TORONTO — Stephanie Gadbois joined Big Picture Conferences two months ago. Here’s what she has to say about what lies ahead in her new role as managing director. Big Picture is also welcoming Vicki Welstead back into the fold.
CLN: How are you enjoying your first few months at Big Picture Conferences?
STEPHANIE: The last two months have been a whirlwind. I’ve been spending my time digging into Big Picture’s current conferences (CHIC, WCLC and the HAC National Conference), getting to know the Big Picture team and all the players that make up this fascinating industry. Some names are more familiar than others…
CLN: What is your background in the conference industry?
STEPHANIE: I’ve spent the past 15 years in the show and event industry, building and managing events, conferences and shows ranging in size from 20 people all the way to 15,000 people. Most of these 15 years have been spent working for the Allied Beauty Association and the Canadian Gift Association and running their conferences, events and shows.
CLN: What is your exposure to the hotel industry?
STEPHANIE: My dad [Philippe Gadbois] has worked in the hotel industry my entire life. We essentially lived in hotels when I was very young with some of my earliest memories being at the Quebec City Hilton, where the housekeeping staff taught me how to make a bed properly. As the years went on, we moved around Canada and the U.S. with each hotel transfer my dad received. I met so many interesting people within the industry along the way. Although I have never worked in a hotel, I have knowledge of the industry as whole and a great pool of people to draw expertise from.
CLN: What made you decide to take the job with Big Picture Conferences?
STEPHANIE: At the time the opportunity presented itself, I was very comfortable running the Toronto Gift Show. I wasn’t looking to make a change at the time, but my curiosity was piqued with the offer. I loved the idea of running a small team again and creating events from the ground up.
CLN: What aspects of your past experience make this job a good fit?
STEPHANIE: Running a small team is what I love most, where you can dig your hands into all aspects of a conference or event. When I worked for the Allied Beauty Association (ABA) my team was small and we created the most amazing hair shows utilizing everyone’s ideas and knowledge. When you empower your staff to take ownership in what they are building and creating, the results always speak for themselves.
CLN: What are some of the plans in the works for Big Picture Conferences?
STEPHANIE: We will be tweaking our current conferences— CHIC, WCLC and HAC — and digitizing certain elements within them. We will also be expanding our corporate event management business, and we plan to build a new event/show, which will launch in the next two years.
CLN: Anything new or different about the upcoming WCLC? HAC? CHIC?
STEPHANIE: We will be revamping a few elements of each of the conferences. Stay tuned for updates and details.
CLN: Any other thoughts going forward?
I am so excited to welcome back Vicki Welstead as our director of sponsorship development. She joins myself, Hannah Pattison and Maggie Wong to round out the Big Picture team. With everyone in place we are ready for a fantastic end of 2019 and 2020 conference circuit.