Rachel Runnals, 35, works in Southfield, MI, as senior analyst, emerging markets, at COBX. As a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree, Runnals discusses her passion for the events industry.
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What I do: I am in the Digital/Marking/Consumer Experience department at COBX, which manages Medicare Advantage for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. In this capacity, I manage multiple event series throughout the year, all with unique stakeholders, while also providing strategic insight to our digital and member engagement. In the spring I create member education events for new MA PPO members, and in the fall I put on our Annual Enrollment Period Kick-Off event for agents. I’m also the go-to person to help plan ad hoc events and meetings.
How I got here: My background is in communications and event management, where I’ve held positions in health care, nonprofit and government consulting. I earned an MA in Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University and completed a certificate in digital media management. That, on top of 10 years working front-to-the-house positions in restaurants, I am able to bring a wide-range of experience to my role.
Greatest career accomplishment: This past September, I executed a four-day agent event in Traverse City, Michigan, which was larger and more detailed than previous meetings.
Impressive stats: In 2016, I was able to expand the number of guests at our AEP Kick-Off by 17 percent while staying within the same budget I had the year before.
Specific improvement I’ve made: I have been able to leverage my experience as a communications professional to refine and expand the way we prepare staff and guests for events. Specifically, I hold weekly meetings with leadership leading up to the event; prep meeting with all attending staff four days before; and send out detailed know-before-you-go emails to guests and staff alike.
What I’m working on: I am excited about our next AEP Kick-Off, which will be held at the historic Dearborn Inn in Dearborn, MI. Nearby are historic locations, such as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, which are perfect for private events and dinners. The ability to create a customized, one-of-a-kind event has me energized.
What I do outside of work: In my free time I travel, around the country (sometimes the world!) with my family and friends. Another way I spend my time is going to see my favorite bands live like The National. I also like to check out the new restaurants that are popping up in and around Detroit and take part in the growing foodie scene.