Amanda Luppino-Esposito is the Events Manager at the Charles Koch Institute, a non-profit located in Arlington, Virginia. When asked how she got started in the events and meetings industry Amanda said, “By Accident!”
Amanda doesn’t have the typical degree or background that you find with many people in this industry. She didn’t become aware of event planning as a career choice until she stumbled upon it in her first job out of college as a program assistant at a non-profit in Delaware. As Amanda’s role expanded so did her event planning responsibilities. Even after her three years with the company in a role heavily submerged in event planning, Amanda was still unaware that an entire industry of event planners existed.
“People do this for a living, that’s really cool!” were Amanda’s thoughts after discovering the endless career opportunities available for event planning in Washington, DC. Before discovering this, Amanda knew she was ready for a change and wanted to move to DC. An opportunity at the Charles Koch Institute became available that would allow Amanda to make event and meeting planning a fulltime job, so four years ago she accepted the position and made the move.
In her current position, Amanda’s responsibilities have shifted from being 100% hands-on in meeting planning to managing the Charles Koch events team. Her team handles the logistics for all Charles Koch Institute and Foundation events. As the Events Manager, Amanda provides guidance and support for her team, along with an event strategy for the organization.
Amanda has found what many of us look for and that is LOVING her job. Her enthusiasm radiated through the phone during the entire interview. “I love the organization and its mission and getting people excited about it!” For those of you unaware, myself included until now, their mission is “to prepare professionals for careers that improve well-being by advancing free societies.” Which Amanda successfully rolled over into her role as manager as well. For some of the members on her team, this is their first fulltime job and Amanda enjoys having the opportunity to help build their careers and mentor them.
But, Amanda’s desire to mentor others doesn’t stop there. She runs her own Event Planning and Entertaining blog (www.planningitall.com) where you can find ideas for personal and professional use. Additionally, Amanda hosts EventShare once a month at her office in Arlington. It’s a lunch and learn environment geared toward interns and entry level planners working at non-profits, but is open to others as well. Topics and speakers vary, so you can attend them all or pick and choose what topics work best for you. If you’re interested in attending you can contact Amanda at the email address below.
So, with nothing but good things to say about her job, what could Amanda possibly dislike? The answer…TIME, and the lack of it! Event planning is an around the clock job and it’s hard to accomplish everything you want. At the Charles Koch Institute, Amanda’s team is consistently trying to make all their events better. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time to execute ALL their ideas.
Previously, I mentioned that Amanda accidently found herself in an event planning career. Having no concept of this career, she quickly realized there was a lot she didn’t know. In fact, her greatest challenge has been “Not Knowing What I Didn’t Know!” But, I think this is something everyone in every industry can relate to, since it is impossible to stop learning and know everything. Amanda’s confidence with event planning has grown with her experience and her willingness to learn and ask for help by searching for the appropriate resources.
Three years ago, Amanda went after and obtained her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional). Not because her job required her to, but because she wanted to and she knew it would be valuable to her. She wanted the experience of pushing herself to learn more and she did. “It was a lot of information and a lot of not knowing what I didn’t know.”
Learning is key and PCMA provides its members with a gateway to do just that! “[PCMA] opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a whole community of people that do what I do.” It provides you with great networking and educational opportunities. Having at least one thing in common with everyone means you’re bound to create many priceless relationships with people involved in all aspects of the industry!
Which leads me to Amanda’s piece of advice…”get exposure to ALL sides of the industry, the supplier side and the planner side.” If Amanda could redo one thing it would be exploring all the options, if nothing else it gives you a better understanding of the whole picture. Get yourself out there and see how it works, see what others are doing. “To be successful you have to go to other events!”
Any questions for Amanda, please comment below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.