Today we are talking with TISOH alumna Kathleen Laming from Las Vegas, Nevada. Kathleen received her Executive Diploma in Hospitality Operations with an emphasis in Event Management from the International School of Hospitality (TISOH) in 2017. After graduation, Kathleen received a promotion to Production Coordinator, and eventually landed as a Project Manager with Encore Event Technologies in September 2019. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, she was placed on furlough in March 2020. Never one to sit still for long, Kathleen decided to put her hospitality skills to task when she was asked by a high school acquaintance to help launch a start-up company. Kathleen joined LinkedHelpers in July 2020, a virtual assistant start-up company, and they are already up and running with a growing client list. Here we ask Kathleen to fill us in on how her education and experience helped her on her path.
TISOH: Kathleen, thank you for joining us today. Congratulations on your new venture. We have so many questions to ask, but I want to start from the beginning. You received your Executive Diploma in Hospitality Operations with an emphasis on Event Management. You took courses in Conference Management & Event Planning, Event Design & Production, Hospitality Human Resources, and Hospitality Leadership & Supervision. Shortly after graduation you received a promotion at Encore Event Technologies where you were promoted from a clerk position to a production coordinator. Then a year later, you received another promotion and another one the year after that. Tell us more about this trajectory that you were on and how you got there.
KATHLEEN: I was working at Encore in the Business Center as a front desk clerk and I had a lot of extra time so I thought this would be a really good time to go back to school. I was pregnant during my time at TISOH and I missed my graduation because I went into labor that day. After I had my baby I knew I needed to get a promotion so when I went back to work, I talked to my supervisor about my classes at TISOH and told them I was interested in doing more so they moved me into production. Every year after that I received another promotion and eventually became a Project Manager. The classes gave me knowledge and confidence to be successful in my work.
TISOH: When everything closed in March due to COVID-19, many people thought “give it a month or two and we’ll be back to business soon.” But then April came, followed by May and June and so on. At what point, did you begin to put serious thought into this new venture? Did you ever see yourself becoming an entrepreneur?
KATHLEEN: No, becoming an entrepreneur was never something I had considered before. I was always that person that took care of operations. Give me a task and I will take care of it, but I never considered becoming an entrepreneur. In March, when everything closed, I had just returned from a month-long vacation in Asia. So, when I was placed on furlough, it just felt like another vacation. That is when I decided to join a networking group called Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL). It is a nonprofit that connects Asian American professionals. Through ACEL, I reconnected with my high school friend Janine Balentin. Janine had just started the virtual assistant business, but she was more sales than operations. She is a great salesperson, but she was using WhatsApp for everything and was feeling overwhelmed. I told her I wanted to help her get it off the ground.
TISOH: What classes at TISOH do you think benefitted you most in your role as Project Manager and now as partner for a start-up?
KATHLEEN: All of them. With the event planning and design portion they literally had you start from scratch. You start with an objective and then TISOH shows you what steps you need to even start. From there, how do you manage everything? It is all connected. With LinkedHelpers, we had to define the objectives such as how do we get more people to read our blogs, and how do we get more people to like our Facebook page and social media platforms. We had to find a way to put everything in writing so that it was not all just thoughts over coffee. If you do not organize and document, you can lose important ideas. That is where Trello came in. I did not use it until I started working at Encore but it is a great app to document, organize and share steps with clients so everyone can communicate effectively and there are no surprises.
The Hospitality Human Resources and Hospitality Leadership & Supervision classes at TISOH helped with project management, such as how to work with employees and how to react when things do not go the right way. It seems like a small part, but it makes you understand that employees have feelings too and they need to know where to go when they have a question or problem. When you are building a new company, you need to create a foundation. I told Janine we needed to create a leadership and a company culture that worked well because if you do not have that, it is hard to retain employees. If you have a high turnover rate, it is hard to get things done. TISOH also taught me how to neutralize situations where the boss is asking for something, as bosses often do, and employees that become stressed as a result.
At TISOH, we had the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and with different personalities. It is a unique opportunity to be in a classroom setting and to be able to see the world through someone else’s point of view. We had a German student in one of our classes and even her presentation style was different from everyone else.
TISOH: Tell us more about your new company. What are your services and who are your clients?
KATHLEEN: LinkedHelpers offers virtual assistants to help for when you are feeling overwhelmed. We can help by managing everything from scheduling appointments, to answering emails, sales, and even bookkeeping. We help clients with projects big and small. This allows business owners to focus on the things they do well and allows them to source out what they do not want to do or do not have the time to do. We offer customized plans to fit every business’s needs. Whatever you need help with, we are going to be the person to lean on.
TISOH: What would you say to someone who is considering going to TISOH?
KATHLEEN: Right now, is the perfect time because everything is slow in the events industry. Everything is going to pick up again. Many people are leaving their jobs to go to different industries since our industry is not open right now. But when we do open, there is going to be a massive hiring. A lot of people will have moved on to the next thing in their life and there will be a lot of open spots. Going to school from home gives you something to do. Makes you wake up and gets you ready for when the world does come back. Now is the time.
At TISOH, The International School of Hospitality, in Las Vegas, NV, we offer world-class, industry-leading programs to train the next generation of Meeting and Event Planner Professionals. Students at TISOH receive one-on-one individualized attention from professional faculty who have true industry experience. TISOH offers a Diploma in Hospitality Operations, which is a great way to gain a full spectrum of the industry along the core skills that will boost your resume. With options for concentrating in Conference Management and Event Planning, Hotel Operations, or Wedding Coordination & Design, you will be able to customize a career path that is right for you. Graduates of TISOH’s programs enjoy extensive career placement services, and TISOH boasts an 85% placement rate for diploma graduates.
If you are ready to take the next step towards becoming an event and conference manager or if you want to start your own business even, call TISOH at 702-602-9689. You can speak with our helpful and friendly admissions representatives, who are always available to discuss your career options, and will even help you begin the enrollment process. Why wait? Call TISOH today!