by Morton D. Rosenbaum | August 01, 2005

Emily Whooley"It is really satisfying to see everyone reaching out and saying they need our help."

Emmy Whooley, based in Everett, Mass., has been the sole meeting manager for Tacoma, Wash.-based investment analysis firm Russell/Mellon for 13 years. She enjoyed her coffee (“Starbucks, definitely decaf”) from a home office littered with children and R/M-logoed baseball hats.

How did you start your meeting planning career? I came into Mellon as a trainer, instructing new hires about stocks and bonds and derivatives, mostly very boring stuff. My job as a planner started when they asked me to add meals to my training sessions. 

Do you ever get nostalgic for the old training? Never. Meeting planning is far more exciting. No matter how many times you do one meeting, it’s always a new place with new people. And obviously, there are always new challenges.

Such as? Oh, the weather. Just last fall, we had a hurricane at Hilton Head. It was definitely a downer, but we actually ended up pulling a great meeting out of it. No matter how well-traveled our clients are, they still enjoy every destination. They like their food; they like their giveaways.

What’s been the best giveaway so far? I could tell you the worst one. We had these terrific folding chairs to give out the kind you take to a concert or soccer game. We ended up having the conference the February after 9/11, though, and with the new carry-on restrictions nobody was going to take one of those home on an airplane. We had to give everyone a picture of the chair and then mail it to their home. They really did all love the chairs, and they liked having them mailed, but the picture that was unfortunate.