Justine Friedman is the Event Sourcing Manager for The Linux Foundation, “a neutral home and unmatched support for cutting-edge projects — fostering burgeoning communities that breed collaboration, power innovation, and attract the best engineering talent in the world.” Justine’s career began in luxury hotel conference management, amassing over 20 years of experience in the meetings and events space. In all my conversations with Justine, she has provided invaluable insights into the inner workings and needs of LF’s several programs. Justine and her team plan meetings for up to 100-20,000 attendees. As they navigate the challenges ahead, Justine remains hopeful! Her visionary approach has kept their meetings afloat, adapting where needed.
Justine shares her take on the future of meetings and the importance of building long-lasting relationships.
JN: You are currently sourcing for some 2021 meetings for The Linux Foundation, how has your position as the Event Sourcing Manager evolved in the last 9 months?
JF: I am very lucky that my role hasn’t changed too much. I am still working on events in 2021 and beyond but I do dedicate additional time to the “what if” factor. We are all hopeful that we will be back in person soon, however, we need to think about and plan for any changes. I do check-ins with all my venue partners and destination reps, I research government regulations, vaccine timelines and airline policies. I reach out to my network to get a feel for the industry and I take advantage of all the great content out there. So many destinations, venues, and hotel brands have put together a wealth of information to address what is going on now and how we will move forward.
JN: How has The Linux Foundation responded and adapted its meetings to the current crisis?
JF: I am on a team with brilliant individuals that pivoted very quickly and gracefully to virtual platforms this year. Although the method of which we deliver events has changed for now, we spent a lot of time ensuring we did not miss the key touch points our events are known for: inclusivity, engagement, critical thinking, collaboration, and connection.
JN: More than ever, the importance of partnerships and relationships in key markets is crucial. How has it benefited you in your role?
JF: The relationships I have fostered along the way have been invaluable to me. These bonds created a safe space for us to be comfortable and open and to come up with creative solutions that benefit all parties involved. It’s also afforded me the opportunity to learn how my partners work, how decisions are made, and what the goals are for each organization. Really understanding the people you work with is a wonderful gift. You will learn so much from them and, in turn, you can be a better partner. I believe all parties should walk away from the table happy and I think building relationships helps achieve this for everyone.
JN: What was some advice you shared with your team as you navigated this crisis?
JF: There is always a solution, and even if we don’t know what that is at the very moment, one will come in due time. An old colleague of mine used to say, “don’t worry twice”, and I have been carrying this lesson with me for 15+ years. Don’t worry or stress before something may happen. Take that energy and make it action; research, ask questions, come up with a solution with the people around you. You will be amazed at what you will achieve and you will feel much better doing it.
JN: Other key advice to share with meeting professional and destinations alike?
JF: As we enter a new phase of events, however this may look and the changes that may ensue, I believe simply going back to the basics is a good place for all of us to review again. Overcommunicate, listen, be candid, seek to understand, and always, always respond in a timely manner. Not only do these save time and issues later on, it’s respectful to the person and the work they are trying to accomplish and it’s a great way to create a long-lasting partnership.