On the Job: Event Manager’s Goal Is Customer Satisfaction

Posted: June 17, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Beth Grohnke
Beth Grohnke
Creative Services photo

For Beth Grohnke, there’s no such thing as a typical day. Mason’s event manager might be setting up meetings with current and prospective clients one day and negotiating with hotels and working on special projects the next.

Although she came to Mason in 1989, Grohnke has been part of the Office of Events Management (OEM) team for 12 years. In her job, she has helped coordinate university events that involve the Mason community as well as on-campus events developed by other businesses and organizations.

“While event planning is stressful and detailed, customer satisfaction is the focus of my job. I take on these responsibilities for others so that, hopefully, their event appears flawless,” says Grohnke.

She adds, “I’m amazed at how much I have learned and how much I have yet to learn about cultures other than my own from all the international people I have had the opportunity to meet.”

Her main responsibilities include managing the logistics of each event and making sure that everything runs smoothly. The logistics might involve securing a location and specific rooms for the event, providing accommodations for those attending the event, setting up catering, arranging for audiovisual and technology requests if needed or advising the posting of directional signs.

Although Commencement is always her biggest event of the year, Grohnke has been involved in other large events such as groundbreaking ceremonies for new buildings, summer camps, the Martin Luther King Day celebration and admissions open houses and preview events.

Since outside organizations often use the university as a venue for their own events, Grohnke has helped coordinate campaign rallies, gubernatorial debates, math Olympiads, association conferences, Nobel Prize receptions, walks and runs, Capitol Hill events, trade shows and public television broadcasts.

Although most events that take place on campus are planned, oftentimes Grohnke will get a call late in the afternoon about an important event that must take place the next day. “That is when the whole campus really pulls together as one community to accomplish a major goal – it’s so exciting.”

Grohnke has a long list of reasons why she likes her job: the family atmosphere of the office, the relaxed atmosphere of academia, the students she runs into every day, the gratitude she receives from clients when an event is over and the opportunities she has been given at Mason.

An aspect of her job that Grohnke considers unique is that after stressful events, the OEM office celebrates together, which helps to relieve stress. The staff also participates in activities together outside the office.

During her 19 years at Mason, she has been able to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and has plans to pursue a master’s degree.

“Even though I work in Events Management, I feel that I use my psychology degree every day,” says Grohnke. “Having a background in psychology helps me understand people better — which ultimately helps me develop stronger relationships with my clients.”

Before coming to Mason, Grohnke was an administrative assistant for 17 years at the Export-Import Bank of the United States in Washington, D.C. In that job, she worked with economists, lawyers, engineers and CEO William J. Casey, who later became the director of the CIA. She also worked in the White House for a short time when President Jimmy Carter was in office.

Write to at