Catching Up With the Original Class of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties

When PCMA launched the 20 in Their Twenties program in 2014, the thinking was simple: Don’t delay recognizing the brightest minds in business events until they have decades of experience under their belts. Instead, the PCMA Education Foundation, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Austin Convention Center wanted to give the rising stars in the meetings and events industry early recognition to fuel their career growth. Ryan Barth Ryan Barth, CMP 2019: Client Solutions Manager, Freeman, in Indianapolis, Indiana 2014: Sales Manager, Visit Indy Indianapolis, in Indianapolis, Indiana Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career? It’s interesting to see all of the mergers and acquisitions in our industry. I believe this will propel travel and tourism forward and add legitimacy to the meetings industry. How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career? It allowed me to surround myself with a like-minded group of hardworking and intelligent professionals. Working with people like that only makes you better and gives you more passion for your job. If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be? Stay the course. It will all pay off in the end. Casey Carignan Casey Carignan 2019: Meeting and event planner at Exact Sciences Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin 2014: Meetings and events coordinator at Lia Sophia in Illinois Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career? The biggest surprises are just how quickly technology evolves and changes within the event industry. I’m also pleasantly surprised that sustainability is becoming more prevalent in the events industry, and I truly hope this trend continues to improve! How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career?  By being a part of the 20 in Their Twenties class, it has been a great conversation starter and also an item I really highlight on my resume. I definitely feel like it gives me and other 20 in Their Twenties alumni a leg up in the industry when competing against other candidates for a job position! If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be? My advice to my younger self would be to go for my CMP as soon as eligible. I continued to put it off as I didn’t make it a priority and that is a regret I have. But, the good news is that I am scheduled to take the CMP exam at the end of November!

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20 in Their 20s alumni

When PCMA launched the 20 in Their Twenties program in 2014, the thinking was simple: Don’t delay recognizing the brightest minds in business events until they have decades of experience under their belts. Instead, the PCMA Education Foundation, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Austin Convention Center wanted to give the rising stars in the meetings and events industry early recognition to fuel their career growth.


PCMA 20 in Their Twenties alumni

Ryan Barth

Ryan Barth, CMP

2019: Client Solutions Manager, Freeman, in Indianapolis, Indiana

2014: Sales Manager, Visit Indy Indianapolis, in Indianapolis, Indiana

Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career?

It’s interesting to see all of the mergers and acquisitions in our industry. I believe this will propel travel and tourism forward and add legitimacy to the meetings industry.

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career?

It allowed me to surround myself with a like-minded group of hardworking and intelligent professionals. Working with people like that only makes you better and gives you more passion for your job.

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay the course. It will all pay off in the end.


20 in Their 20s alumni

Casey Carignan

Casey Carignan

2019: Meeting and event planner at Exact Sciences Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin

2014: Meetings and events coordinator at Lia Sophia in Illinois

Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career?

The biggest surprises are just how quickly technology evolves and changes within the event industry. I’m also pleasantly surprised that sustainability is becoming more prevalent in the events industry, and I truly hope this trend continues to improve!

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career? 

By being a part of the 20 in Their Twenties class, it has been a great conversation starter and also an item I really highlight on my resume. I definitely feel like it gives me and other 20 in Their Twenties alumni a leg up in the industry when competing against other candidates for a job position!

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be?

My advice to my younger self would be to go for my CMP as soon as eligible. I continued to put it off as I didn’t make it a priority and that is a regret I have. But, the good news is that I am scheduled to take the CMP exam at the end of November!


20 in Their 20s alumni

Shawn Cheng

Shawn Cheng

2019: Project manager at MCI Group Canada

2014: Team lead at Experience Vancouver

Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career? 

I think the biggest surprise for me was how diverse this industry is. Business events have many faces and categories, and so many stakeholders are involved. There has not been a single moment I feel I know enough since I entered this industry. Actually, the longer I’m in this industry, the less I feel I know. Learning every day.

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career? 

It helps me connect with people that I probably wouldn’t [have known] if not for the program. It also gave me a chance to see amazing works that so many amazing event professionals around the world did, and it makes me want to be better. The best part is that I built some friendships that I know will last a long time.

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be even more curious.


20 in Their 20s alumni

Rachel Dillion

Rachel Dillion, CMP

2019: Associate Vice President, Meetings & Education at Sentergroup, an MCI Group company, in Chicago

2014: Director of Meetings, Sentergroup, in Chicago

Have there been any big surprises in the past five years?

I am not sure I could have predicted the many hats I would wear or responsibilities I would bear over the years. I consider myself much more than a meeting planner and have loved being able to be a well-rounded association expert for my clients. On another note, the explosion of technology in the industry has been fun to watch, while still recognizing there is so much more room for growth. I can’t wait to see what meetings look like in 20 years and how best practices evolve to keep pace with new trends.

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career? 

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other young, driven professionals and it helped to show me the true breadth of the meetings industry. I have been able to rely on these colleagues for random industry questions, feedback on vendors, and more. Plus, it’s fun to catch up with my fellow class at Convening Leaders each year!

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Lead with YES!” If you start from that positive place, the details are more apt to fall in line and you will be surprised at what you can achieve.


PCMA 20 in Their Twenties alumni

Mindy Reinitz

Mindy Reinitz, CMP

2019: Manager, Conferences & Meetings, American Health Care Association/ National Center for Assisted Living, in Washington, D.C.

2014: Conference Manager, Consortium for School Networking, in Washington, D.C.

Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career? 

I think being involved with PCMA and a part of the meetings community has really reduced the number of surprises. I am able to learn about industry-wide challenges from experienced professionals, long before it might affect one of my meetings.

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career? 

Being a part of the 20 in Their Twenties has provided a community of peers and mentors to meet up with at events or go to with questions. We can learn from each other’s experience to make the best choices in our own career.

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. You have decades to reach your long-term career goals. In the meantime, be sure to balance your work life with spending time with friends, family, and perusing other hobbies, in order to avoid burnout.


20 in Their 20s alumni

Kathleen Smith

Kathleen Smith

2019: Co-founder and Principal Consultant at MarketingTeam.io in Louisville, Kentucky

2014: Marketing Manager at etech events in Orlando, Florida

Have there been any big surprises in the first five years of your career?

Getting recruited to work for a high profile startup and moving from Orlando to San Francisco was a pretty big surprise, but it opened the door for me to learn about what it takes to take a company from inception to acquisition. Because I took that risk to uproot my life and try something new, I discovered a passion for business building that I didn’t know I had, and now I have a business helping other businesses do the same.

How did being part of the 20 in Their Twenties class help your career?

We tend to have a “pay your dues” culture where recognition comes later in a career — even when you’ve had success early on. So for me, the validation of receiving an honor like that was feedback that I was on the right track. It pushed me to keep moving forward with the same enthusiasm and energy.

If you could travel back through time to give the younger you one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be more willing to speak up, and that’s especially important for young women to hear. When you’re just starting out in your career, you feel like you should listen and absorb from more experienced professionals. But you can have powerful ideas just the same as anyone else. You are the only person that can make sure you’re heard.


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