She’s met John Mayer and seen a Kanye West and Common live performance from only two feet away. She’s worked at some of Chicago’s hottest clubs, including The Underground, Privet, Lumen and Public. And she got her first hire in the industry from Billy dec, an Emmy-winner who’s made appearances on shows like Empire. It would be easy to be jealous of Heather Hogden, Nightlife and Entertainment Manager at Public Hotels. But then she reveals herself to be driven, funny and sometimes just as star stuck as we would be in her shoes. We can all learn a lot from this Woman We Love…
YOU’VE WORKED IN MARKETING/EVENTS AT SOME OF CHICAGO’S HOTTEST NIGHTLIFE DESTINATIONS. IS YOUR CAREER AS FUN AS IT SOUNDS?
That’s a loaded question! I mean let’s be honest, getting paid to throw parties is a lot of fun, but it’s not as glamorous as it seems. When you’re in the trenches planning and negotiating contracts, anything can change in a moment’s time and you have to be ready for it, which can be stressful. I call it controlled chaos. J The fun part is watching your hard work pay off during the final execution and all the people you’ve connected with along the way.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN THESE ROLES?
Booking talent, planning and executing social and private events, implementing strategic experiential marketing and public relations strategies, driving event sales, social media management…I’ve pretty much done it all. But the most important part of my job throughout my career has been creating the MAGIC in the room…the energy, the vibe, the DNA.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE INDUSTRY?
While interviewing at advertising agencies and having no luck, a friend of mine suggested that I apply at this new club that had just opened called Underground. I went in one evening, got Billy Dec’s card and emailed him the next day. I started two weeks later as a door host and instantly fell in love with the hospitality industry!
From there I moved up into a leadership role and before I knew it was helping run a multi-million dollar club. I love people, and I also love entertaining friends. Working at Underground always felt like I was hosting a room full of friends!
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD AT WORK?
My second week in hospitality, I met Kanye West, Common, Lupe Fiasco, R. Kelly, John Mayer, and John Legend in the same night. Then Kanye and Common hopped up in the middle of the club and did an impromptu performance two feet in front of me. I had never seen a celebrity in the flesh prior to that day, but after that it became the norm.
WHAT TYPE OF PERSONALITY DO YOU NEED TO SUCCESS IN SUCH A HIGH-ENERGY FIELD?
In order to perform well in a high-energy field, one must be flexible, gregarious, have humility, be persistent and show dedication. You get a lot thrown at you from all angles, so it’s important to stay true to yourself and your values and not let anything get in the way of that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
Overall, I enjoy making people happy! I thrive by focusing on the small details of an event and creating magic in the moment.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
The most challenging part of the field is accepting defeat. There have been times when I have spent tireless hours planning an event, created the perfect marketing plan coupled with the perfect social media exposure and the night of the event there would be a blizzard and no one would show up. Learning to bounce back from that is what sets you apart, as it’s a reality of the business.
As my mentor once said, “I’ve lost as much as I’ve won. Even if you lose, at least people can’t say you aren’t trying.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO FOLLOW IN YOUR CAREER FOOTSTEPS?
I have a few things:
- Don’t go into this field for the fame and social perks. Do it because you truly have a passion for it. I’ve seen so many people get into hospitality and get sucked in and spit out because they were motivated for the wrong reasons.
- Be hungry. I’ve found success in always asking how I can help and doing whatever it takes to get things done. The more you know about your company, the more valuable you are as an employee.
- Show up for work on time. It shows dedication to your career and your managers want to see that. The more you invest in it, the more it will invest in you.
- Don’t burn bridges. You never know when that person will come into play in the future and how you will need them.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Go to where they’re making the thing you like, and work there at any capacity.
Whether you have to get someone coffee, volunteer, do whatever you have to do until you get there. I’ve had so many moments throughout my career where I’d realize, “I’m not here yet, but I know I’m on the right path.” It’s all about setting goals and sticking to them. When you are at your weakest moment, buckle down and try harder.