Spotlight on Hospitality Professionals

Are you a hospitality professional?  Do you want to be? If so, the article, “Training Tomorrow’s Professionals” is about YOU! Just a few months into retirement I was thrilled to contribute to this article published by Minnesota Meetings and Events Magazine. Now I’m even more excited to be returning to DCTC. Contact Jason Obarski,, or me, if you want to complete your educational journey and open doors to you future.  Let’s go back to school together!

All of life is a learning experience

This is the second of Mitchell Myers leadership reflections. It was an honor to share Mitchell’s educational journey at DCTC, and thrilling to watch as he builds a successful leadership career. The following quotation from Mitchell says a great deal about his philosophy of life as well as leadership.

 “All of life is a learning experience. Our lives are full of benchmarks that allow us to rise to the occasion of allowing our peers to rise, and create experiences which allow not only ourselves to thrive, but those we inspire.” 



Mitchell Myers, guest author

I have emphasized the study of management versus leadership throughout my college career. Some individuals find the two terms redundant, but I find leadership to be a very important aspect of business in a new American (and World) century. During the political season, we all hear about “income inequality.” This attaches to leadership in business. It breaks my heart when I hear people complain about income inequality and see them go after people who create jobs and innovations. In the 21st century, businesses have the opportunity to come up with new technology beyond our wildest dreams. They can lead us to a lower cost of living and lower the costs of doing business. I feel that instead of, I suppose I could say, “flower children” complaining about not getting a slice of the pie, our job as leaders in business is to help make the pie bigger, and not take from those who earned it. This requires the leadership of our elected officials to apply term limits to allow for new, local faces to emerge. Once that is complete, I believe we will see a shift in policy that is more local business-centered. To make the pie bigger, businesses and organizations of all kinds must not be resistant to change.

How do we cope with change? As the business world becomes more competitive, ideas of the past do not lead to success. Change is required for survival; hence the need for leadership. There are three ways in which leadership copes with change, according to Kotter:

  • Determine what needs to be done—set direction
  • Arrange people to accomplish the plan
  • Motivate and inspire people to do their jobs

Granted, there will be some people who just won’t budge when it comes to change. They may need to be “voted off the island” for the success of the whole, but most can be convinced through steady leadership, and standing by one’s convictions. A leader must mobilize individual commitment for change. This can be done by setting a specific, realistic vision and direction, demonstrating personal character, and engendering organizational capability. Leaders must remember to be “a part,” not “apart” from the group.

Before an individual can become a good leader, they need to become a good manager. In the 21st century, the focus has shifted from management training roles to leadership training roles. This can be lost in a single generation if it is not kept in focus. Ensuring success, in an organization’s future a leader must do the following:

  • Have realistic expectations
  • View challenges with a depth of perspective
  • Manage upward, sideways and downward
  • Network outside your department/organization or business
  • Determine the kind of Leader you want to be
  • Appeal to the needs and interests of the people you manage or lead
  • Always be an effective self-manager

If one is to know others, their learning styles, their wants and needs, one must also be able to make an analysis of his or herself. Know your limitations, and use it as an opportunity for self-improvement. Leadership is more than writing or making great speeches; it is about inspiring the hearts and mind of people in your organization, or everywhere for that matter, to do their part to move us toward new technology, communication, and wealth. We have finally come to many realizations. We have determined what leadership is, and what it takes to lead us toward new 21st-century leadership. Now the time has come for us to fight the good fight, and get a sense of the future.

As William Zinsser, a writer from the American Scholar would put it, “Joyful Noise.” Robert Henri, a painter from the 19th century, said, “Paint as a man coming over the hill singing.” That is what leaders of the 21st century must do to inspire people who may not be able to go along with their ideas. So I declare:

Leaders, lead as a person ‘coming over the hill singing. Be joyful, and articulate. Share your knowledge and love of intellectual discussion with your peers and team.

