Inside New InfoComm COO Heidi Voorhees’ Strategic Focus

Published: March 29, 2017
InfoComm International chief operating officer Heidi Voorhees

Heidi Voorhees has only been on the job as InfoComm International’s new chief operating officer for a few weeks, so she’s still learning as much as she can about the industry at this point.

But her early impression of her new employer and the industry it serves are overwhelmingly positive.

“I’m starting to learn and appreciate how broad this industry is and how much it touches everything we do,” says Voorhees, who took over as COO in mid-March after more than 20 years of experience in association management and an MBA from Northwestern University. “It’s eye-opening and exciting.”

For Voorhees, her new job represents “the perfect blend of operations, events and management” and follows a couple of positions at tech startups, one of which ran out of money and the other of which “wasn’t really a good fit.” She had a recruiter looking for jobs on her behalf when the InfoComm job opened at the end of 2016.

“I was looking to be the CEO of a smaller company, COO of a larger company or doing something in the events space,” says Voorhees, 47, a native of Michigan who spent about 25 years in the Chicago area. “It was very clear from my first meeting with [InfoComm executive director and CEO] Dave [Labuskes] that we have very similar values in terms of how we should treat our members and employees.

“Our board [of directors] is very much futuristic and strategic-focused. Associations that have that going for them are the ones that are successful in moving things forward,” she says.

Voorhees met senior VP of expositions Jason McGraw about five years ago at an industry trade show and the two had conversations about InfoComm as an organization and the group’s largest annual trade show, typically held in June in either Orlando or Las Vegas.

[related]“I’ve always known about InfoComm,” says Voorhees. “It’s a group that has a very good reputation and the show they put on is one of the largest in the country.”

One of Voorhees main responsibilities out of the gate as InfoComm’s COO is supporting Labuskes and the InfoComm board in implementing the new strategic plan. For now, she’s more in listening mode than in taking action on any of the initiatives, but says the fall could be a different story.

“At that point, we’ll revisit where we’ve been and where we need to be,” says Voorhees. “Right now, I’m in more of an observer point of view, with the goal being to make sure everything we do has value for our audience.

“I bring an outside perspective, and I really want to focus on the experience we want our attendees to have at our events,” she says. That said, Voorhees praised McGraw and his team for their abilities to put on a show that’s larger than any she ever oversaw, perhaps almost double the size with almost 40,000 attendees roaming the Orange County Convention Center and Las Vegas Convention Center every year.

“I’ve identified some areas to look at and evaluate but I’m trying to spend my first few months listening to what everyone has to say and see if what they say is what I see,” says Voorhees. “I’ve formulated some ideas of where some opportunities may lie but I want to see what other people think first.”

Voorhees already knows how she’ll feel when she gets to Orlando for InfoComm 2017.

“I’ll get to the event and be giddy I get paid to be at trade shows,” she says.

Posted in: News

Tagged with: InfoComm, Must-Read

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