2021 Connect Association 40 Under 40: Colette J. Apke, CMP, CEM, DES

Colette J. Apke is vice president of programs and events for AWESOME. She is based in Chicago.

2021 Connect Association 40 Under 40: Colette J. Apke, CMP, CEM, DES

Colette J. Apke, CMP, CEM, DES, 37
VP, Programs and Events, AWESOME

What I do:
A favorite quote of mine from “Mad Men” is “I’m in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them.” I oversee the programming and events for senior-level women in the supply chain industry, and I am developing our future event and program road map that will enhance opportunities for our members to connect, develop and continue to advance in a predominantly male-led space. 

How I got here:
After college, I had an opportunity at a boutique hotel in St. Louis as an assistant/event coordinator. When I returned to Chicago, I knew I wanted to be on the ‘other side.’ I have now been in the association world ever since, in varying roles. 

My greatest career accomplishment:
I am most proud of being a forever learner and earning my CMP, CEM and DES—all at different points in my career journey, and championing others to do so too. 

Impressive stats:
I was assistant director, exhibits and sponsorship with AVMA, where in a typical year I was solely responsible for selling, servicing and managing over 330 exhibit booths, 30-plus sponsors and 1,400 booth personnel; overseeing 210,000 square feet of exhibit hall space; and responsible for a revenue budget of $2 million. When COVID-19 hit, I took the lead for our first-ever virtual convention, where we had only three months to plan, market, sell and execute. Our team exceeded our virtual registration and sponsorship revenue budget by 204% and over 4,400 attendees.

What I do outside of work:
I currently am on the ASAE Meetings & Expositions Advisory Council and Association Forum’s 2021 Holiday Showcase Program Advisory Group. Nonindustry, the pandemic really allowed me time to focus on what was and wasn’t serving me in a positive way. I have picked up yoga and daily sunset walks with our family and dogs, and I’ve become pretty hard to beat at Mario Kart. 

Favorite vacation destination:
Both my partner and I have the philosophy of work hard, play hard. So when we have time off, we really like to disconnect and explore new destinations with our family. Most recently we have gone to The Westin Kierland Scottsdale and Royalton Chic Cancun, and will be heading to Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau soon. Cancun and Cabo are always in the rotation!

Favorite icebreaker line:
I love all things reality TV and mystery/crime, so I always start by asking what you are currently watching, listening to or reading, plus I always love new ideas and suggestions.

Travel hack:
I feel like this one is a given, but TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. I rarely check a bag and am a ‘get to the airport 30 minutes before my flight’ kinda gal. I’m a bit of a tea snob, so I always have with me a Hydro Flask and some of my favorite teas and just ask for hot water on the plane. A tried-and-true app: Evernote. I don’t remember how I functioned without it, especially in a remote environment.