If young leaders like myself lead like as a person “coming over the hill singing,” we can inspire, create a picture in the minds of our followers, and climb the mountaintop of destiny. We all are born with talents and dreams, albeit in different conditions and upbringings. It is up to people like us, to move our cause forward. We must fight the good fight, to move humanity in a better direction. As President Ronald Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address: “We are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams.” Also, “I will fight cheerfully, I will endure, and do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle, depended on me alone.” That is what I will become after my graduation: a fighter for true 21st-century leadership, “coming over the hill singing” and inspiring any team or organization I am a part of. Young leaders like myself will need to come together to resolve the problems that now confront us.

Years may pass, and days may go by, but steady leadership in times of change must be solid and have a strong resolve. The rights of humankind still ring clear. We must be led by leaders that believe in liberty and self-actualization. We have a great opportunity to move our businesses and community organizations forward to a new horizon- a horizon that brings us ethical leaders, a constant searching for knowledge, with the growth of businesses and innovation never seen before in the history of the mankind. We can do this, one leader at a time.

Managing Teams. Cambridge, MA: Center for Quality Management, 1995. Print.

“Honor President Reagan’s Legacy.” Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Kreitner, Robert. Foundations of Management: Basics and Best Practices. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.




Hospitality and Event Management Alumni Share Their Successes

I asked an alumni of the Hospitality and Event Management program to detail how her events had changed.  Here’s her response regarding an event she did shortly after graduation. She has since gone on to develop larger programs and secure a great place for herself in the business and hospitality industries. Her opening statement says it all!

Thank you, Dawn!

In previous years I just went through the motions and followed instructions given to me by the hotel staff.  This year I felt like I was the one in control (somewhat).  I still have a long way to go, but it was definitely a different air. 
  1. Preparing an emergency plan and working with our own Risk Management Department to get the appropriate paperwork on insurance issues (never knew I should).
  2. Working with all of the presenters or shareholders of the meeting, to have meetings on the progress of the meeting and the contents of the program.  This was a chore – we live in silos around here, but I wanted to make sure that everyone was an owner in the event and it was very clear to everyone how the meeting was going to flow.  Previously it was only one person who was in charge and all others were somewhat (or more like absolutely) in the dark about the entire event.
  3. Making sure that the “Welcome” speaker announced where the emergency exits were, where the restrooms were, and where the staging area was in case of an emergency.
  4. Getting emergency information from our attendees – before we just invited them!  This year I made sure that all contact information was readily available in the emergency plan that I and corporate had a copy of.
  5. Working with catering on the buffets served in conjunction with other events at the facility – saved money.
  6. Working with catering to serve the lunch desserts at the afternoon break -saved money.
  7. Insisting on a pre-convention meeting to make sure I knew who all the players were at the hotel and how to reach them.
  8. Insisting on a post-convention meeting to make sure I completely understood all the charges (which is where I found the screen fee.  The AV rentals were not included in the initial contract.  I purchased a “package” which included a free standing screen because the screen in the meeting room was in a corner at an angle.  The day we had round table discussions we used the ceiling screen instead of the free-standing screen because of the riser in the middle of the room, and boom – charged!!)
  9. Making all of my own centerpieces and using other materials we have on hand to use throughout the event, such as table covers we use at trade shows I used on the buffet tables (you taught us to be creative!)
  10. Making sure that I had an AV technician on-site during the time we had our keynote speaker and presenters.  He was worth his weight in gold.  I never had one in the past (actually didn’t know I could!!) and will never go without one in the future.
  11. Finding a linen rental company that I could afford so our awards banquet was an event they would remember!!

Crazy Success

Following alumni of the DCTC Hospitality and Event programs is a summer passion for me.  Tiffany Vickaryous is now Director of Food and Beverage at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND.  For readers who are unfamiliar with the Alerus Center, think Stadium, Arena, Conference Center, and Home of UND Football.

Tiffany is a hospitality veteran.  She earned her stars even before college graduation, with her position of Special Projects Manager and Director of Sales at Ovations Food Services. In a 2011 article titled, Organized Chaos, Tiffany shared details about her career. I especially like how she described her love of “organized chaos.”

