Up Close and Personal: My Interview with My Vice President and Head of Global Wedding & Event Planning, Kathy Romero.
July 15, 2014
Today in my Up Close and Personal Series, I am profiling my amazing Vice President and Head of Global Wedding & Event Planning, Kathy Romero. Read her candid responses to my questions (and feel free to ask her any questions in the comment section below).
How does working long hours affect your home life? Does it impact your partner, spouse, children?
I feel that I’ve almost mastered the art of the “work-life-balance”. Notice, I say almost. Truthfully, it’s all about having a solid support system, and that starts at home. I believe that when your home is in order, everything else falls into place. My husband is my number-one fan and has a very high level of respect for what I do. This, of course, makes it easier for me to fulfill the demands of my clients. It’s important to note that I understand that my work does not define who I am, my family does. Holding onto this understanding always puts things into perspective for me when it comes time to prioritize.
Is there a time you considered quitting PB designs? Why?
Yes! I’ll mention only a few moments in the spirit of keeping it brief. You have to understand that, unlike some of your other employees, I was self-employed and happy for almost five years before I started here at PBD. I was not actively seeking new opportunities, and the thought of closing my business had not even crossed my mind. Not to mention, it’s not easy to leave your brand to nurture another. Additionally, this was not just any brand; the offer came from none other than PBD. I was humbled by the proposal, but equally scared. This was a huge undertaking. I truly didn’t know if I was good enough, and I found myself doubting my abilities more than I’d like to admit. When faced with very difficult clients, I’ve asked myself if the torture is truly worth it. Yes, I said torture, because at times that’s how it feels. Over the past 18 years, I’ve had my share of tough clients, but none can compare to some of the ones who I’ve planned weddings and events for here. Some of them are so demanding where, at times, I’ve felt that offering my firstborn would not be enough!
If you had to change one (or many things about me) what would they be?
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I know that you care about others’ feelings and that you are a mentor at heart, but don’t coddle your employees. Tell them how you feel about their performance, otherwise they won’t grow. Give it to me straight and correct me when I’m wrong as many times as you need to. Please do not hide your feelings to protect mine.
What was the worst moment you have ever had on the job? (Tell us why).
The worst moment that I’ve had on this job was not too long ago. I had a very demanding client that, no matter how many hours I worked or how diligently I tried to please them, nothing was good enough. For the first time in my life I had a client curse me out. It took all the willpower in the world, and tons of professionalism, not to curse right back. I felt violated, vulnerable, and impotent all at once. I cried immediately after the incident. In fact, I cried myself to sleep that night. As you can imagine the planning journey after that was not easy. I had to fight for respect and rebuild my self-esteem, as I pushed through what seemed to be the longest months of my life.
What is the biggest misconception you feel people have about working in this business/at this company?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions other planners have is that our clients have no budget limitations and that they spend frivolously. Although we get to create magic due to the abundance of resources we have, we don’t have carte blanche to spend our clients’ money. For the most part, our clients have money because they know how to keep it and are wise about how they spend it. In addition, the life of a luxury planner is not all about, travel, delectable foods, and five star hotels. A luxury planner must be prepared to explain every element of a wedding, as well as the why behind the expense. It’s not easy to sell million dollar weddings, and it takes a very dedicated and talented team to create them.
I have always said we are like a family, and with that comes some high emotional moments. What do you feel about our company structure (or lack thereof at times)?
Every organization is a work in progress. You have to try more than once sometimes to get the recipe right. I like the organic nature of our organization’s structure, but at times I crave the hierarchy. I think we are getting there though. Our company is blessed with an outstanding number of skilled employees and there is no doubt that we have one of the best teams in the industry. However, if I could change one thing, it would be the lack of confidence some of my coworkers have. If we could get passed that, there would be no stopping us.
Do you feel that you are being paid a fair salary or do you feel you deserve more?
Speaking candidly, there is no salary that could ever compensate for the time lost away from my family. However with that said, this is a decision I have made consciously with my family and I am extremely happy about it.
If I were to give you a raise, how much would you ask for?
All I will say is that I aim high! Whether or not I get it will depend on my efforts and results.
Thank you so much, Kathy.
(Photo Courtesy of John Labbe)