Laura Baukol, marketing manager, event planning, at TIAA-CREF/Financial Services in Denver, Colo., is the current Chair of Financial & Insurance Conference Planners’ West Region.

Why did you decide to volunteer your time as West Region Chair and what do you enjoy about your involvement?
I volunteered to serve as the vice chair last year and the chair this year because I think it’s important to be involved in your industry. FICP has been so helpful to me as a meeting/event manager, and I wanted to give something back to the organization and its members. I enjoy taking a leadership role and would like to be more involved, time permitting.

What do you wish you had more time for in your job?
Strategic thinking and planning. We’re so busy with the day-to-day aspects of our jobs, and I would like more time for contemplation, strategy, and thoughtful planning. What do you foresee as your biggest meeting planning challenge in the coming year and how will you meet that challenge?

As we get busier and busier, I think the greatest challenges are time and resources. There is so much we want to accomplish individually and as a team, but the demands on our time and our travel schedules are increasing. I hope to handle it with grace and allow my experience to serve me and lead our team toward success. We work with a third-party planning company, so I expect we’ll get them involved in additional programs as the quantity increases.

What is it about meeting planning that makes it the right career for you?
I really enjoy working with our business partners within the organization to design, plan, and execute a successful program. I like understanding their objectives and crafting an agenda to help them meet their goals. I also enjoy weaving the brand and marketing messages creatively throughout the program so attendees walk away with a clear understanding of the objectives, messages, and how to apply them when they get back to the office. And I’m fortunate to work with an extraordinary team of event managers and third-party suppliers who excel in their fields. It’s a lot of hard work, long hours, and time away from home. But at the end of the day, I enjoy what I do and the people I’m lucky enough to work with, and that makes all the difference. I’m also an actress, so I’m blessed to pursue two passions as a career.

If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be?
I was born in London, England, and I was fortunate to spend several months in Sydney, Australia. If I didn’t live in the U.S., I’d be in either London or Sydney.

What do you never travel without?
My iPad and iPhone. I’m an Apple addict, and I love music and e-books.

What TV shows are filling your DVR right now?
I enjoy “Mad Men,” “Castle,” and “Smash,” and my guilty pleasure is “True Blood.”