Rae M. Hawkins, 34, works in Greenville, South Carolina, as senior event specialist at SYNNEX Corporation. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Hawkins discusses her passion for the events industry.
What I do: As an in-house planner for a steadily growing IT distribution company, I plan and execute a wide range of events including incentive trips, trainings, parties, road shows, exhibitions and conferences. Recently, I have taken a lead on our larger conferences. I love the puzzle that is making an ever-changing agenda and vendor needs fit into the meeting space that was contracted.
How I got here: I am a trained artist with a BFA from one of the country’s top art and design schools, but as a student I worked in the events department, which ran all the event venues and lectures on campus. I started out as a student worker and was promoted to technician, then coordinator and eventually acting assistant director. When I finally left (nine years later), I knew I didn’t want to run a venue anymore. I tried several things and eventually landed at SYNNEX, where I fell in love with its fast-paced environment.
My greatest career accomplishment: I think my greatest career accomplishment would be finding success after completely starting my career over. When I started at SYNNEX, I was thrown into planning from day one. I had to learn about the corporate world, the hospitality industry, hotel contracts and the world of BEOs. Coming from running venues at a college, this was all foreign. I think I was able to adapt quickly and excel to the point of taking on much more than what was expected from my position.