THOUGH SHE'S BEEN with global money management firm Invesco for 18 years, Wanda Wynn says she still considers herself an event industry “newcomer.” Maybe that's because she spent half that time as a portfolio administrator before making the leap to meetings and client-entertainment management nine years ago.
A shift from stocks to site inspections may seem an unlikely career change to some, but for Wynn, the progression was a natural one. “Back then, we were a lot smaller. If your manager wanted to host an event, you'd work on the logistics, do what was needed,” she recounts. Then, in 1996, the Olympics came to Atlanta and changed everything. “We had a lot of clients coming for the Games, and we knew we had to do something,” she says. What the organization did was create a corporate services department and appoint Wynn to its ranks.
As a senior manager of the Atlanta-based department, today Wynn oversees client events ranging from simple golf outings to the elaborate receptions the company hosts in conjunction with major association conferences. The largest of these is the bash Invesco throws each year at the annual International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans gathering. “Because so many of our clients are there, it's a good way for us to get the most bang for our buck,” she says.
This year, to coincide with the event's Hawaiian location, Wynn will key on an island theme, and — as always — ensure great food and plenty of it. She notes: “I've been told by clients that their companies establish their per diem for the day of our event based on knowing they're going to eat well that day.”
One thing Wynn won't do for the IFEBP party, or any of the corporate events she produces, is push the envelope in regard to guest gifts. Many clients are allowed to receive gifts only of a certain value in accordance with corporate regulations, she explains. On top of that, “Because clients pay us for our services, we don't want to give the appearance we're wasting money” — particularly since Invesco stakes its reputation on astute management of funds. One of the best ways she's found to avoid potential problems is to forego lavish knickknacks in favor of practical prizes. For a golf outing, for instance, “We'll do a golf chair or umbrella, something they can use during the event, so we don't appear to be extravagant.”
Being able to fulfill the client-entertainment demands of her Invesco managers while maintaining the stringent professionalism that her business requires gives Wynn a sense of pride. Being able to do so while still finding time to run the department's on-site conference center, attend the ISES Eventworld conference every year and serve as drama director for her church — that transforms pride into a sense of personal fulfillment. “Most people think I'm way too busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way,” she says. “I love every aspect of what I do.”
Invesco Corporate Services One Midtown Plaza, 1360 Peachtree St., N.E., Atlanta, GA 30309; 404/439-3051; www.invesco.com
TALK THE TALK
“One of the things we've started to do is really talk about [Invesco] products at our events. Before, it was just chatting. Now we take a few minutes at the event to talk about what we do — not enough to drive [guests] crazy, but to introduce new things. Afterward, we survey them. Did they learn anything new? Were there products they were especially interested in? Also, were they able to make contact and spend time with their money manager?”
ALL IN HOUSE
“One of the reasons for having a corporate services department is to keep from having to use DMCs. DMCs may have a good sense of what people do and don't like, but that sense is generalized. I know the difference between our East Coast and West Coast clients. I know the East Coast will want a soul band, not the lounge music the West Coast might want. Knowing our clientele, I can make the best choices for their events.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
“I'm there to make it easier for our managers so they don't have to worry about whether transportation is arranged, etc. Just to see them standing face to face with their clients — and not having to worry about those clients — is great.”