2019 40 Under 40: Samantha Lazo, The Institute of Internal Auditors

As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Samantha Lazo discusses her passion for the events industry.

Samantha Lazo

Samantha Lazo, CMP, DES, 35, works in Lake Mary, Florida, as manager of production and event technology at The Institute of Internal Auditors

*Connect with Lazo on Instagram 

What I do: I lead the implementation of event technology, execution of audiovisual and production, and attendee engagement initiatives for the IIA's portfolio of conferences and events. My role includes developing the IIA’s digital strategy for live streaming and attendee engagement.

How I got here: I have worked at two major theme parks and have a B.S. in hospitality management from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College. I started with the Institute of Internal Auditors in 2012 as the strategy implementation manager for the training department with oversight for all of training products strategic marketing plans, including the conferences. With my hospitality background and passion for events, when the conference manager role became vacant in 2014, I immediately applied for it. My role has evolved over the past five years to where I am now the manager of production and event technology with responsibilities and oversight for IIA Conferences.

Greatest career accomplishment: I earned two certifications concurrently in 2018: Certified Meeting Planner and Digital Event Strategist.

Impressive stats: In 2018, we created a record by selling out the capacity for three of our major conferences by developing conference programs that included relevant, timely and highly anticipated speakers and sessions. 

Specific improvement I’ve made: During my tenure, I have automated the badge-printing process with print on-demand and launched session evaluations in the mobile app, as well implementing the option for speakers to utilize polling tools in their sessions at all conferences. In addition, we have re-examined how we manage session Q&As by eliminating mic runners and utilizing the mobile app for this purpose. I have created new experiences for attendees, such as our first open-space, collaboration area “The Co-lab” for connecting, collaborating and learning. I also designed our industry meet-up program, which takes place during the conference for attendees to connect and engage with their industry peers. In addition, I developed our first conference live stream, which exceeded our registration goal, generated incremental revenue, and received a 100 percent satisfaction rating.

What I am working on now: I am currently planning for our 2019 International Conference that will take place in July. At this conference, we will have our second live stream event. This will include live streaming all of our general sessions and keynotes as well as seven concurrent sessions. Since this conference attracts a global audienc, we will be piloting adding a translation component to translate from English to Spanish with a text-closed captioning component. I am also working on developing new networking initiatives that we can pilot at our All-Star Conference in October. 

What I do outside of work: I enjoy yoga, Orangetheory Fitness and CrossFit. I also enjoy cooking, reading, catching up on the latest series to binge, and spending time with my Boston Terrier, Brody.