Welcome to our newest feature- 5 Minutes with a Member!
In this series, we’ll highlight member experiences, advice, and expertise so you can get to know your fellow members and be inspired by their insight. For our first installment, we spoke to ISES NY Metro Member Allison Kastner.
It’s great to meet you, too! I knew from a young age that I wanted to be in the special events industry. I graduated from Lynn University in 2009, where I majored in Hospitality Management and served as Secretary of the hospitality club. My first job after college was at the Roslyn Claremont Hotel as a front desk clerk and it was there that I gained some invaluable customer service experience.
Not long after, I moved from Long Island to NYC (the best place to be for special events!), and took a slight detour, working as an office assistant for NY law firm, Otterbourg, Steindler, & Rosen. Even though it was outside my field, it was still a great opportunity for me, as I was able to gain corporate and meeting planning experience. But I wasn’t able to use my creative side and pursue special events as I’d always dreamed, so I decided to make the leap into the world of freelance event planning.
Currently, I’m working with a company called Red Elephant, which specializes in cultural weddings, as well as corporate events. It’s been amazing! I’m also excited to be working with a company called K.I.M Media. The name stands for “Keep it Moving” where I’m learning the ins and outs of weddings, which I’ve been consulting for and producing from beginning to end.
What has your involvement with the ISES New York Metro Chapter been like?
I have been a member of ISES NY Metro chapter since October 2011. When I began attending networking events, I became acquainted with the board members who offered great advice with open arms and helped me get involved. The experience has been nothing but great so far and I constantly try to absorb everything ISES has to offer. Being involved in ISES is important to me because it’s a great way to increase my knowledge, advance my career, and help new members by returning the helping hand I am so often given.
You are the 2012 recipient of the SEARCH Foundation Scholarship – congrats! As part of the scholarship, you were lucky enough to attend the ISES Event World conference this summer. What was that experience like?
My Experience at ISES Event World greatly exceeded my expectations. From the start of the seminar to the finish, everything was “over the top,” thoroughly planned and well thought out for the attendees’ benefit. Of course, in the special events industry that should be expected, but the challenges ISES must have had in order to wow over 500 event professionals from all around the world were, in my opinion, greatly achieved.
What are some of the highlights from Event World you want to share with the Chapter?
The opening general session began with a performance by the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders (so great!), which led to a keynote by event professional Cheryl Cecchetto, who spoke about her incredible work with the Grammy’s and the Oscars.
The second general session featured speaker Roland Mesnier, Former White House Chef. The lecture was inspiring, and it was really interesting to hear some inside details of the White House parties.
All the educational sessions taught the most up-to-date technology and future trends being used in special events, while the latest social media applications were used to engage attendees. ISES even made an Event World application for attendees to build their schedules and organize what speakers they could see. They also had all speakers’ presentations available for additional notes, or if missed, because there were so many educational options available. All the educational speakers and panelists were very professional and knowledgeable.
The Welcome Party allowed everyone to enjoy the full Texas experience. The minute we arrived there were bulls and cowboys on horses outside the venue, live armadillos inside and a “honky tonk” line dance to join. The next night, the SEARCH Foundation held a fundraising gala, and it was full of great entertainment and tasty food. It was very nice to get to meet ISES professionals from other chapters worldwide.
That sounds amazing! What did winning the SEARCH Foundation Scholarship mean to you?
Everything! Working in the special events industry has been something I knew I wanted to do even before I studied Hospitality Management. I graduated from college in 2009, during the economic crisis. Like many professionals and students at the time, the recession held me back from taking the path I strove to find in college. But with some really hard work, I’ve finally started moving forward and will continue to push toward the goals I’ve set for myself.
That’s why the SEARCH Scholarship means so much to me: because it shows me that these efforts are really paying off and inspires me to continue to pursue a career in the events industry. After all, without the scholarship, I would not have been able to go to Event World, and I am so grateful for that experience and all the people I’ve met. The SEARCH Foundation is something I fully support because it assists event professionals in crisis and education. So, I’m not only thrilled to receive the SEARCH scholarship, but proud of what that Scholarship represents.
Thank you for the candid insight Allison. We look forward to hearing about all your successes in the future and are thrilled that you have chosen to be a part of the ISES New York Metro Chapter!