Meeting Planner Profile: Brent Taylor, CMP, CMM

Brent Taylor, CMP, CMMName: Brent Taylor, CMP, CMM

Present: Principal, Timewise Event Management Inc.; Advisory Board Member, Event Leadership Institute; Immediate Past President, Greater Edmonton Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

Past: President, Greater Edmonton Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (2 terms); Worked freelance as a Technical Producer, Audio Visual Technician, Stagehand and Broadcast Cameraman; Studio/ENG Cameraman, A-Channel Television; Audio Visual Technician, Ciné Audio Visual.

Expertise: Over 17 years in event planning and audio visual/technical services.

Specialty: Offering strategic development services for meetings and events. Working with organizations to ensure their objectives are achieved and value proposition delivered upon.

Tell us about yourself:

I am fascinated by ideas and the possibilities that they bring. I am driven to always look for better ways of doing things. I love to share ideas and knowledge with other people.

The Edmonton region has always been my home. With the exception of some harsh winters I could never imagine living anywhere else. I was raised on a farm north of Edmonton until I moved to the city about 20 years ago.  Growing up in rural Alberta taught me lessons in responsibility, integrity and motivation that have helped carry forward my career and business.

I am married to my business partner Arlene Schilke.  It was through the good fortune of falling in love with her that I was challenged to consider more than a career in audio visual and technical services. Arlene and I have four young children who are all event planners in training.

Tell us about your work:

I am very passionate about our industry. It is difficult to imagine doing anything else. I am co-owner of Timewise Event Management with my wife. I have thoroughly enjoyed building our business over the past 12 years and look forward to the future.

Every event brings with it a unique set of opportunities. It is always a thrill to work with a client who understands the potential of their event and understands what we bring to the table. We work with them to design strategies to develop and grow their event. As an industry, we have focused for too long on delivering efficiencies and have given little thought to ensuring effectiveness. We are starting to see a welcome shift to having to prove the value in our events and meetings programs.

How did you get to where you are today?

I could not have imagined that my early interest in photography would have led me to where I am today. This interest introduced me to the audio visual communications program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton. During this program and for two years after graduation I worked for Ciné Audio Visual.  The great team at Ciné opened my world to staging and technical production.

I left Ciné to explore a freelance career in technical production, video production, broadcast camerawork, and even work as a grip on some feature films. When I met my wife I found myself providing audio visual supports to her new company she had started with a business partner.  It was through this experience that I found myself becoming more involved in other aspects of event management. Before I knew it I had purchased her partner’s shares and became co-owner of Timewise.

Walk us through a typical day at work:

The events we manage have a focus that goes beyond creativity and décor. I dedicate time daily to work through ideas and strategies to develop each of our events. My days are very administration driven. Most of the time, I find myself on the phone or working on my computer. Client meetings and on-site delivery of events are welcome interruptions. When I am not managing projects, I am managing our business. I oversee our business development, administration, accounting, marketing and supplier relations. We have built a great team of employees who support our business. They enable us to accomplish so much more in a day.

Why are you good at what you do?

I love my work and am always looking for ways to do things better. My strong commitment to continuous improvement drives me to learn from others, to take educational programs, and to measure and evaluate everything I do.

Over the past few years I studied hard to obtain my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and Certification in Meeting Management (CMM). Both of these experiences have been very rewarding and have changed the way that we do business. The CMM process showed me a whole different way of looking at an organization’s meetings program, and at looking at our business. We invested our first decade perfecting our delivery of logistics. The next decade it will be important to focus on strategic services.

What are some of the challenges you face when seeking the perfect venue?

Many of our events require multiple function rooms, so our greatest challenge is finding a venue with appropriate space. There never seems to be a perfect venue. However, no matter what venue we utilize we can make it work.

We also find it challenging to connect with sales staff. This makes it very difficult when trying to determine availability in order to present options to our clients. Timelines for planning events are getting shorter which adds even more pressure to make timely connections.

Who are some of your notable clients?

Our list of clients consists of corporate, government, association, and educational institutions. Some of our more prominent clients include Bell, Brian Tracy, Alberta Education, Cooper B-Line, Health Canada, Heart & Stroke Foundation, State Street, and the United Way. We are thrilled with a strategic partnership we just formed to manage all meetings programs for Partnership Group – Sponsorship Connections, one of Canada’s leading sponsorship development firms.

What have been some of your biggest achievements?

I am most proud of my contributions made in developing our industry. Over the past two decades we have seen our industry emerge as a respected profession. We still have significant progress to make in implementing minimum standards and educating our meeting professionals.

Most recently, I provided leadership to our local chapter of Meeting Professionals International. My role as Chapter president was a great opportunity to develop my skills as a leader, learn about myself, and see the difference that I can help make in our local industry.  Over my two terms we saw significant growth with our membership and event attendance; both more than doubled.

What do you like best about the meetings industry?

Our industry keeps our economy moving. Without meetings and events nothing happens. I love seeing how we can support businesses to help them grow as an organization. There is nothing better than seeing their meetings program support their organization’s objectives. When they do well, we all do well.

The potential for professional and personal growth is limitless in our industry.  Meetings and events are increasing in their complexity and are requiring greater expertise. We can never know it all. No matter how much I know and understand there is always something more someone can teach me.

Venue & Supplier Profiles