Judy Payne bridges GameStop’s generational divide with meetings.
Ileigh Reynolds transforms events into experiences.
Hillary Harris left a top spot at Warner Bros. Studios for life as an independent event producer.
Here’s the one question you might want to avoid asking Robbie Harrell when you see one of his sculptures at an event: “Is that real ice?” The CEO of Minnesota Ice Sculptures says his com - pany’s sculptures are so clear and precisely carved that they prompt that question at every event they’re displayed. “Once people realize it really, truly is carved from ice, they’re excited about it,” he says. “There are always lots of selfies with the ice sculpture.”
Ever since he was a teenaged event manager in Melbourne, Australia, Wayne Fernandez has sought ways to work leaner, faster and bigger. Today he has dual roles as general manager of the Magic Box at the Reef, a downtown Los Angeles venue and small convention center with over 100,000 square feet of event space, and head of Curated Events, his event production company. Efficiency matters more than ever to him, and with his proprietary cost- and time-saving software, Exhibitor Management Tool, Fernandez is out to streamline how events are planned, managed and invoiced.
Marilyn Sukonick-Zeff’s story starts in a Barnes & Noble. On a whim, many moons ago—as she says—she took her two children for story hour at the national bookstore and noticed there would be a tarot card reader coming in to promote selling the cards. The experience intrigued her so much she asked for a private reading with the woman on a different date.
The Heathman Hotel’s Troy Longwith worked his way up the ladder to success.
Marcela Ceccacci grew up traveling with her parents and fell in love with the idea of working in hotels. That way, her career could take her anywhere in the world.
“I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live when I grew up, since I was fortunate enough to spend summers in Italy and winter breaks in Buenos Aires,” says Ceccacci. “I decided that pursuing a career in hospitality would be the best route for me.”
Minnesotans have no trouble rattling off the reasons they love this place: abundant lakes, top-notch restaurants, a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, and, of course, the new U.S. Bank Stadium. But all out-of-towners often hear about are the harsh winters.
Scott Stinebaugh is a spartan. But as an MSU student, his focus was business, not the university’s well reputed hospitality program.
“I never had any idea I would wind up in hospitality,” says Stinebaugh, director of sales and marketing for the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. “But I wound up in a Hilton training program right out of college. It wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I was intrigued by it. And that was the beginning, in 1987. So I’ve been doing this for a long time.”