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Q&A: Karen Chupka, IAEE Woman of Achievement Award winner

Chupka is senior vice president of International CES and does corporate business strategy for Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

What did winning the Woman of Achievement Award at IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum mean to you?

ECN 042015_POM_IAEE_Karen ChupkaI was thrilled and honored to win the IAEE 2015 Woman of Achievement Award. I have one of the coolest jobs in the world – producing the International CES and the inaugural International CES Asia next month in Shanghai – and the fact that key organizations like IAEE recognize me for work that I love doing is just extra special. We have an amazing team [who] works year-round on our events, and I’m lucky to work on a team where we strive every day to make the impossible possible.

How was the IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum this year, and what does it mean for women?

This year’s forum, which sold out with more than 150 attendees, was a major success. It focused on topics that are unique to women. Claire Shipman, regular contributor to “Good Morning America,” and Leadership Facilitator and bestselling author Valorie Burton, gave great presentations on building confidence and being better executives. The event inspired many new ideas, and I was excited to see that it was attended by women at all different stages of their careers. It’s important that we continue to encourage and support women in the industry and provide resources for them to learn and grow from. Events like this one have helped me get to where I am today. I thank IAEE for putting on a great event, and I hope that it can serve as an inspiration for other industries looking to grow the presence of women in their fields.

How have you demonstrated leadership over the years?

Much of my career has been spent on creating new programs for both International CES and CEA.  This includes:

  • Finding ways to build new communities within both the show and the association
  • Being open to new ideas and news ways of doing business
  • Creating new initiatives or experiences at CES and inspiring other shows to grow their respective industries.

I’m currently serving as director on the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) board, which represents one of the most diverse, influential groups within the industry. CEIR board directors are selected by CEIR members to guide the strategic efforts of the organization including ways to reach the next generation of leaders

This coming June, I will speak at the Kellen Conference, a forum for association leaders, as part of the “Executive Panel Discussion,” which will explore how leading associations are using networks to raise awareness, advance their mission and grow revenue.

What visions and strategies for International CES did you bring to fruition?

  • Each year, we meet with representatives from the various unions who will work on our show to thank them for creating a positive experience for our exhibitors. Their members are the ones who have the most interaction with our show, and it is important for them to know that we see them as a part of our team.
  • Every year, we look at trends to determine new areas of growth for CES. A few that have stood out over the years include:
    1. For the 2015 CES, we introduced C Space at ARIA, a brand new home for creative communicators, brand professionals and digital advertisers. After close examination of the 2014 CES revealed that there was no centralized meeting space for creatives and CMOs at the show, we expanded our footprint to create a headquarters for this community to see and discuss the latest digital trends.
    2. In 2015, we also welcomed the Sands Convention Center as a venue for CES.  Instead of filling this venue with established categories, we decided to group the new and emerging technologies under one roof – this made it a win/win for both the attendees and the exhibitors.
  • I always look for new ways to make CES more affordable for a wider range of exhibitors as well as to showcase new and promising startups. One way we have achieved that goal is through the creation of the Eureka Park Marketplace at CES. Eureka Park is the flagship startup destination at CES, providing a unique exhibiting opportunity to launch a new product, service or idea at a discounted exhibit space rate. Since its introduction in 2012, Eureka Park has grown significantly. At 2015 it featured more than 300 startups across the technology ecosystem. More, it has provided a unique platform for startups to bring their ideas to the marketplace. In 2014, 25 Eureka Park companies received $50,000 or more in crowdfunding through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Other Eureka Park companies entered new partnerships with distributors or advanced to their first full production cycle after exhibiting at CES.
  • At the 2011 CES, I launched a strategy to create an onsite community for the content and entertainment industries called Entertainment Matters. The 2015 CES, which featured nearly 27,000 content-focused industry professionals, featured exhibits, keynotes, panels and events critical to the entertainment community, including new content and entertainment-focused conference sessions. Nick Cannon was the program’s celebrity ambassador and he did a great job helping us promote CES to the entertainment community.
  • Under my leadership, CEA staff organized a “CES Study Tour” for members of the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) at the 2015 CES. This full-day tour took CEMA members behind the scenes at CES to show them how CEA manages logistics such as keynotes, conference programming, event transportation and the show floor, and gave them the opportunity to interact with the CEA staff responsible for these areas. I was very enthusiastic about giving other professionals in the industry a better understanding of CEA’s trade show model, again with hopes to help advance the industry.
  • I am also leading the launch of the inaugural International CES Asia, which will be in Shanghai, China on May 25-27. This new event will showcase innovation in the Asian marketplace as the premier tradeshow for the consumer technology industry.

How do you balance your IAEE and CEA/International CES duties/time?

I value the great work that IAEE does on behalf of the global exhibition industry. IAEE understands that its members are juggling many events and have made it easy by holding many of its meetings via conference calls. I volunteer my time with this important organization to help advance the interests and priorities of the tradeshow industry and those who work within it.  Of course, technology helps me stay connected where ever I am, and I’m lucky to work for an organization that allows us to telework one day a week – I get to work from the beach every Friday.

How have you helped advance women in the trade show industry?

  • My dedication to the advancement of women in the technology and exhibitions and tradeshow industries is evidenced by how heavily involved women are in producing the international CES and in directing CEA’s policies. Fifty percent of CEA’s senior staff is made up of women and almost half of all vice presidents and higher at CEA are women. I encourage the women on our team to participate and engage in meetings and events. I also make sure that bright and energetic employees – be they men or women- have an opportunity to take leadership roles on projects.
  • In addition, with my encouragement, CEA provides financial assistance to eight female employees to further enhance their knowledge of exhibitions and meetings through obtaining their Certifiedin Exhibition Management (CEM) designation.
  • In January 2010, I was recognized as one of seven inductees in the inaugural Women in Consumer Electronics (CE) Legacy Award class. The Legacy Award honors women in the CE industry that truly serve as role models and are pioneers in every way. Inductees are selected based on their experience, teamwork and leadership, service and accomplishments and inspiration for women in the industry.
  • In June 2012, I participated in Women in CE’s inaugural Career Enhancement Forum, “Power Your Career in Consumer Electronics.” During the event, I participated in a roundtable discussion called “Insights on Success – An Exploration on Rising to the Top.”

What else do you hope to achieve in your career?

I have enjoyed growing the international audience of the International CES and in launching the International CES Asia. I look forward to growing our international presence in the 150 countries that our attendees are from as well as to finding new industries and audiences to highlight and build programs for, and to one day have a show in Asia that is the size of the International CES.

  • Momentum Management

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