Name: Kimberly Marlin Bean
Title: Event Strategist/Meeting Incentive Planner
Organization: KBT Creative Support Services
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee
Education: Lipscomb University, Business Administration/Management
• Public relations/advertising account coordinator and events at Brumfield-Gallagher Inc.
• Administrative and events coordinator for Nashville Public Education Foundation
• Event strategist and meeting planner at KBT Creative Support Services
Kimberly Bean’s career as an independent conference and event planner began almost by chance.
“I was working for a university and the Public Education Foundation, and I started organizing their annual fundraiser,” she said. “I majored in business and had a background in PR and advertising that prepared me in a way to work with board members and executives, and it just sort of snowballed.”
After the fundraiser, she organized a small education conference, and soon, that led to corporate retreats and other small meetings.
In her professional capacity, Bean handles myriad things, from swag and gifts to creating event registration websites. She visits hotels and resorts, meets with meeting planners, looks into the details for food and beverage, everything involved in the nuts and bolts of an event that will ensure events will run seamlessly.
“Over time, you figure out your own best practices that will work well,” said Bean. “You’re constantly keeping up with industry changes to stay visible. And honest communication with the client is key, because you want to make sure everyone has a positive experience.”
Though she didn’t major in hospitality management in college, she did take a series of classes on event planning. But most of her training has been in the field.
Being an independent consultant allowed her to raise her family alongside her business, and now that her children are grown, she can participate more fully in the meetings she helps to plan by traveling to them along with her clients.
“It just sort of evolves,” she said. “And you can have experience, but you also have to have the type of personality where you love people.”
From that initial education conference, Bean’s business has grown largely through word-of-mouth to include other educational institutions, member organizations and nonprofits. Bean suggests that for those who are interested in getting started in the meeting planning industry, volunteering can be a great way to get a foot in the door because many organizations need a go-getter to plan their events.
“Even if many organizations have an in-house meeting planner, they will mine your talents as someone who can take care of the details,” she said. “In the end, the event needs to make them look good.”
Bean has found plenty of demand for event planning for people who love to research and create something participants will enjoy attending.
“I hope I’m doing this for the indefinite future,” she said. “I have built something with my business that I absolutely love.”
Tips from Kimberly Bean
• A solid business education/work history can help you adapt. A willingness to try new things, even though they may be uncomfortable at first, will help you survive and thrive in uncharted waters and uncertain times.
• Do something that inspires and makes you smile every day, and be the person who builds up others sincerely; you will be better for it.
• Confidence is gained from experience and hard work. Dream big, and be willing to do the small, seemingly insignificant tasks that get the job done. You will find success in following your heart.