Ryan Rockenbaugh, CMP, 31, works in Chicago as event planner at Cars.com. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Rockenbaugh discusses his passion for the events industry.
*Connect with Rockenbaugh on Instagram.
What I do: I currently manage and plan over 60 B2B events annually, ranging from private intimate events to Cars.com’s prestigious awards gala in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. For these events, my role starts at conception all the way to the final bill, with many short nights in between. But fear not: Being that my markets range from Chicago to California, I have plenty of time to sleep on the plane. Between managing budgets, registration, creative design, hotels, ground transportation and once even booking Chewbacca, my day to day is never the same, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How I got here: After living in six states and planning hundreds of events, I finally landed in Chicago with Cars.com. My journey started in Washington, D.C., managing leadership conferences for international students. My time in D.C. was split between conferences and working in the hotel realm. Eventually, I felt the need to be closer to home and returned to Indiana, where for a brief stint I planned board meetings. In 2014, I packed my bags and headed north to the Windy City to take on a new role as an event marketer with an established dot-com and haven’t looked back.
My greatest career accomplishment: I was able to restart a client summit that hadn’t taken place for four years that was a much-needed event during the long summer months. By bringing the who’s who of our client base into Chicago, our teams had an opportunity to strengthen those relationships. The two-day event culminated with lunch on (yes, physically on) Wrigley Field. Of course, as a lifelong South Sider, I made a few enemies at home that day—but happy client, happy life.