Gwendolyn McNutt, CSEP
Regional External Affairs Manager, Greater Chicago Region, Comcast
Based in: Chicago
Additional Roles: Founder and CEO of GYM Events LLC; Secretary/Treasurer, ILEA International Board of Directors
How I got here: When I graduated from college with a communications degree, I thought I would work in public relations, and later write a play. Fast forward to my job in public relations, and I discovered that I enjoyed planning the press conference more than working with the press. Therefore, I transitioned into planning fundraising and nonprofit events and later to corporate events, where I found my home. Along the way, I gained a master’s degree and earned my Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation from the International Live Events Association. I plan events and unforgettable experiences. I love what I do. I love this business and the industry. I have great passion for our profession, the industry and my colleagues. There is no other place I would rather be. My play is now a screenplay, but I’m still working on it.
Greatest career accomplishment: Receiving the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Chicago chapters of the National Association for Catering and Events and the International Live Events Association. To have the respect of my industry friends and colleagues because of the work I’ve done in and for the industry gives me a real sense of achievement. I love sharing the personal experiences I’ve had in professional organizations with others, and I continue to build upon my knowledge and skills through my industry relationships.
A specific improvement I’ve made: I have been able to streamline some of my department’s workflow and create new ways to present relevant information and high-profile events both internally and externally. Making the processes smoother allowed me to quickly transition during the pandemic and improve my work outcomes, virtual events and adaptability to change.
What I do outside of work: I love a good superhero movie. You can never go wrong with a superpower. I apply my personal supernatural ability and principles that every superhero has to my life both inside and outside of work. I also like to visit with friends and family, and travel to beautiful places and tour the local culture and cuisine. In addition, I listen to true crime podcasts to pass the time when I exercise. It’s a great way to check out and just enjoy my time outside. Finally, I have a great love for television. My favorite shows include documentaries, gripping dramas, thrillers and action series.
What I'd tell my younger self: ‘Don’t settle. Don’t take a job that comes with negative influences and people—and that doesn’t make you happy—just for a paycheck. Look for the quality of work over compensation.’ I would also say to believe in yourself and look for something you are passionate about, and once you find your passion, master it. The rest will follow. ‘Always go with your passions. Never ask yourself if it’s realistic or not.’ —Deepak Chopra