Return to 2012 Changemaker List


Jan Aument recently had an epiphany that her job is much more than planning meetings. It’s really about creating an experience that brings people together and makes a difference in their lives. “If I help plan an event and someone gets to connect with someone they otherwise wouldn’t and something about that connection helps them, I realized that I helped facilitate that.”

Aument began her career at BASF Construction Chemicals almost 14 years ago collating catalogs. After planning the company’s national sales conference a couple of years later, she took what was a largely undefined role and shaped it into a position that now oversees about 20 trade shows, the company’s major multidivisional corporate meetings, and some customer events. As if that weren’t enough, Aument also recently began planning meetings for an industry association that her company belongs to. “It’s been a valuable learning experience for me,” she says of working on the association side.

HIGHLIGHTS Aument, who is on the exhibitor advisory board of the Hanley Wood Expositions show World of Concrete, noticed a decline in a specific attendee type at that meeting. Where construction companies previously used a trip to Las Vegas for the show as an incentive for their crews, in these tight times, many just couldn’t afford it. So she collaborated with World of Concrete to create an online contest where bosses could nominate their crews for the great job they did that year. They got more than 50 entries, and when they opened it up to the public to vote on their top picks, more than 13,000 cast votes. Winners received airfare to fly representatives of their crew to Las Vegas, hotel rooms, and prize packages, but “it was more about recognizing their work, and letting them know we really miss them at the event,” she says. “It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been a part of.”

ADVICE“Don’t be afraid to go to your CEO and say, ‘We really need to start with our objectives—what are they?’ Your job is not about what kind of chicken to serve attendees.” - Sue Pelletier