“The day oftiffany the event is my favorite part. It’s always crazy and something is always happening. There are so many moving parts. After it’s over, the last thing you want to hear is someone calling your name. It’s organized chaos—and I love it!” — Tiffany Vickaryous


Rondi Pacheco is Making Every Minute Count


Rondi Pacheco is having quite a year!  She completed the trifecta of education — degrees in accounting, law, and meeting-event management. The latter degree, earned at DCTC, was instrumental in what she describes as, “finding my true calling.”

For Rondi, a self-described “idealist”, promoting other people and their talents is part of who she is.  Equally important to her is volunteerism.  In her words, “I’ve been given some special gifts and talents and I need to share them with my community.” Her infectious energy and love of people are all part this sparkly package that her native-Hawaii is sharing with Minnesota.  Those of us who know Rondi, chuckle when she introduces herself as an introvert.  Yes, she loves to dance, sing, read comic books and is in a bowling league, but few would categorize her as an introvert. She lives her belief that, “I don’t have a lot of time here on this earth, so I better make every minute count.”

At the recent Best of Minnesota 2016, Rondi was MNME7832_0617_Bestof2016Awards_RN_0004inducted into the Minnesota Meetings and Events Hall of Fame and honored with the coveted “Up-and-Coming Meeting Professional” award.

It was a magical evening with great friends and entertainment.  Rondi was visiting her family in Hawaii and asked me to accept the award on her behalf.  The number of DCTC program alumni in the audience that night made it feel much like a DCTC-alumni reunion.

A few months ago, Rondi was awarded Leader of the Month by the MPI Minnesota Chapter. Rondi volunteers with MPI on the team that manages the organization’s social media accounts and promotes activities on social media platforms. During her time in that role, MPI has seen engagement and page visits increase exponentially on Facebook.  In fact, during one week, MPI MN experienced a 375% increase in page visits and 47% increase in engagement.  The nomination for this award describes Rondi succinctly: “Rondi has been an absolute JOY to work with; flexible, responsible and really stays on top of her game.”

Rondi’s leadership and dedication to the industry are best summarized by a statement she made recently for the pressselfie pics at MPI: “The Meeting/Events/Hospitality industry is about providing service to others.  It is an industry where individuals cater to and care for the needs of our clients and guests.  This is an industry that thrives on creativity and inspirational genius.  My personal passion of helping and guiding individuals to create their own unique experience is what motivates me to blaze a path for others coming behind me.  I want to share my experiences so that others will not fall and flounder but instead grow and prosper.  This is why I love this industry and will continue to share this love for years to come.”


Design for Success: Embassy Chefs Met the Challenge! You can too!

haiti-serving-the-winning-dishWhat challenge, you ask?  Seamlessly integrating components of an event is always a challenge; even more so when logistics, procurement, stakeholder objectives, marketing, and public relations meet.  This slide show from the 9th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge shows the magic that happens when synergy meets success. Thank you, BizBash and PCMA for excellent reporting. Students at DCTC’s Hospitality and Event Management program learn all of this and more as part of their journey.  Together we make your success happen. One simple course, a certificate, or degree can change your life, amp up your career and earn accolades for your organization!

Learn about stakeholder objectives in SMGT 1160.

Explore procurement and financial aspects in SMGT 1160, 1161, and 1162.

Logistics range from event space, traffic flow, signage, floral, audio-visual, communication and just a few hundred other items.  Start with SMGT 1160, 1161, 1162, 1680, and 1696 . Then move on to SMGT 1166 to create WOW in the exciting world of event design.

Want to know more about marketing and public relations?  Check out SMGT 1176.

All of the components come together in SMGT 1172.  Don’t get caught up in the small details and neglect the big picture.  After all, a successful hospitality event manager is a project manager at the core!

Achieving success is an adventure! Learn about your adventure by email from Marki Struensee, or contact me on LinkedIn.