January 27, 2013
Like many people in the association management industry, Kellen Company employees have enthusiastically answered the question, “And what do you do?” only to receive a blank stare and a polite “Huh?!” Although association management employs tens of thousands of people, most of the world doesn’t know about the thriving industry. Many of us didn’t even know about it when we started our careers. In this ongoing series, we’ll share how our employees discovered this career path and why they’ve stuck around.
How do you explain your job at cocktail parties?
“What do you do?” is a very common question when you meet new people. Before I joined Kellen Company, my answer was always quick and specific, as people were familiar with the industries I worked in. But now, nearly 99% of the people who I meet do not know what association management is. Usually I would make an overall introduction first, explaining that association management is really a special industry and that we provide different types of services for a lot of diversified organizations, like full service management, specifically including membership development, PR, marketing, regulatory monitoring, and meeting and exhibition planning. We also provide services for companies, such as planning industry meetings, workshops, seminars and expos around the globe.
What did your 12 year old self think you were going to be when you grew up? Are you doing anything related to that dream job now?
When I was a very little girl, 4 or 5 years old, my uncle, the youngest brother of my father’s, often took me to visit my grandma who lived with my uncle. There every night I noticed that my uncle taught young people Kung fu. I was very interested in that, and when I was 7, I thought I wanted to learn and teach Kung fu too. In school, I played a lot of sports, and although my current job is far from my earliest dream, the exercises I did always makes me to keep energetic and optimistic, which drives me to move forward.
How did you end up in the industry?
I worked for several companies with different industries, and helped to start a business for my friend, who introduced me to International Finance Forum. I helped the global organization of political and economic leaders to plan its meetings. After those experiences, I noticed a job posting for an association management position on a famous job-hunting website. I had never heard of association management, but it seemed interesting and new to me, so I applied, and after several interviews, I joined Kellen Company. More than 3 years have passed, and I found this industry more interesting and special.
What’s your favorite part about working in association management?
I like that I am never working on just one project or in just one industry. That means I can work with people from different industries, which is really attractive and interesting. When a project s is similar other projects I have done, I can apply what I already know, and for diverse ones, I can learn and develop my skills more.
What do you think the association management industry will look like in ten years?
More and more organizations/companies have asked for more professional and detailed services, and have turned to professional service providers like Kellen Company. In doing so, they also can show their professionalism and efficiency. With more global cooperation, transnational service is more and more important. As a global professional service provider, Kellen Company can offer services with a global reach, while providing understanding of different culture backgrounds.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
No project is small and every client is important. No matter what size the projects we take on is, no matter how difficult the person is to deal with, we need to pay attention to every detail and make every work done well.