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Heather VanderVoet

Senior event coordinator, Hamilton Convention Centre
Graduate of Hospitality - Hotel and Restaurant Operations Co-op (2017) and Event Management (2018)

Current role and career path

I currently work at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s as the senior event coordinator where I detail conferences, tradeshows, meetings and conventions for the facility. I work one on one with the clients to assist in arranging their food and beverage order and set up details, as well as coordinate AV, power and show services details. I create banquet event orders that outline these details, host internal staff meetings and external client meetings, and then prepare all final invoices.

I started this role within Carmen’s Group back in January 2019 but, before that, I was a floor supervisor at one of their other properties, Lakeview, where I executed two to three weddings a weekend, working closely with the couple to ensure their special day was everything they dreamed of.

I’ve also worked at Vineland Estates Winery, serving small, intimate weddings in their Carriage House, and in their wine shop selling their fabulous wine and interacting with a variety of different customers.

Influences and inspiration

I initially when to Niagara College for Restaurant/Hotel Operations and then after graduating made a slight pivot to the events industry by enrolling in the Event Management post-graduate program. I’ve always loved the hospitality industry, but the events side of things was new and interesting to me and felt more specific to how I had envisioned my career path.

I had also had the opportunity to work a couple large conferences with my aunt who plans events and absolutely fell in love with the corporate/conference world. I love the thrill of seeing an event come to life after months of planning and being able to work with so many different people, keeps my day-to-day job interesting and keeps me on my toes.

I’ve made it my own by bringing my own personality to the table; I am easy to work with, I communicate well and am an asset to any team, and I think my success in this industry is owed to my hard work and passion for people and events.

Standout NC experience

Niagara College played a huge part in shaping the beginning of my career. It gave me the skills and confidence to head out into the world and receive a full-time job within a year of graduating. – Heather VanderVoet

Niagara College played a huge part in shaping the beginning of my career. It gave me the skills and confidence to head out into the world and receive a full-time job within a year of graduating.

I had co-op placements in both programs which proved to be super beneficial. My first co-op was at Trius Winery, one of the busiest wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, so I learned how to thrive in a fast-paced environment while dealing with hundreds of customers in a day. My second co-op was for the Event Management program where I worked at a non-profit organization and helped plan three events for them. This co-op helped prepare me for more of the administrative tasks that come up in the events industry, gave me insight as to what it’s like working at a non-profit organization as well taught me how to work well in an office environment.

I also had hands on experience planning an event for my Event Management program while volunteering at the four other student-run and organized events. I learned a lot of valuable lessons during this time that I was able to take with me in my career. I believe these experiences were crucial to my success and helped mold me into the professional I am today., etc).

Words of wisdom

For someone interested in embarking on a career in the world of events, I would encourage them to volunteer their time at a variety of different events before committing to a segment of the industry. I had the privilege of working a variety of different events before committing to my full-time job at the Convention Centre. I worked weddings, corporate, social and non-profit and it helped to narrow down which path I was most interested in.

I’m sure I will change my mind again in the future but at least I entered the industry with an idea of where I wanted to end up since I had tried so many different things already.

I believe that time management and interpersonal skills have been critical to my success so I would recommend that you figure out what ways work best for you to stay organized and on top of all your daily tasks and learn how to master the art of customer service and you’ll be just fine.

A lot of things in the industry, you will learn as you go but if you have a good attitude and enjoy working with people, you’ll already have a leg up.