Imagine yourself starting your career, eager to learn and meet as many seasoned industry professionals as possible. Maybe you’re nervous or concerned you don’t have the time or resources to educate and network yourself efficiently. Don’t worry. We got you covered.

UpStart provides education and networking for young professionals and students just beginning their careers in the venue management profession. Powered by the IAVM Foundation in partnership with Western Kentucky University, UpStart participants learn valuable career skills from industry leaders while making connections with executives from major venues.  

UpStart is free for young professionals, students, and faculty and is made possible through the support of IAVM members, venue industry leaders, and other partners that have supported the IAVM Foundation’s Build An Amazing Future campaign. It is US$35 for other VenueConnect attendees. Prior registration is required.


UpStart: Game Changer 
Monday, July 23 | 9:00 AM - 10:15 AM | Room 714A

Speakers: Bob Hunter, CVE, Senior Projects Advisor, President's Office, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment; Mark Gnatovic, Senior Vice President, SearchWide; Robyn Williams, Executive Director, Portland'5 Centers for the Arts; Todd Hunt, CVE, Executive Director, BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center; Doug Booher, CVE, Executive Director of University Events and IU Auditorium, Indiana University; Abbie Jo Lady, Marketing Director, Show Me Center; Erik Waldman, CVE, Sr. Director of Client and Guest Services, Georgia World Congress Center Authority; Lynda Reinhart, Director, Stephen C. O'Connell Center, UF; Mac Campbell, CVP, Deputy Director, Baltimore Convention Center; Jamie Galileo, Senior Vice President Facilities, Vivint Smart Home Arena; Jim Wynkoop, CVE, General Manager, Spectra Venue Management - Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall; Michael Marion, CVE, General Manager, Verizon Arena; Steve Harper, CVE, Melbourne and Olympic Parks;Angie Teel, CMP, Director of Event Experiences, Spectra Venue Management at the St. Charles Convention Center; Bill "Sparky" Bavirsha, Associate Athletic Director/General Manager UIC Sports Complex, University of Illinois at Chicago;

The kickoff session of UpStart 2018, programming specifically designed for venue management students, VenueConnect volunteers, and Young Professionals, brings this dynamic group of aspiring executives with industry leaders for a fast-paced (think speed networking) Q&A. Participants will rotate every 15 minutes to speak with a new pair of venue management executives to ask questions and get valuable insights to learn from some of IAVM’s best.


UpStart: Keynote Address: Looking Both Ways at the Corner of Practical and Applied
Tuesday, July 24 | 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM | Room 714B

Speakers: Bobby Goldwater, Looking Both Ways at the Corner of Practical and Applied, Georgetown University Sports Industry Management Program/The Goldwater Group

Madison Square Garden. STAPLES Center. Bringing MLB back to DC. Georgetown University. Innovating in the industry. Engaging in the classroom. Bobby Goldwater shares his passion and his experience in venue and event management with observations illustrating principles that can be practically applied throughout a successful career. After accomplishing a lot and witnessing so much, Bobby has a real-life story for almost anything. And you can ask him.


UpStart: Skill Building: Communication Tools that Work for Work
Wednesday, July 25 | 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM | Room 714B

Speakers: Jason Stitt, Facilitator, Stitt Feld Handy Group;

How does a young executive make a positive impression in a meeting, with a business associate, with a supervisor and/or with peers? There is a toolkit of communication techniques that are available to be utilized so, like anyone who is constructing something, a young professional can start building a successful career by using them strategically and effectively. Jason Stitt will share his expert advice on best practices in developing all-important communication skills.

Thank you to our global partners.