September 7, 2021

Janet Dell | The Business of Meetings Podcast

Today, we are delighted to speak to a great leader in our industry!

Janet Dell, the President and COO of Freeman, joins us today to talk about people, culture, technology, and what the data Freeman collected tells them about the future of the meetings and events industry.

We hope you enjoy listening to our insightful discussion with Janet today!

Janet Dell’s bio

Janet Dell’s impressive track record, enthusiasm, and empathic leadership empower her teams to design live experiences that cultivate business relationships and create moments that matter.

As President and Chief Operating Officer, Janet leads all Freeman business operations across the globe. With expertise in global sales, process improvement, and worldwide client management, Janet has the background and the vision to guide Freeman into a new future. No matter which hat she is wearing, Janet focuses on developing opportunities for Freeman, its clients, and its people.

Janet joined Freeman in 2018 as EVP and first-ever chief growth officer. Her dual-role leadership made a tremendous impact on strategy and performance. Her efforts to refine business processes, streamline systems and adopt go-to-market strategies for a digital-first world have positioned the company for growth.

Janet Dell’s journey

Janet has a degree in Finance and Investment Banking. After college, she used technology tools to consult for various financial modeling-type businesses to help them create more value in organizations.

Those jobs led her to Marsh McLennan, where she spent the majority of her career. She helped the company transform its paper business into a technology-enabled business and get its performing team through the turmoil and change that was going on after 9/11.

A passion for transformation

Janet has a passion for transformation and people development, so she kept taking on roles that focused on transformation and helping high-performing teams get to the next level and adapt to a digital world.

Freeman

Janet had never heard of Freeman before getting a call from a recruiter to talk to her about it.

MPI

MPI (Meeting Professionals International) has been helping Janet learn and exposes her to meeting planners and their objectives to assist her in better aligning Freeman.

A passion for people

Janet believes in the human connection, and people are her passion.

A post-pandemic meetings world

Janet believes that digital is a great enabler, and it is here to stay. However, there is nothing that can replace face-to-face because people need to connect.

Digital

People are trying to be more inclusive now in all industries. Digital expands audiences, and it helps to include many more people in events. It is like a funnel to live events and is a way to ensure ongoing membership for valuable organizations like MPI. Digital also enables on-demand learning.

Surveys

Freeman regularly surveyed millions of exhibitors, organizers, attendees, and brand marketers throughout the pandemic to understand what is working and what is not. They observed that networking and commerce did not get the job done online.

A lot of work

They learned that it takes as much work to put on a digital event as it does to create a live event.

Event attendees

Although events are smaller now, the attendees are more focused, and they know what they want. More buyers and decision-makers are now showing up at events.

What Janet Dells says we can expect in the future

Freeman has a massive data set from the millions of attendees, exhibitors, organizers, and brand marketers they serve. They tracked their sentiment regarding what they needed to feel safe returning to work. According to Janet, making that information available to everybody allowed Freeman to get some crowdsourcing and let them know early on that events would start returning on a small scale in early spring.

Second thoughts

After the COVID-19 vaccine was made available, things started looking better and better for event organizers. However, after Delta and after the vaccine rates started to plateau, event organizers began having second thoughts.

People are willing to return to events

Research shows that corporate travel restrictions will be released. People will return to events if they feel they will be safe and secure while there. Some industry sectors are willing to come back sooner than others.

A challenge

It is hard for people right now because there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

Hiring and retaining talent

It is easier for companies to retain talent when they have a great culture, and everyone feels fulfilled on some level and connected to the purpose and mission of the company.

Work-life balance

Putting on an event requires a lot of hard work, and it can be stressful. So, it is essential for those involved in the events to get enough rest and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Flexibility

Janet has found that more flexible companies tend to have more committed teams.

Culture

Janet comes from a military background. Freeman operates like that too. One of the things that drew Janet to Freeman was their culture of ‘no man left behind’. Freeman also has a culture of gratitude and appreciation.

Technology

The pandemic forced people of all ages and cultures into using technology. Janet loves technology because it enables people to do better and more. She thinks that the tools that connect people and simplify our lives will be those that will be adopted naturally, in time.

Connect with Janet

On LinkedIn

Connect with Eric: On LinkedIn | On Facebook | On Instagram | Website

If you’d rather watch the video of this interview, subscribe on YouTube.

About the author 

Eric Rozenberg

For two decades, Eric Rozenberg has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and produced conferences in more than 50 countries across diverse industries. His focus is creating meetings that are not only breathtakingly memorable but which bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.

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