Kristina Buckenberger, CMP, Senior Meetings Manager, Event Planning, Kellogg Company, had 10 years of hotel experience that primed her for Meeting Management at the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, MI. She started her career in 2001 as a Meeting Manager and was promoted to Senior Meeting Manager in 2003.
An MMPI member for over 15 years she has been active as an Ambassador, a Mentor, served on the Board of Directors as Director of Monthly Programs and Director of Education and is currently on the Member/Growth Committee.
“I like living in a small town because I enjoy the peaceful, relaxed pace of life. In Marshall, people are very friendly and hospitable. Marshall is also a town where generations of families have grown up and now raise their own families. People support each other and the community. I am not sure I would have this same feeling of unity in a large city.”
Midwest Meetings: How did you get involved in the meetings industry? What made you choose this for a career?
Kristina Buckenberger: I graduated from Central Michigan University with an undergraduate degree in Commercial Recreation and Facility Management. When I was in college, I wanted to plan recreational events at large hotels. I started out as a sales manager at a Michigan resort but later decided I liked the meeting planning aspect more than sales.
MM: Tell us about your role at Kellogg. How many meetings do you plan a year?
KB: I am a Senior Meetings Manager, Event Planning in Travel and Meetings Services. I love being part of our meeting management team. Together, the group plans and executes 700 to 800 meetings a year for the company. I plan 100 meetings a year, of which 70 to 80 percent are held outside Battle Creek, Michigan, where Kellogg headquarters is located. Along with my team members, I source meeting locations, send out requests for proposals for future event sites and handle the budget for each event. I travel to locations for 50 percent of the events I plan. While at the event, I manage all logistic-related activities. Once the meeting is over, I finalize billing and reconcile invoices.
MM: What do you love about the meeting industry?
KB: We work for an awesome company. Everyone I meet when traveling has a nice memory about Kellogg, which is amazing. We have a great team that has been together for a long time. In general, the industry is fast-paced and changes every day, so it’s never boring.
MM: What would you like to change?
KB: I spend a lot of time away from home. Working in the hospitality business can make managing work-life balance challenging. As I’m on call 24/7, it is certainly not a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. When you are with a group, anyone can reach out at any time with any emergency.
MM: What do you see as the future of meetings and what trends do you see emerging?
KB: Social media is having a huge impact in the travel industry. When we’re planning events we keep in mind how we’re communicating with attendees and how attendees are communicating with each other. When I network with other professionals at other corporations, it’s interesting how social media helps them to work smarter. Technology is so important. We have to make sure locations offer Wi-Fi and continuous connectivity.
MM: Who or what inspires you?
KB: My family is a constant source of inspiration. I come from a small family. My parents are retired teachers - each worked for nearly 40 years. They are amazing people. My dad will be 90 this year. He goes to the gym three days a week.
MM: What is your favorite food?
KB: Mexican food. I could eat it every day of the week.
MM: What is your favorite vacation spot?
KB: Any place warm with a beach and a golf course. I’m looking forward to a trip to Ireland and Scotland because I’ve never been there before.
MM: What was your first job?
KB: I worked after school in the office of the community education director. I answered the switchboard for the entire school district and registered people for community education classes.
MM: People would be surprised to know…
KB: I really am a small-town homebody at heart. I love the balance that it provides in my life. I get to experience big city traveling, but I love it when I’m home.