Students of SDSU’s Meeting and Event Planning Professional Certificate program consistently cite the program’s biggest strength as its instructors — veterans of the industry with decades of wisdom and experiences to share. Instructor Clara Carter is the perfect example, as well as a 1998 graduate of the program. Today, she is president and owner of Multi-Cultural Convention Services Network Inc., a full-service meeting and event management company based in San Diego, with a focus on what Carter saw as an underserved segment of the market — the ethnic conference and its attendees.
Carter further distinguished herself as the creator and producer of the inaugural Women in Tourism and Hospitality Awards Luncheon (W.I.T.H.) in 2016, which promotes the contributions of women in the industry. For her work in this regard, Carter was honored in 2017 with a Clara Carter Day proclamation presented by City Council President Myrtle Cole, the City Council members, and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Carter answered a few questions about her career and SDSU’s Meeting and Event Planning program.
What’s the full scope of services offered by Multi-Cultural Convention Services Network Inc.?
We do global site selection and contract negotiations for groups and organizations seeking exciting destinations for meetings, conferences, and conventions. We also do special event planning — golf tournaments, milestone celebrations, family reunions, retreats, and group leisure travel. We can be as involved as the client needs, often working with their existing staff and/or taking the lead in planning the entire meeting/event from concept to development, with our core value being hotel sourcing for diverse meetings.
How did you come to be an instructor with SDSU’s Meeting and Event Planning program?
I guess you can say I was at the right place at the right time and the opportunity presented itself and I accepted. It’s all about your resources and connections and building trustworthy relationships with people who respect your work.
How much has the industry changed since you graduated from SDSU’s Meeting and Event planning program in 1998?
Oh my, I must say, the ever evolving world of technology!
What do you think are the program’s biggest strengths?
The dynamic and well-seasoned professional instructors and the variety of courses offered.
What’s a key takeaway from your course — Meeting Planning Basics?
Using the power of the OMR (Outcomes, Methods and Resources) proven strategy in planning.
What’s the biggest eye-opener for students after they complete their assignment of planning a hypothetical event?
How much goes into the planning process — all the key elements and level of detail.
Do you have a favorite success and/or fail anecdote (or two) that you share about your experience in the industry?
Yes, two of my favorite success stories as a meeting planner were creating the first Multicultural FAM Tour for the City of San Diego and being selected as a host committee member of the SuperBowl XXXVII in San Diego.
What are the top qualities that a meeting and event planner needs to have?
Being efficient, highly detailed, creative, knowledgeable, a good listener, amazing negotiation skills, and remaining in control.
What are students most surprised to learn about this career path?
That there are so many avenues in which to venture; and the moment they realize their existing skills are transferable, they just need to apply them.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The opportunity of meeting some amazing people, creating value for my clients, and providing exceptional service and experiences that exceed their expectations!
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Sharing my “body of knowledge,” resources and experiences, in hopes of helping make a difference in their journey as a meeting and event planner.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Hummm … a court reporter, haha! I studied court reporting which lead me to a career in the corporate world.
Anything you’d like to add?
Yes, always be true to your own authentic brand — go out in the world and create exceptional experiences!