Member Spotlight – Elizabeth McCullough, C.D.E.

A CAEM member for nearly 30 years and one of our Association's staunchest supporters is retiring on June 30th.

Elizabeth McCullough has worked for the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) for 24 years.  She has handled sales, marketing and operations for the MCEE Show in Montreal, CIPHEX West in Western Canada and previously, for the CIPHEX Roadshows.  Elizabeth has also worked with the CIPH Trade Show Advisory Committee, the Industry Career Awareness Committee, CIPH Womens' Network and is a member of the CMPX Show Committee.  Throughout her career she has been involved with regional, national and international trade shows across Canada and the United States in the plumbing and heating, automotive and trucking industries.

Elizabeth has been an active member of CAEM since 1992 and served as our President from 1996 to 1998. She received the Certified Director of Expositions (C.D.E.) designation in 1997 and was inducted into CAEM’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Communications Committee member Eleni Papakonstantinou, CEM, had the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth recently about her industry  experiences and perspective.

Eleni:  For the few people who do not know you, can I ask you to share how you got started in our industry?
Elizabeth:  My first show was when I worked for an automotive buying group and at the last minute had to go to Florida to run a conference and small buying show – with no background or experience in event planning. As a buying show, exhibitors discussed product pricing and I had arranged the booths in alphabetical order which meant that I put two serious competitors side by side. I got better at that over the years and am married to one of the two exhibitors! It’s a bit of a family business too – my sister and mentor Laura Campbell  was a show manager with the Canadian National Sportsmen’s Shows in the 1980’s and then with Southern Shows based out of Charlotte, North Carolina (Laura passed away in March 2020).

Eleni:  If you had not been employed in this industry, what career path might you have chosen?
Elizabeth:  I would probably still be in event management, but I can’t really imagine doing anything other than trade shows.

Eleni: What changes have you seen in the industry over the course of your career?
Elizabeth:  A lot more women are in leadership positions so there has been a big change in terms of diversity and of course the technological changes have been massive. We have come a long way from giant floorplans on our walls, and preparing and shipping exhibitor manuals in binders.

Eleni:  What has remained constant?
Elizabeth:  The value of trade and consumer shows. From the time I became a CAEM member in 1992, people were saying that trade shows were going to die, that people can get all the information they need other ways. As we, hopefully, approach the end of the pandemic, there is so much excitement from exhibitors and attendees about getting back to in-person events. It might be a cliché, but there is no more powerful way to introduce new products, connect with customers and meet new prospects than face-to-face.

Eleni:  What has CAEM meant to you throughout your career?
Elizabeth:  Everything. From gaining the knowledge and skills to be a better show producer at seminars (and now webinars) to the unbelievable value of connections with people from all across Canada by attending conferences.  I continue to be in awe of the incredible talent and generosity of members who share their ideas and expertise.

Thank you Elizabeth for your leadership and stalwart support of CAEM over the course of the last 30 years.  You will be dearly missed, but we wish you every happiness in your well-deserved retirement.

A blast from the past!  Thank you to Elizabeth for sharing a photo of CAEM's Communique Newsletter from April 1997.