Diane E. Kovats, CAE, CMP, 36, works in Leesburg, Virginia, as executive director at International Society for Computational Biology. As a 2018 40 Under 40 honoree, Kovats discusses her passion for the events industry.What I do: I am responsible for the strategic and operational management of the organization. Managing and operating a small-staff organization has provided me with the skill necessary to successful juggling several projects, work with hundreds of volunteers, build the foundations for new initiatives and project development, grow membership on an international scale, execute several meetings per year including ISCB’s flagship meeting, ISMB, and cultivate and procure sponsorship relationships. How I got here: Grit and determination! After several years of managing a large scientific meeting and taking on leadership roles through volunteer activities, I was ready for the challenge of leading an organization. ISCB needed someone who understood the habits of volunteers with a strong background in meeting management. Impressive stats: We restored our operating budget from a deficit to break-even and grew our meeting attendance by 15 percent. We also implemented planning efficiencies that reduced costs by more than $50,000 annually.
Specific improvement I’ve made: Our reorganization took 15 smaller meetings and integrated them to create a community feel. Each niche topic had its own track, but the tracks were organized so attendees could easily get a broader scientific experience.What I am working on now: We are working on creating a stronger communication platform that educates the greater computational community about ISCB, its meetings and its purpose. The marketing focuses on more avatars (personalities) on why someone should attend or submit. The first “commercials” were released in July, with more to come out over the course of the year. We feel that strengthening the brand of the meeting will increase participation.