Melissa Patruno – Bishop-McCann

Melissa Patruno

Executive Producer, Bishop-McCann

Las Vegas, Nev.

Describe your job.

As an executive producer for Kansas City, Mo.-based Bishop-McCann, I produce live, virtual, and hybrid show productions for our corporate clients. I work closely with our clients, production, and creative team to ensure that the productions meet messaging goals for projecting the intended brand image and introducing new concepts or ideas. More specifically, I oversee stage management, scenic elements, audio, lighting, rigging, blocking, casting, multimedia content management, and timeline development. Additionally, I helped develop Bishop-McCann’s digital strategy for virtual events.

What made you choose the meetings and events industry?

When I was graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), I took the Myers-Briggs Strong Interest Inventory career assessment test. It highlighted my strengths and suggested several career paths, one of which was event planning. It immediately felt like the right choice. I love how it coupled my organizing and analytical skills with a creative outlet. There is so much satisfaction in seeing an event come to fruition.

How did you get started and what got you from there to today?

Immediately after graduating, I began my event career as a conference services manager for the UCSB Events Center. It was a very hands-on position, which was a great launching point for my career. From there, I moved to San Diego and worked for ACCESS DMC, where I eventually became director of operations. After that, I freelanced as an event producer. I worked as a producer for Google and SoftBank Vision Fund; it was so cool working with such big brands because I got to work with some amazing leaders in our industry. Then COVID-19 hit. As a freelancer at that time, I knew I had to level up my skill sets, so I dove into the digital world and got my digital event strategist certificate from PCMA and was recruited by Bishop-McCann as an executive producer.

How do you keep up with industry trends, changes, and cutting-edge developments?

There are so many amazing publications out there it’s super easy to stay connected and plugged into the events industry and stay on top of current trends.

What essential skills should every industry professional possess?

Something I think is essential is to cultivate patience. We work in a demanding, fast-paced environment, and it’s easy to get caught up in the speed of what we do. I think it’s important to approach the work with patience so you can react from a grounded and centered place. This means thinking through all the possible options and discerning which is the best approach given the logistics, budget, etc. When I pause and cultivate patience, I feel so much better, and I also don’t get caught up in how stressful it can be at times.

What is the philosophy or approach to work that gets you through stressful times?

What I love about events is that there is a beginning, middle, and end. When you are deep in the planning process, it’s helpful to remember that this too shall pass. It won’t last forever. The event date will eventually arrive, all the hard work will come together, and then, it’ll be over!

What is the best professional advice you ever received?

I remember being on a project, and my manager at the time encouraged me to think outside the box. She kept asking, “Where is the surprise and the delight?” It really got me thinking more creatively and through the eyes of the attendee. It can be too easy to stay in the producer mindset and forget to look at the little details that can really make a big impact.

Describe your biggest professional success.

When I was working for SoftBank Vision Fund, I was part of a core team of internal producers who produced their inaugural CEO Summit. The attendees were CEOs from all the companies that made up their venture fund portfolio: Uber, Slack, WeWork, Wag, Oyo, and about 80 others. Being part of this inner circle of planners was one of the most exciting projects I have ever been part of. Stakes were high, and there was a budget to support a very premium experience for the attendees. I remember feeling wowed, and I knew we had really wowed the attendees.

Share an anecdote about a meeting or event that did not go as planned and how you handled it.

I was producing an event where we hired a celebrity chef to execute a high-end dinner. The catch was that the chef had to use the kitchen and staff at the hotel where the event was happening. On the night of the event, the kitchen staff was overwhelmed by the recipes, and when the event was starting, they did not have the appetizers ready. Five minutes turned into 15, then almost a half hour, and none of the food was out. I got our team to coordinate with the banquet captain, and the hotel was able to get together some appetizers the kitchen staff knew how to prepare. We got those apps out pretty quickly after that, but it was very stressful since the client had hired this top chef and none of his appetizers were enjoyed by the guests. It wasn’t funny in the moment, but I can look back and laugh at it all now.

What is the best part of your job?

The people. I love all the creative, strategic, and problem-solving people I get to work with each day. I am always learning something new from the people on my team. They also make the job fun. I like being around them, and I know they always have my back.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have a steady mindfulness and meditation practice, and when time permits, you can find me on a yoga or meditation retreat. I’m also a certified integrative nutrition and health coach; I love cooking and learning how food can fuel our body.

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