Melissa Swakow, 31, works in Chicago as senior manager of meetings and events at NHS Global Events. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Swakow discusses her passion for the events industry.
What I do: I am responsible for contracting, advance logistics and on-site management for our largest client programs. Since becoming a manager a few years ago, I now also spend a large portion of my day on the training and development of the meeting operations team. Finally, I support the business development team on securing new business and transitioning new engagements to my team.
How I got here: I joined NHS Global Events as a Meeting Services intern during my senior year at DePaul University. Once my internship ended, I was lucky enough to be offered a full-time position and have grown within the company.
Greatest career accomplishment: NHS was awarded management of a two-day, 350-person law firm annual partner conference. When the firm merged two months before the conference was set to begin, it became three days and 500 people. I was the lead on the program and responsible for renegotiating the contract, managing all conference logistics and overseeing a team of nine. The program was a huge success and, even though we had only previously sourced programs for the client, we won their appreciation and future meeting management business.
Impressive stats: My team, with only five employees, managed 38 programs in 2018 at nearly $1.3 million in revenue in 2018. Additionally, I negotiated away almost $17,000 in attrition damages for a program and was responsible for nearly $230,000 in hard dollar savings at another event.