Inspirational Women in the Events Industry part 4: Leonora Valvo and Marie-Claire Andrews – #womenineventtech – USA
During this blog series I am researching, connecting with and interviewing some true female trailblazers in the Event Industry. No matter their location or their field of expertise, I want to inspire you with their stories and shout from the rooftops about their missions and morals.
It’s also important to me to showcase lots of different sides of the industry, which is why when I stumbled across the #womenineventtech movement I knew I had to get in touch with their team and find out more about what they do.
#womenineventtech is a collaboration that begun in 2017 by event tech entrepreneurs Leonora Valvo and Marie-Claire Andrews – a new movement for the growing yet unserved section of the event community – those women trailblazing new products and services in event tech.
It’s a natural fit for Leonora Valvo, winner for the Entrepreneurial Innovation & Leadership category for 2011 Women of Innovation, Founder/CEO of Swoogo and pioneer of the Event Tech Tribe, founding CEO of etouches, and investor in multiple event tech organizations worldwide. Leonora says: “I truly believe every woman in our industry, as they climb higher in the ranks, should be looking about her to reach down and pull up the next wave of female leaders.” Leonora, who was named in the 2017 Top 25 Women in the Meetings industry added, “my passion of course is event technology – I’ve been inspired by some fantastic females around the world on my journey, and want to pass on that privilege.”
Marie-Claire, Director of Operations for the Tribe and previously CEO of New Zealand based event app company, ShowGizmo and founder of virtual events business Virtual Events NZ said, “I scan the event tech landscape continuously as part of my role with the Event Tech Tribe – and it’s worrying to see how few women there are leading or developing either within established companies or the new innovations.” Andrews added, “I just think it’s twice as hard – being a women in the events industry AND being in tech doubles the challenges.”
Despite the Events industry being female-dominated, the gender pay gap still exists and women find themselves overshadowed in boardrooms by their male counterparts. What Leonora and Marie-Claire have created is more than just a movement to promote women in the events industry, but a community of strong willed successful women smashing the stereotypes of the technical side of the industry, too.
The movement comes at a time when the empowerment of women and equal opportunities are top of mind in the media and around board tables. The site womenineventtech.org, calls for participation and support so that the founders can assess the right time to engineer a conference and gauge interest in other products/services. The future will bring meetups, investor introductions, peer to peer coaching, “and naturally an event!” said Marie-Claire, “it’s not just for founders, we want to reach women in all facets of event tech from engineers to entrepreneurs and from sales to support.” The founders are working closely with the Association for Women in Events, of which Marie-Claire is a Board member, and which will remain the membership organization any women in event tech that wish to join.
Leonora and Marie-Claire say: “Our movement and blog womenineventtech.org is a space to share and connect the community of people that believe there are more opportunities for women to lead in event tech than we see currently. Whether that’s starting event tech companies, programming event tech innovations, designing breath-taking event installations – we don’t care. Whatever the tech, wherever the event, whoever the woman – we’re getting behind you to share stories, meet up, inspire and connect.”
What are your top tips for aspiring event tech professionals?
– Find your Tribe! Join a group, set up a Meetup, whatever it takes to connect and get strength from those who’ve been there before, or need your help.
– Take some risks, try things out – present whatever you do as an experiment and people will support you. You have to take some risk to get the rewards, and with event tech the risk is low and the rewards can be huge!
– Observe – so many moving parts go into producing events. Learn about it, even if it isn’t currently ‘your job’.
– Be professional – the events industry has grown up. Beware of old school limitations.
– Have fun – events is a great place to be. Every day brings new tasks, challenges, opportunities. Every event is like starting a new business.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Leonora Valvo: My inspiration comes from so many places. Business leaders who just seem to get it. Community leaders who demonstrate passion and commitment. My kids, now adults, who are creative, informed, and display an admirable work ethic.
Marie-Claire Andrews: Where do I look for inspiration? Young people. I mean, 18-25 year olds who’re bursting onto the scene with new ideas, no baggage, energy and enthusiasm. Digital natives that are pushing tech boundaries.
I hope as you’re reading this blog you’re inspired to reach out to the community – share your own stories and creations, and realise you have a place and a voice in the technical side of the industry – don’t be afraid to get involved and connect.