MPI Perspective - October 2008 - (Page 15)

conne c t in g w ith – Mitchell Bak s t , CMP By Scott Slocum, MMH MITCHELL BAKST, CMP SENIOR MANAGER TRADESHOWS AND EVENTS LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC. In keeping with our theme of Connecting through Collaboration for the 2008-2009 program year, we give you this column to connect you with some of the diverse professionals that make up Northern California Chapter of MPI. MPI: Can you give us a glimpse of your career path and growth in the industry, as well as an overview of your current role within your organization? Mitchell: I began my career as an event planner 20 years ago when I was tapped to produce the annual volunteer national conference at the nonprofit where I was employed at the time. The organization was in a bind as they had not begun to plan the three-day event for 300 people and it was scheduled for one month away. Since then, I have been involved in a variety of events ranging from seated dinners for 3,000 to international trade shows on three continents, plus a whole host of corporate functions including sales meetings, product launches, satellite teleconferences, investor relations events, company celebrations, trainings/seminars, and so on. Though it’s hardly my preferred way of doing things, I have become quite facile at producing major events in very limited timeframes. In my current role at LeapFrog, I’m a one-man department providing event and event-related services to our global headquarters. Some of my favorite projects here have taken me out of traditional event roles to do things like manage the opening of a satellite office in Beijing, China and run our permanent showroom in New York City’s International Toy Center (now closed due its sale to real estate tycoons). MPI: When did you join MPI and do you remember what/who prompted you to join? Mitchell: I joined MPI some two and a half years ago as a way to network with other event professionals and suppliers. Given I am pretty much a one-man band at LeapFrog, I found I was craving some creative input and stimulation from other like-minded professionals engaged in cor- porate planning. MPINCC proved to be a perfect place for me to satisfy that desire. MPI: Tell us about a connection you have made that has enhanced your career? Did your involvement in our chapter affect that connection in any way? Mitchell: One of the more exciting connections I’ve made was with an independent event professional in NYC where I was reaching out for help in serving some 500 people attending our week-long trade show in the Big Apple. Turns out, I knew Jhan 20 years prior to our current connection, when I lived in NYC and worked as a waiter while putting myself through graduate school. Her high energy and creative spirit were an inspiration to me and challenged me to take my own career to the next level. MPI: What advice do you have for someone considering MPI membership? Mitchell: Join! The networking opportunities and the input one can receive from the multitude of people, events and publications available through MPI are valuable assets to anyone seeking to advance a career in event production and management. MPI: What advice do you have for that planner who is just beginning his or her career? Mitchell: Engage yourself in as many conversations as you can, both verbally and in written words (a multitude of publications and Web sites are out there addressing the concerns of event professionals), to learn from others how events have been produced and used—for centuries, no doubt—to bring people together, advance business, promote change, and celebrate and acknowledge human accomplishment. In this way, one can gain great insight into the world of event production where it seems the sky’s the limit on what can be, and has been, done. Finally, remember that no teacher is better than first-hand experience. So jump in! MPI: Which trends do you expect to develop or continue within our industry during the next year? Mitchell: While virtual meetings and trade shows will no doubt continue to attract increasing numbers of people, especially given the global oil crisis and associated economic challenges, I don’t believe these will ever replace the faceto-face events that are central to human relationships and endeavor. Still, I believe it is important for the community of event professionals worldwide to learn how to engage in social networking on the Internet and to use technology to advance our field. Several exciting social networking Web sites have recently launched to fill this niche in the meeting professional’s world. MPI: Technology … how have you embraced technological advances within your organization and within your meeting planning role? What is the next significant benefit for our industry from progress in technology? Mitchell: The number and types of technologies that can be employed in event production can be dizzying to consider, from online registration and event management tools to on-site audio-visual techniques that wow audiences and allow for powerful mass communications. Given my current focus on marketing educational products for LeapFrog, I am most excited by these latter technologies which enhance the presentation of products and services to industry and media professionals. I find it important to stay focused on the specific MPINCCperspective | VOL. 27, NO. 2 | 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - October 2008

MPI Perspective - Ocotber 2008
President's Message
Spotlight on Audio-Visual
Connecting with - Mitchell Bakst, CMP
12 Technology Trends in the Meetings and Events Market
Corporate Social Responsibility - Good for Whom?
Member Pearls
Chapter Chatter
Destination Spotlight - Sonoma Country
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - October 2008