Last December, the newly renovated Historic Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech reopened, and the venue has since been a flurry of activity. Shawn Stinson and Anne Minty share how they can partner with you to produce a successful event and why it’s okay to act like a duck at times.
- How did you get into the event-planning field?
Anne – My first job out of college was as a marketing representative for a Fortune 500 company. No one from the marketing department was handling tradeshows, so I volunteered to take on that responsibility and fell into meeting planning and organization from there.
Shawn – While I was in high school, I drove by a country club every day and thought it would be a great place to work. So one day, I dressed up, went in, and asked if they were hiring. They hired me on the spot, and by the time I turned nineteen they had promoted me to food and beverage director. I kept the job for the next six years, putting myself through college in the process.
- What skills are essential to event planning?
Anne – Flexibility and the ability to stay calm.
Shawn – Adaptability and patience. Be a duck on the bottom (paddling like crazy) but a swan on top! No one needs to know/see what is going on below the surface (or behind the scenes).
- Are there any personality characteristics that are helpful with this kind of job?
Anne – Customer service-oriented; passionate.
Shawn – Can’t take yourself too seriously; organized; able to anticipate and stay one step ahead.
- Explain your typical work day.
Shawn -We were both drawn to this career because there is no typical work day. We can come in as early as 4:00 a.m. and stay until 2:00 a.m. We meet at the coffee pot a lot.
- Is there a process you follow to plan an event (checklists, etc.)?
Anne – I’m a big believer in checklists; however, the use of the checklist is often dependent on the advance notice of the event. Also, as we train students in this field, we want to ensure they are trained properly, so checklists are essential.
Shawn – I like to meet with clients often, face-to-face in the space, and walk the event with them from start to finish.
- Are there any things that can help guarantee the success of an event?
Anne and Shawn- Know your numbers! Walk through the event backwards, with the end in mind. Think, “What are you trying to accomplish?” Get all players involved. Meet with everyone who is supplying anything for the event.
- What are some of the unique features of the Historic Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech?
Anne and Shawn- The acoustics in the theater are phenomenal. We have a chandelier from “Gone with the Wind.” We have a tie to Georgia Tech – the architect was in the first graduation class of the School of Architecture. The Academy is a “bit of a museum” in that we have medical artifacts throughout the building. We also have a baby grand piano.
- Is there any underutilized or overlooked space in the Academy of Medicine?
Anne- Most people don’t know that we are open seven days a week and Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We will rent individual rooms for as low as $125 for four hours.
- If you had one tip to share with an event planner looking to secure space in the Academy of Medicine, what would that be?
Shawn- Scheduling for the Academy of Medicine is not done through EMS (Event Management System) so you have to call to check dates. We can usually accommodate “almost last minute” requests.
- If you had one “no-no” about reserving space in the Academy of Medicine, what would that be?
Anne- You cannot bring in outside food or drink. You must use Georgia Tech preferred caterers. The Academy also has its own liquor license.
- Are there any budget-friendly options you provide that would enhance an event?
Anne- When putting your budget together for an event at the Academy, weekdays are more cost-effective. Basic A/V (projector, screen, wired and wireless mics), flip charts, a dance floor, tables, and chairs are included in the rental fee.
- What advertising options are available?
Shawn- The columns out front are set up to hang banners.
- What is the best way to contact you?
- What do you do in your free time?
Anne – I love to do Pilates. And of course I love to play with my two beautiful dogs!
Shawn – Run teenagers around, spend time at lacrosse fields, cooking.
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Anne and Shawn- We don’t see ourselves as venue managers. We see ourselves as co-event planners, partnering with you to make your event successful. We have a great team here and are supported by a great team. Besides the two of us, we have three students. One student is office-based, helping with signage, use agreements, and phones. Another student assists with PR and marketing and provides event support. Our third student provides support as an event manager. We are flexible to a fault; we always answer the phone. The Academy of Medicine is an Atlanta treasure (on the National Register of Historic Places), and we take great pride in the events that happen here.
Written by LaJauna Ellis