Women at the Helm: Cathy Schlosberg, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Encore

March 1, 2023

Pre-teen girls certainly have a lot of things on their minds but hatching a business—let alone brainstorming best marketing practices for its success—ordinarily aren’t some of them. Cathy Schlosberg, however, was an extraordinary girl, and those were the exact thoughts swirling through her 12-year-old brain when she and her brother came up with the idea to launch a catering business servicing events for their parents and parents’ friends.

“That’s where my career in marketing and hospitality began,” Schlosberg said of the catering operation in her hometown of Framingham, Mass. “We called ourselves The Potwallopers. Our tagline was ‘Be a guest at your own party,’ and our value proposition was ‘We serve, we clean up.’”

She still carries that business card today as a reminder of how important a service mindset is in life.

“It tickles me that I was thinking about marketing and commercial positioning that early on in life,” Schlosberg said.

Fast forward several decades, and that leadership mentality as a young girl has led her to exceptional experiences throughout her career. 

She eventually earned a master’s degree at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and built a successful 30-plus-year career serving in executive roles at companies such as General Foods, Campbell Soup and Aramark. Four years ago, Schlosberg joined leading in-person, hybrid and virtual event company Encore (formerly PSAV) as senior vice president, marketing.

“I love the opportunity to support both event professionals and our venue partners,” she said. “The challenge of repositioning the PSAV brand, along with the 12 other companies it acquired over the years, to the Encore master brand has been a career highlight for me.”

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Schlosberg to discuss what she enjoys most about being a female leader, the importance of mentorship and work-life balance, the most empowering qualities women can bring to the table, her biggest career accomplishments and the best ways event professionals can create more gender and racial parity as well as follow a leadership path.  

What do you enjoy most about your job at Encore and your role as a female leader in the industry?

My greatest thrill is opening eyes about marketing as an essential company growth driver. As a female executive, I feel a responsibility to encourage and mentor women, not just within marketing but across the company and the industry. In fact, at this point in my career, it’s as much about who I work with and the lives I can impact as it is about the actual work. I have three grown sons and am celebrating my 40th wedding anniversary this year. I feel so fortunate to have had a life with room for marriage, children, career and even self-development and want to encourage a healthy work-life balance for other women in the industry.

What are the qualities that women bring to roles such as yours that empower them to excel?

I think having the confidence to ask for a seat at the table is key, and that stems from putting in the research and hard work to develop a unique point of view and ensuring you can articulate it and push back respectfully when necessary. Creative problem solving is a marketing mindset, but also a great leadership skill. Any decision is an opportunity to get creative and leverage keen insights for the best solution, rather than reinforcing the status quo. And to complement both of those qualities, you also need to have the self-awareness and emotional intelligence to know when to choose your battles.

Can you share some of the career accomplishments that you are most proud of.

I am incredibly proud of the team I’ve built around me in the last 12 months at Encore. We were able to pull together a team of functional experts with diverse experience. It has led to really challenging, constructive conversations that have influenced strategies and change within the organization. I’m also very proud of the 2021 rebrand of Encore, melding 13 company brands representing dozens of countries and four major solution lines into one cohesive, customer-focused brand—and all achieved during the pandemic!

Have you had any great mentors or others who have inspired you throughout your career?

My original and most influential mentor is my mother. She raised four kids to believe that we could be anything and do anything. She taught us that our only limitations would be our own confidence and work ethic. She worked in education and non-profit administration, and what I took away from her professional prowess was to never be afraid to enter any conversation. I think that left a strong impression on me.

What can event professionals do to help create more gender and racial parity in the industry? 

Creating environments where people feel like they can show up as their authentic selves and that they belong is what’s going to empower us to go the distance in furthering diversity and equity in the industry. My advice is to champion others to reach for their highest aspirations and make sure that the people sitting at the decision table don’t look just like you. Having diverse representation in every room, but especially during big decisions, is key. I’m incredibly proud that Encore has just launched the WAVE program, Women in Audio Visual Events, to train, mentor and encourage women to pursue technical roles that have been traditionally filled by men. We have a high focus on DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) in our recruitment strategy, and in addition to the WAVE program, we’re also partnering with HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), as well as veteran-specific programs to ensure a diverse talent pipeline for our future.

What are you most excited about for the coming year at Encore or otherwise within the industry?

We’ve just launched a new brand campaign called We See Solutions, which highlights our meeting professional partnerships and our team members’ abilities to offer unique solutions to improve the event experience. We know that our people are a key differentiator, and this campaign highlights the talented and caring people who make a difference in events every day.

What advice would you give to other women in the industry wishing to follow a leadership path?

First, gather experiences and opportunities in your career that build your skills, perspective and comprehensive understanding of your industry. You don’t have to love every aspect of a role to learn something of value, and ultimately you will have more choices in your career path with diverse experience. Second, bring a point of view to your role that is informed by data and research. I have had success in my career by selling ideas backed by a solid rationale. Third, don’t be discouraged if an idea you’ve presented doesn’t take hold. Consider it a win to be heard. Last, be a mentor and find a mentor. It is just as important to provide insights and experience to others who are early in their career path as it is to have someone to give you advice. Pay it forward, and you’ll soon realize how rich and rewarding your professional network can be.

Know of a dynamic female leader in the events industry who deserves some time in the spotlight? Reach out to Lori Tenny or Lisa Plummer Savas.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.