By: Mary Cline, PCMA SE Membership Volunteer & Regional Director
This month, the Spotlight is on Kowana J. Ragland, CMP, Director of Meetings, Meeting Expectations.
How many years have you been in the hospitality industry?
I have been in the industry 25 years and counting!
How long have you been a PCMA member?
I joined in the fall of 2016 when I registered for 2017 Convening Leaders. I also attended the 2016 Education Conference and that great experience encouraged me to join..
What is your current job title, name of your organization and how long have you been in this position?
I am currently Director of Meetings at Meeting Expectations and work remotely from Charlotte, NC. I have been with the company 16½ years and in my current position 9 years.
What aspect(s) of your PCMA membership benefit you the most?
The educational content (events, PCMA News Junkie, Convene) has been awesome. I recently presented information I learned during 2017 Convening Leaders to my colleagues. After being in the industry for so long, I appreciate how PCMA demonstrates new technologies, strategies or processes at their events. So, you gain first-hand experience in addition to traditional education.
What is your most memorable moment, reflecting on your career, relating to doing what you “do?”
After 25 years, I have many memorable moments. One memorable moment is watching a client jump up and down in excitement when she used our print-on-demand badge system for the first time and it worked flawlessly. Most of my memorable moments are watching attendee’s expressions when they experience something new. After all, if I can create amazing attendee engagements, that’s a win-win for me and my client.
What is the most challenging part of your job and how do you handle that effectively?
Juggling multiple clients can be a challenge at times. I want each of my clients to feel that they are my only client. So, I prioritize my days to ensure important deadlines are being met. I’m also attentive and try to anticipate my client’s needs. I help strategize and respond to requests in a timely manner. Focusing on the client’s needs and objectives instills confidence that they are my top priority.
What is your passion outside of the “industry?”
My family is my passion. I have a very close relationship with my mother and recently moved back to NC so I can spend more time with my family. While it may not be a passion per se, I’ll also admit that after stressful days, I take much pleasure in watching reality TV.
Please share a beneficial app or website that you use professionally or personally.
I use Evernote a lot! I love that I can access the notes from multiple devices. For site visits, I like to use Notability because I can easily take photos and type notes about each photo within the app.
What is your signature tip for a great event?
Service with a smile! I had a client tell me that when I greet her with a smile, that makes her feel more confident that things are going well (even if they are not). Sure, we spend lots of time on all the event details. But when you interact with a positive demeanor and smile, you’ll find that those helping to execute the event will go above and beyond to make the event successful. Besides, my granny always told me that “Smiles make dimples and frowns make wrinkles.”
At what point and how did you decide to pursue a career in events/hospitality?
Actually, the hospitality/events industry found me! I was working for an association in the HR department and assisted my manager with registration for an HR event. When a position became available in the conference & exhibit department, I applied and was promoted to Conference Coordinator. I was promoted a couple more times within that association until I decided to make the big move from Raleigh, NC to Atlanta. I found Meeting Expectations on the Internet and submitted an online application. I moved to Atlanta without a job (only a couple interviews) but was hired and started work 2 weeks after I moved. Now, it’s 16½ years later and I’m still a part of the ME team! So, I’m thrilled that the hospitality industry found me and I’m so blessed to still be in a career that I grew to love.