CEO Tammy Dickerson Talks Career and Diversity in Event Planning

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( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Powerhouse, Entrepreneur, and CEO of tgb Events Tammy Dickerson Discusses Career and Diversity in High Profile Event Planning

ENSPIRE Contributor: Spencer Hatcher

Celebrated as a tenacious powerhouse, Tammy Dickerson oversees illustrious affairs from installations and social galas to fundraisers and corporate conferences. For over 27 years, she has partnered with politicians, global organizations, celebrities, and business tycoons on the curation and production of their events. An extensive background in business marketing and sales has made Dickerson the savvy and meticulous event curator she is today.

She moved up the ranks quickly in her early corporate career, overseeing projects including the Super Bowl and Olympic Torch Relay in Los Angeles as well as numerous regional and national sales meetings, sales rallies, and trade shows. She soaked up a wealth of knowledge and experience that boosted her confidence in the industry. A later role at Coca-Cola relocated Dickerson from Texas to Los Angeles, where her career would take on a different face. An opportunity to manage the Inner-City Economic Summit with Vice-President Al Gore as the keynote speaker altered the trajectory of her career. Dickerson resigned from Coca-Cola and managed the summit under her own company, The Baker Group. This high-profile event would be the first of many and set the tone for her success as an event expert. Since fully launching her company twenty years ago, Dickerson has worked with countless Fortune 100 Companies, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Wells Fargo, Disney, The LA Sparks, and The Milken Institute. Tbg Events, as it’s now known, produces over 30 events annually with anywhere from 50 to over 15,000 guests.

What do you do during a typical day with event planning? 

Planning large scale events is absolutely invigorating. I truly thrive in an environment of what some call “chaos.” The more aspects, levels, number of days, details, layers…the more I love it. I have always been a leader and organizer. Whether it was the lead dance captain in high school, to planning all of our family reunions, to managing a team for the Super Bowl. That’s when I kick it and do my best. On a typical day at TBG Events, I focus a lot on the little details but also on team management and ensuring my team is staying on track.

My 3 secrets to a high caliber event are:

  1. Define your goals and objectives. Having a detailed briefing paper for any event is critical. Outline exactly what the purpose of your event is and what you hope the outcome will be. Having a detailed brief means there won’t be any miscommunication when speaking to suppliers, vendors, partners, sponsors, staff, etc. They’ll be able to quickly understand exactly what you want for your event.  It also aids when you are collaborating with your client and helping to measure your deliverables.
  2. Always have a “Plan B.” Be ready for anything. We like to call it “real-time solutions.” In your planning, make sure to include a back-up plan. I mean for ANYTHING. Rain, shine, wind, suppliers not arriving, the food being ruined, someone’s getting hurt, you name it. It can all happen. Even though it might be unlikely that any of these things will happen, as the saying goes, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Relying on nothing but your original plan is a dangerous approach. After a 20-year career working in events, it’s inevitable that something will eventually go awry. Preparing will serve you far better than panicking.
  3. Details, details, details. Having an eye for the detail of an event means you’ll be tying up all the loose ends before your clients even realize they were there. Multitasking and events go hand in hand, resulting in missed details for the inexperienced. It’s our job, as the event planner, to ensure this doesn’t happen.  Find a system or software to help you manage all the details that work best for you. Whether it’s written to-do lists or using calendar alarms and organization apps, finding something to keep everything in check is vital. Plus, planning in advance allows you to stay on top of all of the moving parts of event planning. Properly prioritizing each task as it appears means nothing will be missed.

What motivates you at work?

My team motivates me at work. I love working with an amazing group of female professionals who are always striving for excellence. We all love to take on challenges and work on creating innovative solutions.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?  

The professional achievement I am most proud of is winning the “Top 50 Women in the Event Industry” by Lasso this year. It was a big deal for our company and the industry, we take pride in knowing that we work with smart female professionals who really help shape our company. 

I would also say that one of the most rewarding moments in my career was securing The Milken Institute Global Conference on a cold call. When a colleague told me about the opportunity, and one of the top Foundations in the world was looking for an event planner to support with coordination for one of the leading global summits. I immediately said, what do I have to lose? I literally picked up the phone and cold-called the team. It was a Tuesday afternoon phone call. After several introductions and screenings, I was able to obtain an interview for the following Thursday. I assembled my dream team, we nailed the interview, and we started working the next week. 17 years later, we are still a part of the Milken Institute Global Conference planning team, one of the few women and minority-owned consulting firms. I would encourage any young women in the field to set your goals high. Aim for the world. Nothing is unachievable. Believe in yourself first. Keep your eye on the prize. Surround yourself with partners, team members, and mentors who support your goals and continue to push, teach, and open doors for your business.

How do you see your company evolving over the years? 

The pandemic has made us reevaluate our company’s future. We see our company evolving and continuing in the virtual event space, but also focusing more of our efforts on producing fewer larger scale projects. By producing less large scale projects, we can focus on those that align most with our values.

I also hope that our company’s success inspires other women and business owners to go after their dreams and believe in the possibilities that the future holds. I want to set an example for others that you can do and achieve anything. You can start in your dining room and five years later be in China producing events for one of the world’s most powerful foundations. I want to show the business community that women and minority business owners are a force to be reckoned with and given the opportunity, we can accomplish what the majority can. I’m proud to be a part of history in the making.

Have you dealt with a lack of diversity in your field, and how did you overcome it?

It has not been an easy journey, not only being a woman but a woman of color in this space. Having to ensure that my white, male counterparts respected my seat at the table, to constantly having to “overcompensate.” It’s been exhausting. The silver lining has been my success record speaking for itself. When you strive for excellence and always produce high-quality results, that’s all the proof you need. I love working with talented teams who have supported my vision and ambition in this industry.

What has your biggest challenge been as a business owner and CEO of your company?

My biggest challenge being a business owner and CEO of tgb Events has been navigating this ever-changing environment brought on by the pandemic. We experienced more than 40 percent business loss, and we had to lay off employees. Thankfully, we have been able to stay nimble and pivot to producing virtual events, which has helped keep our business afloat.

What do you do when you are outside the office? 

When I’m not in the office, I really enjoy being outside running and cycling. I appreciate the time I get to spend with my family and daughter.

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