Women at the Helm: Cathy Schlosberg, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Encore
Pre-teen girls certainly have a lot of things on their minds but hatching a business—let alone brainstorming best marketing practices for its success—ordinarily aren’t some of them. Cathy Schlosberg, however, was an extraordinary girl, and those were the exact thoughts swirling through her 12-year-old brain when she and her brother came up with the idea to launch a catering business servicing events for their parents and parents’ friends.
“That’s where my career in marketing and hospitality began,” Schlosberg said of the catering operation in her hometown of Framingham, Mass. “We called ourselves The Potwallopers. Our tagline was ‘Be a guest at your own party,’ and our value proposition was ‘We serve, we clean up.’”
She still carries that business card today as a reminder of how important a service mindset is in life.
“It tickles me that I was thinking about marketing and commercial positioning that early on in life,” Schlosberg said.
Fast forward several decades, and that leadership mentality as a young girl has led her to exceptional experiences throughout her career.
She eventually earned a master’s degree at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and built a successful 30-plus-year career serving in executive roles at companies such as General Foods, Campbell Soup and Aramark. Four years ago, Schlosberg joined leading in-person, hybrid and virtual event company Encore (formerly PSAV) as senior vice president, marketing.
“I love the opportunity to support both event professionals and our venue partners,” she said. “The challenge of repositioning the PSAV brand, along with the 12 other companies it acquired over the years, to the Encore master brand has been a career highlight for me.”
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Schlosberg to discuss what she enjoys most about being a female leader, the importance of mentorship and work-life balance, the most empowering qualities women can bring to the table, her biggest career accomplishments and the best ways event professionals can create more gender and racial parity as well as follow a leadership path.
What do you enjoy most about your job at Encore and your role as a female leader in the industry?
My greatest thrill is opening eyes about marketing as an essential company growth driver. As a female executive, I feel a responsibility to encourage and mentor women, not just within marketing but across the company and the industry. In fact, at this point in my career, it’s as much about who I work with and the lives I can impact as it is about the actual work. I have three grown sons and am celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary this year. I feel so fortunate to have had a life with room for marriage, children, career and even self-development and want to encourage a healthy work-life balance for other women in the industry.
What are the qualities that women bring to roles such as yours that empower them to excel?
I think having the confidence to ask for a seat at the table is key, and that stems from putting in the research and hard work to develop a unique point of view and ensuring you can articulate it and push back respectfully when necessary. Creative problem solving is a marketing mindset, but also a great leadership skill. Any decision is an opportunity to get creative and leverage keen insights for the best solution, rather than reinforcing the status quo. And to complement both of those qualities, you also need to have the self-awareness and emotional intelligence to know when to choose your battles.
Can you share some of the career accomplishments that you are most proud of.
I am incredibly proud of the team I’ve built around me in the last 12 months at Encore. We were able to pull together a team of functional experts with diverse experience. It has led to really challenging, constructive conversations that have influenced strategies and change within the organization. I’m also very proud of the 2021 rebrand of Encore, melding 13 company brands representing dozens of countries and four major solution lines into one cohesive, customer-focused brand—and all achieved during the pandemic!
Have you had any great mentors or others who have inspired you throughout your career?
My original and most influential mentor is my mother. She raised four kids to believe that we could be anything and do anything. She taught us that our only limitations would be our own confidence and work ethic. She worked in education and non-profit administration, and what I took away from her professional prowess was to never be afraid to enter any conversation. I think that left a strong impression on me.
What can event professionals do to help create more gender and racial parity in the industry?
Creating environments where people feel like they can show up as their authentic selves and that they belong is what’s going to empower us to go the distance in furthering diversity and equity in the industry. My advice is to champion others to reach for their highest aspirations and make sure that the people sitting at the decision table don’t look just like you. Having diverse representation in every room, but especially during big decisions, is key. I’m incredibly proud that Encore has just launched the WAVE program, Women in Audio Visual Events, to train, mentor and encourage women to pursue technical roles that have been traditionally filled by men. We have a high focus on DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) in our recruitment strategy, and in addition to the WAVE program, we’re also partnering with HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), as well as veteran-specific programs to ensure a diverse talent pipeline for our future.
What are you most excited about for the coming year at Encore or otherwise within the industry?
We’ve just launched a new brand campaign called We See Solutions, which highlights our meeting professional partnerships and our team members’ abilities to offer unique solutions to improve the event experience. We know that our people are a key differentiator, and this campaign highlights the talented and caring people who make a difference in events every day.
What advice would you give to other women in the industry wishing to follow a leadership path?
First, gather experiences and opportunities in your career that build your skills, perspective and comprehensive understanding of your industry. You don’t have to love every aspect of a role to learn something of value, and ultimately you will have more choices in your career path with diverse experience. Second, bring a point of view to your role that is informed by data and research. I have had success in my career by selling ideas backed by a solid rationale. Third, don’t be discouraged if an idea you’ve presented doesn’t take hold. Consider it a win to be heard. Last, be a mentor and find a mentor. It is just as important to provide insights and experience to others who are early in their career path as it is to have someone to give you advice. Pay it forward, and you’ll soon realize how rich and rewarding your professional network can be.
Know of a dynamic female leader in the events industry who deserves some time in the spotlight? Reach out to Lori Tenny or Lisa Plummer Savas.
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