Leslie Fisher, Saint Mary's Commencement coordinator, spoke to students about her successful career in event planning at a recent event sponsored by SMCAMA, the college's American Marketing Association chapter, and shared some advice about how to get started in the field.

Fisher started her career while she was still in college by working with clubs and planning their events. She gained more experience doing entry-level marketing for small companies after her graduation from UCLA. She then took on the role of exhibit manager at Pacific Bell, where she participated in trade shows, channel promotions and sales motivation programs. She left Pacific Bell, to get her MBA from Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, which helped open doors and allowed for new opportunities. She was hired to do channel marketing by Quantum, where she focused on the four Ps (products, pricing, promotion and placement). After a few years, she changed gears and worked for nonprofits, coordinating events and fundraising activities, before taking her current position as Commencement coordinator at Saint Mary's.

In her presentation, Fisher highlighted jobs that draw on event planning, including party planning, conference planning, corporate event planning, nonprofit event management and trade show management. "Pick opportunities where you can get experience," regardless of whether they pay or not, Fisher advised.

While reviewing her typical day, she emphasized how important time management is. She also told students that it is important to find solutions. "It is better to be a problem solver than a blamer," Fisher said. Keys to success also included having lots of details to reference in case any questions arise. Fisher ended her presentation with a few words of advice: "Make sure you get skills and experience so that you can show people what you have to bring to the table."

SMCAMA gives students an opportunity to learn about a variety of careers through its professional development speaker series.

Kelly Fisher '11

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