Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
With a background in engineering, finance, and project management in the aerospace industry, Jeff Singsaas joined Microsoft in 1995 to work in Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall came down. In 2002, Singsaas took on management of the company’s corporate events department. “I didn’t even know that events was a business. I thought it would be an interesting challenge.
“The early objective was just getting the department organized and understanding the business, which is really complicated when you look at the scale of the event work that we do,” he says. “Then it was about establishing processes and financial controls, and ensuring that we had the right people to take us forward.”
While there are ongoing tactical challenges, Singsaas is a big-picture guy. “We keep close track of what we’re spending and who we’re spending it with, but I view that as the basics,” he says. “The more important part ofis making sure I can define how people are using events, and modifying behaviors if our measurement is saying the events aren’t working.
“A lot of people default to using events because it’s familiar,” says Singsaas. “But if you’re not driving people from a positive perception to some sort of buying behavior, then you’ve got to ask yourself, is that really what I ought to be doing?”
Singsaas’ group—which includes 12 event marketing managers plus two people focused entirely on digital events (all told, he has 92 people in his organization)—directly manages events worth “a couple hundred million dollars a year,” but the company’s overall spend in the event space is three times that, he estimates. “Our job is to influence the rest.” —Sue Hatch