Women at the Helm: Yancy Weinrich, Chief Growth Officer, RX
Sometimes the path to a rewarding career is made up of happy accidents. Like many who work in the trade show industry these days, Yancy Weinrich “fell into” the profession via the jewelry industry, working for the American Gem Society and exhibiting at jewelry trade shows. One of those major events happened to be JCK, a leading annual jewelry event produced by RX, which later hired her to sell exhibit space for its jewelry portfolio comprising JCK and its sister event, Luxury.
“I can’t say that I ever thought I would be in jewelry or events—I really fell into both,” Weinrich explains. “I was super intrigued with being on the trade show side of things but able to use my jewelry knowledge and relationships in that industry while selling and building our shows for many years. That said, I have loved [working in both industries], as I’ve made many long-lasting friendships.”
Over the next 17-plus years, Weinrich’s talents shone through as her career at RX grew and evolved, taking her from sales to a series of vice president roles to COO and finally, chief growth officer, a newly created role she landed in July of 2020 that includes overseeing strategy, management, sales, marketing, digital and activations for RX’s 25 U.S. B2B shows and events, including JCK, PGA Show, Vision Expo East and West, Interphex, G2E and ISC.
“I love that we get to see our work that we’ve done all year ‘come to life’ in person,” she says. “I am an entrepreneur at heart and realize the importance of our shows for our customers and am passionate about helping small to medium-sized exhibitors grow their businesses. The event industry has taken me around the world, I have learned multiple industries, and I love working with the deadlines of a ‘show has to go on.’ It’s a perfect fit for my personality: fast-paced, meeting new people all the time and of course, the multi-tasking!”
TSNN had a chance to catch up with this incredibly dynamic event professional to get her thoughts about what it takes to be a successful female leader, the achievements she’s most proud of and why prioritizing self-care is the secret sauce to long-term success.
While gender diversity in the leadership roles within the trade show industry has been shifting in a more equitable direction, what are the biggest challenges of being a female leader in a historically male-dominated industry?
I am a huge supporter of women, and believe that it takes not only women, but also men to understand the skills and benefits that we bring to the table and for them to become allies for women. Of course, women face the challenge of generally taking on more of the household responsibilities, the kids and elderly parent responsibilities, so the balancing act that we all try to keep up with are challenges that create, in my opinion, more anxieties than for men. That said, the ability to multi-task and balance many different roles and be empathetic by nature are tremendous assets that when harnessed in the workplace can be very powerful.
What are the qualities that women bring to roles such as yours that empower them to excel at their jobs?
Women in general have more empathy and are able to multi-task well. The women that I have seen excel in roles in the trade show industry are passionate about their customers, understand budgeting, and are very good organizers and ‘maestros,’ or conductors, leading and coordinating all aspects of their areas of responsibilities. They also are great mentors and coaches, prioritizing seeking good talent and supporting them to ensure they are able to rise up through the organization, putting their own needs aside and looking out for the needs of others and the business.
What are some of your biggest career accomplishments, and what are you most proud of?
Of course, winning deals, signing big customers, growing portfolios and shows and winning internal awards among my peers are pretty exciting, but the career accomplishments I am most proud of are things where I am giving back. I’ve served on many boards, including being a past president of the International Women’s Jewelry Association, have been a mentor to many, a career coach, and through our jewelry shows, have chaired a committee where we have given back over $6 million to the jewelry industry to help organizations that are doing good. These volunteer efforts really give me pleasure when I can make a difference where it really matters. Also, through these efforts, I have met the most incredible people who have often become mentors and friends who have helped me with career advice along the way. These positions and roles add a different dimension to my working life, and I am most proud to be a part of them.
In the wake of the waning pandemic, what were some of the key decisions you made and strategies you employed to navigate the ship and motivate your teams to truly excel?
Like many others, we shifted quickly to virtual events and digital offerings. What I am proud of is that while we were implementing these new strategies, we were learning what worked and what did not. Even more importantly, we were brave enough to shift away from offerings that provided little value to our customers, and in some cases, that meant leaving money on the table. We’ve become a much more nimble organization and learned to be okay with understanding what we know today may change tomorrow or next week. This has allowed our people to flourish by stepping out of their comfort zones, be more creative and bring many more ideas to the table. My goal is to support this new culture and keep it energized as we move into the future where we are running our events face-to-face again.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned over the past two years—both professionally as a leader and personally?
The biggest lesson was that for me to lead and be present for my folks, I needed to take care of myself first. I used many tools including more workouts, meditation, journaling and prioritizing sleep. Those days that I woke up well-rested and with a clear head were much easier to focus and drive forward. As we have started events again, it feels really good to be back to ‘normal,’ but I don’t want to lose the learnings and feelings we underwent during those two very challenging years. Professionally, I learned to be more vulnerable, admitting when I didn’t have the answers, and worked very hard to ensure that my team and everyone who I touched knew that they needed to prioritize their own families and self-care.
What can event professionals do to help create more gender (and racial) parity in the trade show industry?
The first step is to make sure we are talking about it—really talking about it—and engaging with others and diving into the conversation, even when it can be uncomfortable. I have been enlightened myself in the last 18 months as more folks have found their voices and are really taking a stand. At RX US, we have created three Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s), American Ancestry Network, RX Pride and Women Connected. Besides all of the internal work that we are doing to be a better organization, we have dozens of examples of where we have diversity and inclusion initiatives front-and-center at our events and shows.
What advice would you give to women in the industry wishing to follow a leadership path?
Be yourself, be authentic—transparency and building trust are critical to building loyalty with your teams and developing your network. Your network, or as I like to call it, your personal advisory board, is a group of friends, colleagues and business people from your network who you can trust and depend on to help you work through issues and celebrate your wins. And finally, be patient in your career. Things can change very quickly, and you can find yourself with new roles, promotions and new responsibilities that you weren’t even expecting—this is all part of your personal growth. This advice was given to me years ago, and I still live by it!
Know of an amazing woman leader who deserves some time in the spotlight? Reach out to email@example.com