by Dan McHugh, Director – Conference and Event Services Office (CESO)
When I first heard Maximizer was my number two theme I thought I was being cast in the next Transformer movie. Upon further investigation I realized, according to Gallup, that my Maximizer strength can be used as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence and that I seek to transform something strong into something superb. I interpret this to mean I’m always looking to makes things better or to be the best they can be. I want to take areas of my life and career to the next level. Quality is important to me and I seek out ways to ensure both myself and those around me are striving to be the best, or do the best we can. This drive isn’t about competition, it’s not about being better than someone or something else, but rather about having high expectations and striving to meet those expectations even when the deck may seem stacked against me/us.
Thinking about my role here at BSU as the Director of the Conference and Event Services Office (CESO) I see how I utilize this talent daily. As Director of CESO I have the privilege of overseeing 13 full-time professional staff, 3 graduate assistants and close to 100 undergraduate students. We manage over 20,000 event occurrences each year on campus, which include faculty, staff and student programs as well as external client meetings/events and conferences. I take this responsibility extremely seriously because at the end of the day, every success and failure reflects upon me, our staff, the department, my division and ultimately the University as a whole. We are in a service-driven role; therefore if either myself or any one of those working with me doesn’t deliver quality, we’ve let those depending on us down (which can result in a poorly executed event and/or lost revenue in the case of an external paying customer).
I don’t usually quote movies other than Caddyshack and Better Off Dead, however, for a person with Strategic and Maximizer as his top two talents and working in the event planning industry, I found H. Jackson Brown Jr’s quote “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today” from the movie P.S. I Love You to be spot on (I’ll deny ever having seen this movie if anyone asks). Preplanning helps lessen the opportunity for issues or failure. As a department we preach this both within the office and with those clients we work with.
My quest to ensure quality, to train our staff (professional and student) at the highest level is for no reason other than to strive to offer the best possible service and ensure a successful event from beginning to end. It’s not about competition or bragging rights; it’s simply having higher expectations and expecting the biggest results. It’s easy to simply go through the motions and just do your job. It’s more challenging…and rewarding, to expect excellence. My insistence on constant feedback and assessment helps feed my need to ensure we offer the best possible service. If I’m not open to both criticism and praise then how do I get better? If I’m not honest with my employees about their quality and quantity of production, how do they get better? If I don’t listen to my customers/clients about their experiences, how can we continue to do what we do well and address the areas holding us back? We can’t be the best if we don’t invest the time into hiring and training and we can’t get better if we don’t continue to assess and adapt.
We continue to adapt to the changing landscape at BSU. As the University grows, so do expectations. Because of this we’ll conduct SWOT analysis to help better gauge the departments Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (as well as those as our other service providers). Over the past eight years we’ve utilized the results of all of our assessment tools to continue to invest in the areas that will ensure our success. When feedback showed that it was taking too long to process reservations, we revamped our entire process and added staffing to better manage the process. With an effort to support a growing trend in night and weekend programming, we extended our hours to better staff according to the needs. We, along with the Registrar’s Office, struggled for years with outdated reservation software. We fought for and ultimately purchased new event management software that revolutionized how the campus requests space (both academic and otherwise). These are just a few examples from the past few years where we put the time into ensure we took our service to the next level and it has shown a tremendous return on investment with customer satisfaction.
BSU often utilizes the tagline Expect more, Achieve more. As a person with Maximizer as his number two talent, those words resonate with me. If you don’t strive for excellence it’s difficult to achieve it, if we don’t have higher expectations we’ll never be the best.