Dallas, TX – Jacqueline Russo, vice president of the Swiss logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel Inc., became a legend in her prime when she was named the 2010 “Legend of the Industry” by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).
The honor includes a headliner appearance at the IAEE Robert L. Krakoff Future Leaders Institute August 6-8 at the JW Marriott Hill Country in San Antonio. The event will provide up-and-coming executives of the trade show industry face-to-face time with Russo, an established leader who has a strong appreciation for the benefits of being mentored and supported by company and industry leadership.
“Strong leadership is the key to success in any business,” Russo told Trade Show Executive. “Leaders and mentors make the difference.”
Participants in the Krakoff Institute are selected based on their career history in the trade show industry as well as their commitment to remain involved in the Institute and mentor their younger colleagues. Russo’s resume of 20 years in the industry also includes a long history with IAEE. She was chair of the organization in 2003, currently serves on the Audit Committee and International Special Interest Group, and continues to be a frequent speaker at industry events.
Russo, who was back at her desk in suburban Chicago May 14 after her latest trip to a major trade show, said she wanted to help attendees at the Future Leaders Institute lose their own fear of trying out new ideas. “I make mistakes every day,” she said. “It’s not because I am bad at this, but in the trade show industry, there are so many things that come at you at the same time.”
“Often, my Plan B is better than my Plan A,” Russo added.
Russo said the key for rising executives is to create an environment in which innovation is encouraged and appreciated, while the price of failure is not so extreme that people think twice about proposing something new. “As long as it’s a well thought-out risk,” she said.
Russo noted that lower-level employees may have other priorities outside the job that make them better followers than leaders. “People work for different reasons,” she said. “The most difficult thing you will run into is the people you want to lead who don’t want to go out on a limb.”
Russo credited her experience with IAEE with helping her overcome concerns about taking on leadership roles on her own initiative without waiting to be handed the job. Solid leaders, she told TSE, are not in short supply in the trade show industry. At the same time, people who become great mentors are generally open to a newcomer who wants to take charge of a particular project, even though she may be from a freight company instead of a trade show organizer. “I was thrilled every time I was offered the opportunity to take a leadership role with IAEE, no matter what it was,” she said. “But no one is going to be waiting to give you that position because there are a lot of great leaders out there already.”