September 26, 2019

Fireside Chat - Professor Joe Goldblatt

On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, the Tisch Center of Hospitality co-hosted a Fireside Chat with ILEA, the International Live Events Association. The speaker was event management author, Professor Emeritus Joe Goldblatt. An event management icon, Professor Joe Goldblatt held the world's only professorial chair in planned event studies for ten years at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh Scotland.  He is the author of the first textbook in the field of event management that has been continuously published for 30 years.  He is also the author, co – author and editor of 37 books in the field of events management. During his career he produced events featuring President Ronald Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Oprah Winfrey. He was the founding president of the International Live Events Association.    

How did you first know that you wanted to be in the events space?    

My father owned a small hardware store and when I was about six years old, he received a telephone call from someone who was having trouble finding decorations for an Oktoberfest event he was hosting. Together, my father and I went to the store and loaded up his truck with dozens of hats and decorations. At the event, I saw hundreds of people having so much ‘joie de vivre’, and it was all because of a role that my father had the privilege of playing. This planted the seed for my interest in events. 

What were the first steps towards beginning career?

I have moved from being a performer, to a producer, to a professor. My wife and I were mimes and it started to become inconvenient to constantly perform in different locations, so we thought it would be better to have a base, which was Washington D.C. at the time. We began to get hired to do opening ceremonies (for example for the Nashville Convention Center) and events in shopping malls, both in Washington D.C. and around the world.

How did ILEA begin and grow?

At the Conference of Special Events, I was seated next to a man named Bob Graves who was a successful party rental dealer. He said to me that there was a gap in the association marketplace, for people in all different roles within the event space. At the next conference, I decided to host a meeting about forming an association, and I was so worried that no one would show up and picked a conference room that could fit only 10 people. However, 150 people showed up to that meeting in 1988! At the time, the event planning industry was a hodgepodge of various roles. There really was no such thing as an event planner. By creating a professional association, we gave legitimacy and credibility to the job. 

What are the challenges as an event professional people in the room should be prepared for? 

With the rapidly changing modalities of communication, I am not certain that the quality of communication is as robust and rich as it should be. Today, for the first time, we have events without end, as participants can continue the conversation on social media. However it will require educated professionals to make sure the live event is richer than ever before, ultimately moving people beyond their screens and into the room where we can learn and grow together.    

What sorts of skills do you think are necessary for a student to have coming out of an event management program? 

Experience is as important as skills. When an employer is reviewing your resume, they are going to want to hire someone who has had experience. The degree is important, however an internship or volunteer experience is also vital. If you want to stand out among all the other applicants, you have to show that you have interned and volunteered at credible places, which will make you more likely to be hired than someone who has not.

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