Dianne Anderson, a corporate meeting planner for the Huntington Beach, CA office of the Boeing Company (formerly McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Company before the August merger), plans about 170 meetings and events a year that involve "customers." By that word, she means everyone from the armed forces to foreign dignitaries to government officials and others.
"The protocol can get a little tricky," says Anderson, "especially when an event involves people from foreign countries, say a Chinese diplomat or a Russian cosmonaut. Everything becomes a matter of protocol, such as the proper way to fly flags, the order in which people's names are announced, what side of the stage they stand on." Even within the United States military, she adds, "the rules are a little different for each branch."
Not only is Anderson responsible for ensuring that proper procedure is followed during the meetings and events, she also briefs corporate executives beforehand. "I'll distribute copies to the executives to remind them that within a certain culture it might be impolite to point or to write on a business card," she says.
Anderson finds the challenges of her job to be extraordinary because of the nature of her company. "We might plan to do a rocket launch," she says, "and then find it scrubbed at the last minute because of weather. We have to get everyone back on the bus and start all over again tomorrow--duplicating the food, the social aspects, everything down to the last detail. But that's just part of this job."
In addition to meetings, Anderson plans product roll-outs, training events, dedications, company tours, and other special events. To help keep her decisions on track, she always asks herself three questions: Is it safe? Is it healthy? Is it logical? "If I can answer yes to those three questions, I can move forward."