by By Kaylee Hultgren | April 01, 2009

 jgonzalez"I try to keep my family involved with what I'm doing, so they can see why I put in so many hours."

John Gonzalez, the new event manager for the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, began his career as a mail clerk at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1997 and steadily worked his way up to managing large-scale events at the center. During that time he also served two tours in the U.S. Army in the Middle East and still found time to help raise two children.

What is one surprising thing you've learned over the course of your career? From the beginning, the industry struck me as something I really liked. But I thought event coordinating was the same for all venues. After moving from the Wortham Center, a sister venue of the GRB, I realized that coordinating convention center events is very different. Three or four months into it, I knew that I wanted to keep going with this.

How do you make time for your family? My kids, now 7 and 12 years old, love the convention center, so depending on the nature of the event, I'm able to bring them there and walk them around when it's slow. The hardest thing is the hours, but they've been very understanding. I try to keep my family involved with what I'm doing, so they can see why I put in so many hours there.

Has serving overseas helped your job here in the United States? I feel that my time overseas greatly enhanced my leadership skills, values and goals. I believe in building a strong camaraderie with my team and would never ask them to do anything I have not done. My time overseas made me believe in leading by example.