As the Director of Field Operations, not much escapes Michelle’s notice. A stickler for details, the 20-year-veteran is responsible for ensuring that all Riverview Systems events have the proper personnel and labor attached to them. Additionally, she manages all travel, outsourced freight, and everyday operations.
“Our entire field staff works tirelessly, and around the clock, so I need to be available for them at all times. If they’re working weekends and holidays, then I’m ready if they need me.”
We caught up with Michelle during a typically hectic day to find out more about the integral role she plays at Riverview.
Q: How has your role at Riverview changed over the years? For example, email burst on the scene in the early 1990s. What are some of the other biggest changes you’ve seen that have helped you support your Team Blue members?
Michelle: What’s key for us, and anyone in this industry, is constant communication. Because the various elements that occur in any event are in constant flux, we need a means of conveying these modifications in real time. We have become exceedingly better at this because technology has advanced so much in the last 20 years. Most people had email when I started, but not everyone was equipped with the means to be married to it 24/7 like we need to be. Now with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, we’re able to respond and execute much quicker and efficiently.
Q: Take us through a typical day for you?
Michelle: I deal with a good amount of “ifs.” My part, in any event, begins when our account managers are quoting events. I have to be ready with a crew if the event confirms and be prepared with a solution if the event in question grows larger, or if it decreases in size. Using the client’s budget and technical needs as a guideline, I’ll assemble an in-house team and augment with one or more of our trusted contractors.
Q: Is there a tool you must have to do your job?
Michelle: In my opinion, the Google products are the best things to happen to live events. Because there is that constant fluctuation in information, documents become null the moment you save it, send it or print it. In the past, one had to save a document and then send it. If there were any revisions, then it would be necessary to change the file name, send it again and then hope that everyone involved was working from the most current file. Google Docs allows you to keep the information fluid. You send the file invitation once, and it will always be there, allowing our team members to share and collaborate. This keeps all of us on the same page while never being concerned that the information is outdated. Similarly, I’m able to house all of our events and technician’s travel information on Google’s calendar where our employees can access it at all times.
Q: Do you recall a particular project or event in which you were especially challenged? How did you overcome the challenges?
Michelle: Challenges are the best part! Last fall we had several large events that were running concurrently: Project Rehab, Minds & Machines, and GitHub. With the help of Google Docs, I was able to keep track of the ever-changing personnel needs for each event, while keeping our technical directors updated of completions. It seemed like a labyrinth of information, but we were able to stay organized and informed.
Q: Tell us something your co-workers might be surprised to know about you?
Michelle: Working for a company where most of us have been together for 10-25 years means that there really isn’t much about each other that we don’t know. I am a new grandmother, though, but of course, everyone knows that.
Q: What is your favorite part of the job?
Michelle: The most rewarding and by far favorite part of my job is when I’m able to help facilitate the growth of one of my technicians. It’s incredibly gratifying to me when one of them comes to me looking to either gain more training in their current discipline or seeking to branch out into another. Watching them flourish, doing what they love, is the beautiful part of what I do.
Q: What’s the last movie you saw, TV show you binged, last song you downloaded and/or last book you read?
Michelle: Well I am a huge “Game of Thrones” fan, so I recently watched the last episode of Season 6. I have to say, I’m quite gratified that the women have turned the tables and are taking over all the land.