Annie Leroux knew she had stumbled upon a passion for events when she found herself responsible for planning her first large-scale event during an internship. Today, Annie has worked her way up in the industry and is a Senior Event Planner of Global Events at The Linux Foundation. She has previously planned events for DevNetwork, CrowdFlower, Jamba Juice, and local non-profits.
After deciding to move to San Francisco on a whim, Annie got a job as a marketing intern at a start-up using the only contact she had out there. The company was quick to recognize her natural organization skills and before long, Annie was planning their first-ever conference. “I had planned events throughout my previous jobs, but I hadn’t ever put together a formal conference or considered doing events as a career. That first morning at the event when I was standing backstage with a great set of speakers, clipboard and walkie talkie in hand, that is when I knew I had found my calling,” Annie shares.
Annie’s success moving into the field quickly can be attributed to her networking skills and ability to seek mentorship and education. “While at that first conference, I met other start-up founders and went on to plan conferences, events and hackathons for them.” Annie says, “I got my current job with The Linux Foundation by requesting an informational interview with my current VP. I had no intentions of asking for a job; I was just looking to ask lots of questions over coffee. But six months after meeting, a job opened up on her team and I got a call. Networking isn’t my favorite but it apparently works!”
After that, Annie began taking additional event management classes and certifications. Including the Event Leadership Institute’s Technical Meeting & Event Production online course. With these classes and her growing knowledge of events, it became easier to handle challenges as they surfaced.
One challenge Annie faced was coming to terms with the unexpected, “As many event planners are, I’m a type A perfectionist when it comes to planning. During my first years in the industry, it was challenging to deal with the unexpected items that would pop up after I thought I had planned everything so perfectly – speakers cancelling day-of, AV malfunctioning, badge printers not printing. I would take it personally.”
However, Annie quickly learned that as an event planner, expecting the unexpected is part of the job, “Once I learned that these things WILL happen – without a doubt – and it isn’t a reflection of my skills, I was able to plan for them better by creating the space for items to pop up pre-event and onsite. This approach built up my confidence – I knew I could and have handled anything that happened so I stressed less about the unexpected.”
When asked what she finds most inspiring about her career, Annie answered, “Getting to work with communities all over the world. It keeps things interesting when you’re planning events for communities in Europe, Asia, and North America all in the same day. It’s a unique job and no one day is the same!”
One thing Annie wishes she knew, though, at the beginning of her career is, “Balance. I wish I had known to create better habits to keep me more balanced when first getting into the event industry. This position ends up on the Top 10 list of most stressful jobs every year and there is a reason for it; It’s easy to get lost in the process and never come up for air. After years of always feeling like I was behind a step, I now have some good habits in place to take care of myself in the stress – working out, meditating, and not checking email on my phone are top of the list. Always make the time because the job will never feel done.”
Annie has some parting words of wisdom for those looking for a better way to balance their hectic career.
“Three habits that have helped me the absolute most are:
- Before signing onto email each morning, I write down a list of items that feel top of mind or stressful. Those are the first things I spend my day doing because they’re often the easiest to avoid the minute you get into your inbox. Eat the frog.
- Keeping my to-do list on my calendar. I can see that I have enough time for everything that needs to get done, re-prioritize if it’s clear not everything can get done, and let my co-workers know when I need chunks of time to be heads down in a task.
- The Pomodoro technique. Working in 20-minute chunks of time that are COMPLETELY distraction-free. No phone, email, slack, etc open.”
Senior Event Planner, The Linux Foundation
Annie Leroux is an LA native who loves events and coffee(s). She’s a Senior Planner for The Linux Foundation, planning open source technology events for the community globally. When she’s not custom-coloring spreadsheets and hunting for new efficiency tools, she’s listening to crime podcasts while climbing mountains, re-creating Buzzfeed Tasty recipes, and texting her mom memes.