision that will continue.
Lisa – I agree with Brooke that the creative and production aspects of the industry have been more male-dominated in the past, but we’re starting to see a shift in female representation. In my career, I’ve seen many strong female role models rising up, and I envision that will continue and it’s something I model my own behavior after. We have some strong female voices in this industry, and that’s amazing.
Caryn – From a creative perspective, we still have a long way to go as only 3% of creative directors are female, regardless of their field. But as Brooke and Lisa mentioned, we’re making progress and seeing more women in positions that have been predominantly male-led in the past. As we continue to see women rise in leadership positions, I’m hoping it causes a domino effect that will start a new trend because we are more conscientious about it and recognize the importance of equity and diversity as an industry.
Kim – It’s definitely changing for the better. We are beginning to see other companies in our industry promote female presidents, but there aren’t really any female CEOs unless they are founders. So while we have seen improvement, there’s still a disparity between the number of women in middle management and senior leadership positions. I have always felt leadership positions should be filled on merit, and so it’s rewarding to see exceptional women getting more opportunities. There’s still work to be done, especially regarding pay equity, not just in our industry but in the workforce in general.
For the female event marketer who is looking to advance in her career, what advice would you give them?
Brooke – Be flexible. In our industry things are always changing and evolving, no day is ever the same, which is why I love what I do so much. But you must be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Lisa – Be willing to jump in and try something new, whenever you can, and if you see a need, fill it. Don’t wait for somebody else to solve the problem, even if it’s outside of your wheelhouse. Being willing to try something new and being innovative is a powerful place to be.
Caryn – Listen to learn. You won’t learn anything if you can’t pause and listen to those around you and absorb what they’re saying. Keep moving and set your sights on being someone else’s role model one day. Keep honing in on what you’re doing, and never be afraid of making a change or trying something new. Try as many things as possible, and don’t be scared of failing. The most amazing things come out of getting over a hurdle.
Kim – Be curious and constantly willing to learn new things. Seek out context because the more information you have, the easier it will be to form opinions, make decisions, and develop new ideas. In marketing, your primary job is to change or influence behavior and thinking, and you can’t do that without having a broad perspective and understanding.
It was unanimous the advice above was meant for ANY marketer looking to advance in the industry, regardless of gender .
What’s the best career advice you have ever received?
Brooke – Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. I think women can be afraid of that at times because it can be misinterpreted as weakness. In my experience, being willing to be human can lead to much deeper connections on your team.
Lisa – Have grace under pressure at all costs, and that is exceptionally true for the event industry. You have to deal with a lot of changes and varying opinions. With things changing so quickly at any given moment, the ability to stay calm and focused is so important and something I live by.
Caryn – If you are going to push boundaries and take risks, do it without the fear of failing, and don’t be afraid to fail hard. That’s where you’ll find your greatest successes – overcoming obstacles and fear.
Kim – Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t focus on someone else’s opinion of the right work-life balance. Embrace that it’s your life and how you live it, with the priorities and choices that you make.
What’s your message to other women on International Women’s Day?
Brooke – If you are in an environment where you feel like it is particularly difficult for you because you are a woman, then you’re not in a healthy environment, and you should feel comfortable raising your hand and evoking change. And never apologize for taking a seat at the table. You deserve to be there.
Lisa – Know you are equal to your male counterparts and know you have an important voice. If you can remember that and exert that respect and positive culture will follow suit in everything you do.
Caryn – The industry will continue evolving, and so should you. Always keep going, find meaning and joy in everything you do, and celebrate it.
Kim – A program that Google started called “I am remarkable” really impacted me. It’s about acknowledging and rewarding the incredible things you do each day, even if they are very little moments. Regardless of how small, celebrate every win and pat yourself on the back for your remarkable moments.
A Final Thought
Opus Agency is proud of our female representation, but we recognize, as an industry, there’s a long way to go to create a more equitable place for all marketers. It takes all of us to evoke lasting change. Let’s continue empowering, recognizing, and celebrating women in our industry and community as we forge ahead.
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