Meet Marnie Gomes, one of the Shaw Conference Centre’s longest serving team members
The Shaw Conference Centre was just a few years old when Marnie Gomes joined the team as a client services manager in the late 1980s. Although this was the Edmontonian’s first experience with event planning, she loved it. “I was doing all of these internal events and working with the event planners that came to the Shaw Conference Centre,” she says. “I thought it was really fascinating.”
A decade or so later, Gomes decided to explore the industry from the other side. She bought an event planning company and went into business with a friend. The company was successful and the duo planned events throughout the city, including plenty at the Shaw Conference Centre. “It was great, but we worked all the time,” she says. After a few years, Gomes knew she had to prioritize her work-life balance and sell the business. Once she was back on the market, the Shaw Conference Centre immediately rehired her.
“Working as an independent event planner was an amazing opportunity,” says Gomes. “It gave me the ability to see events from both perspectives, and it opened my eyes to the many challenges event planners are faced with. They have to be incredibly adaptable in order to keep all of the balls bouncing at the same time.”
Over the course of nearly 25 years, she has risen through the ranks of Edmonton’s premier convention centre and now manages two closely interconnected teams as the Director of Sales and Client Services. “Sales at the Shaw Conference Centre involves getting clients, making sure they’re booked and happy, and renewing them year over year,” she says. “Client services takes over for the sales team to make sure everything happens flawlessly for the client.” It’s no easy feat, but the Shaw Conference Centre pulls it off again and again, Gomes says. “Our client service speaks for itself. Clients who arrived when we opened our doors 34 years ago are still with us.”
In fact, the convention centre hosts over 650 diverse events each year, including national and international conventions and meetings, high school graduations, charity galas, and community events. Gomes’ favourites include Gold Medal Plates, Feastival of Fine Chefs, and Homeless Connect, which connects homeless Edmontonians with dignity-enhancing services (like haircuts, dental treatments, clothing, and legal help). She’s also proud to have helped plan the Truth and Reconciliation event held in 2014. “It had a huge impact not only on the delegates who came, but on our opportunity to educate people about residential schools,” says Gomes, who was the venue’s client services manager at the time. “It’s one of the best events I was able to participate in and learn from.”
All of the Shaw Conference Centre’s events contribute to Edmonton’s cultural fabric, as well as the city’s economy. As a division of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), Gomes and her team work with the organization’s other divisions, which includes Edmonton Tourism, to attract more events to the city. Together they pursue national and international conventions, which have the biggest economic impact on the city. “We work very collaboratively with our partners and local hotels as we all benefit from bringing new events here,” she says.
For Gomes, who was born and raised here, Edmonton is an easy sell. She loves the city’s thriving arts and culture scene, friendly vibe, and community spirit, and has enjoyed watching the city rapidly evolve in recent years: “I’m very proud of my city.”
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