• Meet Craig Oliver, Lifetime Achievement, 2019 Hall of Fame

     
    POSTED April 29, 2019
     

    Minnesota Meetings + Events is proud to introduce our 2019 Hall of Fame, made up of seven top-notch individuals who are positively impacting the meetings and events industry.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Craig Oliver

Director of Operations; Après Event Dècor and Tent Rental

"Some of my best memories are just collaborating with my ILEA peeps that I’ve known for 20 years. ... We all work together and pull off some pretty magical stuff.”

On his secret weapon: “On-the-fly problem solving, which is what events are all about. As hard as we plan it, something comes up or a truck breaks down, you know, lights go out, whatever, you have to be flexible and really be able to make decisions.”

On how he unwinds: “Besides bourbon? … I’m not one to dwell and just sit there for hours and hours because you’re onto the next event. You just gotta move forward.”

On his future: “Just keep teaching and training and learning. I’ve got a few years left in me before I retire to the golf course in the sky, wherever that is.”

“I moved here in ‘85, so when I was 28 years old. Since then I’ve had three jobs basically. You see a lot of technology changes, industry changes, and you have to grow and learn and then you teach. It’s just been an evolution, there’s always something new in the events business. You look at even a tent, what it was 20 years ago, compared to today. There’s no comparison.”

On getting the job done: “In the end it just has to go and the doors have to open, right? I’ll do pretty much anything.”

His best advice: “Get involved. Volunteer. It’s a great way to learn different disciplines. Go volunteer at an event and maybe you’ll work with the lighting guy ... and become well-rounded. I can’t do everything, but I can do everything a little bit.

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.

 

Take note of these seven pros who are making their mark in the meetings and events industry. 

Jolene Ihle, Founder
IdeationMKT
Lifetime Achievement 

“I was 10 years old when I received my Muscular Dystrophy Carnival Kit in the mail. The box was filled with cool ideas and colorful materials to  support fundraising efforts. I was completely enthralled with the event planning process. … This experience was my jumpstart into events and I was hooked.”