2016's 40 Under 40: Kelly Szczotka

Kelly Szczotka meeting planner

Kelly Szczotka meeting plannerKelly Szczotka 37, President Laurel Key Services LLC, Dallas What I really do: “As with all meeting and event planners, we make the magic happen. Most of my pharmaceutical company clients don’t realize all the details that go into a program or event. We’re like ducks, remaining calm on the surface and paddling like hell underneath.”

How I got here: “Networking. I landed in Miami with a hotel position as a catering and convention services manager with Sonesta and continued that role with a move to Texas with Omni Hotels & Resorts. I eventually switched to the other side, becoming a planner for a meetings and incentives company. In 2011, I branched off on my own. Most of my current work still comes from contacts and relationships I made 10 years ago.”

Career milestone: Leaving large corporations behind and starting out on her own. At first, Szczotka felt lucky each time she landed a new client. Now in her sixth year as an independent planner, she finally realizes it’s about more than luck. “It’s a huge accomplishment to be profitable while doing something I’m passionate about,” she says.