Meet Steve Mackenzie, Event Industry Expert | Ungerboeck

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Industry Experts
Industry Experts
6 Min Read

Meet Steve Mackenzie, Event Industry Expert

Meet Steve Mackenzie

How long have you worked in the industry?
37 years - with 28 of those on the technology side of the industry

What are you most excited or passionate about? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?

I love this industry, I love events. Many of the people that I have had the privilege of meeting during this time are now lifelong friends. I have set many goals over the years and have been fortunate enough to have achieved many of these, but an ongoing goal for me is to be recognized as someone who made a difference to the events industry in a positive way. I hope I get to achieve that.

I want to understand how and why you ended up working in the events industry. What were you doing before you came here? What attracted you to work in this business?

I was a young 18 year old, recently left my native New Zealand and traveling in Australia, camping in a tent at a resort on the Great Barrier Reef. I went to the bar one night and asked a person sitting there (who I assumed to be the manager) how I could get a job in a place like this. He said they didn't have any jobs available, but if I wanted to meet him there the next morning, I could rake leaves and keep the grounds tidy and in return he would provide me accommodation and meals, but no pay. I met him the next day and after a couple of hours of raking, a guy on a quad bike pulls up next to me and asked me "who are you and what do you think you are doing?" (not quite as politely as that). I said I who I was and that the manager had given me this job in exchange for food and somewhere to sleep. He simply said "I'm the manager and the person who gave you the job is the gardener, this is his job!" He went on to say I couldn't do this but if I was willing to take the same deal for no pay, I could work in the kitchen washing dishes. I said sure, and did that for several months before they eventually starting paying me!

Is there a specific project you’ve worked on in your career that you’re most proud of? Tell me the details and why it means so much to you.

Being part of the team that built VenueOps when I was working at EventBooking, that was such a great journey. Being able to take a vision, turn it into reality and then see the industry embrace it with such excitement. That was personally very gratifying.

What have been the lessons you’ve learned in the events industry?

Oh my gosh - so many lessons! Be kind, be thoughtful, treat everyone with respect. I think having a grounding in hospitality has been the cornerstone of who I am - it taught me such great customer service skills and how to interact with people. I have a favorite saying- the customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer.

Tell me a bit about what you like most about working for Ungerboeck?

My journey is probably a little different from most at the company - I had the pleasure of joining the company when it had around a dozen employees and I was the first person employed outside of the US. The growth over the next 11 years was remarkable and I was proud to contribute to that. I actually left Ungerboeck 12 years ago and spent many of those years competing (especially the last 5 or 6) and then the world turned yet again and both our companies were purchased by a Private Equity firm, bringing us together under the Ungerboeck umbrella. This allows me to be in a position to positively impact the industry through building strong relationships with industry associations, other tech partners and our clients - often by attending events or meetings all around the globe. I love this!

What are 3 words to describe Ungerboeck?

Progressive, Innovative, Inclusive.

What’s on your Wish List for the next 10 years at Ungerboeck?

I would love to see us become the industry benchmark for innovation, and also for service. We are fortunate to be in a position where we are growing from strength to strength during a time that many other businesses in this industry have had quite the opposite. I want us to use this good fortune to really become a brand that the industry relies on for thought leadership in terms of technology. I care deeply about the future of our industry, and want to ensure that Ungerboeck does everything in our power to help grow the next generations of leaders through our commitment to being educational partners to the various associations and other players.

When you think of the future of the events industry, what do you think will be the “next thing(s)” we are all talking about? What should we be concerned or worried about?

We are seeing a global shift in employment now, the pandemic made many people working in our industry rethink their work/life balances and what's important to them. So this is an immediate one we all have to address - how can we do better at providing that, especially considering the industry requires lots of work to be done outside of "standard" business hours. This is our chance to get creative with how we attract top talent back to the industry by being more thoughtful about their needs both professionally and personally.

I also think we're going to see a trend towards greater expectations of the event experience - not just turn up to a live entertainment event and watch the game/show or just attend a conference and have a couple of cocktail parties for networking. Attendees want more, and I believe technology can help drive this. Artificial intelligence, Augmented Reality - all these things will have more and more impact over the next few years.

What advice would you have for someone going into the events industry?

If you want a long and enjoyable career in this industry, give it your all. Like most things in life, you only get out of it what you put into it. This industry can offer so many amazing experiences - people pay lots of money to attend events as a release from their everyday lives - and we get to work in it day in, day out! It can be stressful, it can be hard, but its amazing! I'll never forget meeting a guest at a resort I worked at many years ago and he said "it must be so great working in a place that people love coming to, I'm a dentist and no-one comes to see me for fun!" Remember that!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

Not many people know my first paying job was as a cartoonist at a local newspaper in New Zealand. I always loved drawing growing up, so it was amazing to be able to draw and get paid for it!

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Maybe "I've been everywhere" by Johnny Cash, or "On the Road Again" by Willie Nelson? haha I don't know! Maybe "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers as I like to think I am a supporter of people. Now if we are talking Karaoke - then "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield is my go to!