Melissa is a Senior Event Manager at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
What is your morning routine?
I get ready very quickly in the morning. I scan my emails, and when it’s not winter weather, I try to take the 40-minute walk to work. It wakes me up, gives me fresh air and allows me time to think about the day ahead.
Tell us about your career path.
I started young by watching my friend’s mother plan weddings, and I would assist her with some events. During university, my first job was with Melissa Andre Events working specifically on weddings. Since then I’ve worked in several different areas of the industry, from the venue side, to the client side, to planning weddings and corporate events. I currently work full time at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and I’m grateful to have been promoted twice within a year. I also plan weddings and social events part time through ‘MelMarie Events,’ which allows me to release my creative juices.
Trying different angles of the industry helped me gain a lot of experience. Every job I’ve had made me question if I was going in the right direction, but in retrospect every job taught me a new skill set or challenged me in some way. I’m excited to see where my career will take me.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
I think a key challenge women face in this industry is work life balance. As an aspiring event planner, I received feedback from multiple people implying it was a great career choice, but not the best if you wanted things like marriage and children due to the scheduling demands. I’m not there yet so I can’t speak to that, but I also think many other jobs aren’t stuck to a 9 to 5 expectation anymore. You could also choose to work in the corporate event space, which allows for slightly more balance as opposed to weddings, where most of your hours are likely during evenings and weekends.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
I’m still learning myself, but I’d say it’s important to have goals without thinking your life must pan out in one exact way. Focus on building the required experience and skill set. The journey is where the magic happens, and that’s how you can end up in a much better place than you even expected.
Event planning is very rewarding, but it’s not glamorous. I meet people who say, “Oh, what a fun job you have!” and although it is fun, it’s always on the list of “Top 5 Most Stressful Jobs” for a reason. The job comes with high pressure, short timelines and the need to be fluid in any situation. You can plan every detail until you’re blue in the face, but nothing can prevent those last-minute curveballs you’ll have to deal with at a moment’s notice. With that in mind, if you’re enthusiastic about gaining experience and willing to work hard, it can be a very satisfying career.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
Event planning is not an industry where you can go home and turn it off, but work-life balance is important to me. I believe disconnecting is beneficial because it allows me to get inspired and come back more refreshed and productive. Personally, I work on social events and weddings on the side, recently got accepted into the Young Professionals Committee for the Ronald McDonald House, and aspire to start the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. Sometimes it feels like I take on too much, but this is also the time to ‘lean in.’
What inspires you?
The final product. The satisfaction I get from the seeing the final picture come together after all the long hours, last minute stresses, and moving parts. When the planning comes to life, it overwhelms me how lucky I am to play a part in such important moments and memories. It’s what makes it all worth it, time and time again.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
Simple things that give me inspiration and joy: time spent with my loved ones, exploring new spots in the city, discovering unique designs, fresh flowers…and brunch with mimosas for sure.