Annette Suriani is the Chief Meeting Strategist at AMS Meetings Solutions, a meeting management company she started in April. With over 20 years in the industry, Annette is able to use her knowledge, experiences and relationships to be successful and keep busy in this new endeavor.
Universities didn’t offer the selection they do now in terms of hospitality related degrees. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited with what you can accomplish in the industry. Annette graduated from George Mason University with a BA in Government and Politics. After graduation, she began working as a receptionist at an association to help pay the bills. It was there that she started doing projects for the meetings department and never looked back.
Annette has worked for various associations and professional societies as well as a meetings management company carrying out various roles and responsibilities. It was her time working for the meetings management company that really left an impression. There she managed the needs of several clients and learned how to balance everything. “I don’t like being idle. I can’t sit around doing nothing!”
Working in meetings management was such a great fit that Annette started her own business doing just that! Owning a business is exciting and gives you flexibility but also has its challenges and comes with a lot of work. You’re not just planning meetings anymore, you’re running a business. Most of Annette’s clients come through word of mouth. Success as a business owner depends solely on you and the effort you put in and the product you deliver. “I don’t believe in saying I can’t do something. I can do anything I set my mind to…I haven’t learned how to say NO yet!”
Due to the nature of her business, Annette’s responsibilities differ from client to client. In a nutshell, “I am an extension of their staff and do what I need to in order make my client’s happy.” At times there are things she doesn’t want to do, but “you don’t say no, you’re not above anybody or anything.” Everything can be turned into a learning opportunity and applied to other aspects of life, both personal and professional. Meet it head on and have FUN with it!
Similar to other industries, relationships are key. Luckily, it seems to be a common perception that the people in our industry are some of the best! There’s nothing Annette enjoys more about her job then the people she meets and the relationships that have come from it. They are some of her closest friends and she spends time with them in and outside of the work environment.
Annette radiates with positivity and portrays someone we can all respect and admire…but what gives her a hard time? For one, balancing her feelings with what the client wants. The client is the final decision maker in her world. At times, she simply has to go along with what they want even if you know it’s not their best option. “I can’t force clients to do what I want or think is best. I can only give them my professional opinion.”
Additionally, at times, we’ve all done things that, when we reflect back, may not have been the best choice. Annette admits she’s “lost her cool with people” and felt guilty about it afterward. You can’t undo it but she believes, “Everything you do makes you who you are today. LEARN from it and don’t repeat it!”
Well if there was ever doubt before, there shouldn’t be any now, as to why Annette is currently serving as the President for PCMA’s Capital Chapter and she’s sure to give credit where credit is due. “I owe my career to PCMA.” All the jobs she’s had were because of her PCMA contacts. A majority of her education is obtained thru PCMA whether it is in their classrooms or by volunteering on almost every committee at some point.
Annette also pointed out that by being President this year, she has learned more about how to run an association then she ever imagined. It’s providing her the opportunity to learn about governance and fiscal responsibility, how to develop a strategic plan and how it works overall. In turn, it has given her more confidence in her ability to do her job.
Most importantly, it has given her the chance to learn more about other people and how to understand their perspective. Not everyone is going to have the same opinion about everything. However, Annette enjoys giving people the opportunity, when they are passionate about something that’s different from her opinion, to explain their perspective to her. There’s not always a right or wrong and sometimes the person has even been able to sway her to change her original viewpoint. “I’ve grown so much (by being the President this year).”
PCMA is her association of choice and it has yet to let her down!
“You get out of it what you put into it.”
Annette has a few more words of wisdom she wants to leave us with:
“Believe in yourself and believe in what you are doing!” You should work somewhere where you believe in their mission, what it is they stand for. Because your goal is to advance their mission. You have to like what you are doing. Never do things for you because it’s not about you, it’s about those we work for and serve.
And…when Annette finally grows up and gets that dream job, she wants to move to Miami, work for their CVB and be the nice lady who gets to hand out name badges! So years down the road, when Annette goes missing, have no fear, you can find her soaking up the rays and sharing her bubbly personality with those in the sunshine state!
If you have any questions or comments for Annette please comment below.