IN HIS WORDS: GARY BEDIGAN TAKES ON A NEW ROLE AT GREAT PERFORMANCES
By Great Performances
We love celebrating at Great Performances, and and most of all, we love celebrating people. It’s one of our core values that helps support our mission to Unleash Joy through Genuine Hospitality.
One of the ways we support our people is by allowing them the chance to grow and develop within the organization, including moving to different departments. We have a lot of success stories about how people have moved from one department to another. Today, we’re sharing Gary Bedigan’s story and how he moved from operations and living in the “venue world” to sales and living in the events side of Great Performances.
Gary Bedigan joined Great Performances in 2011, working throughout the venues on the operations side at Great Performances before joining the sales team. We interviewed him to hear his story and insights on growing at Great Performances.
After 10 years with other organizations in the industry, I joined Great Performances in 2011 as the Venue Manager at BAM. It connected my passion for the arts and hospitality into one role. During the first two years, we made some impactful changes to our operations and how we put forward services at BAM. My interaction with different departments internally at Great Performances and externally through our client and vendors expanded my skills and scope. I remember sitting with Mindy Birnbaum (Chief Legal Officer at GP) for hours reviewing contracts and handbooks and felt like I was getting a junior law degree, but the skills I learned have proven invaluable many times over the years.
Fast forward 11 years later, I was proud to be part of multiple openings, structural changes, bids for new business, unique partnerships, and finding the balance of operating as a for-profit company within the walls of our nonprofit partners.
Why did you choose to change roles within GP?
During Covid, I was fortunate to stay on board at GP in a modified role planning reopenings, going after new business, and staying engaged with our cultural partners. Like so many of us, Covid gave me time to think about what’s next – was I happy with what I was doing? Was I challenged? Could I continue to grow? Was I in the right place for me, GP, and the clients I served? I got curious.
I began to explore opportunities within and outside of GP. As the pandemic eased and we worked our way through the reopenings of multiple venues and cultural partners, I realized that so much had changed within the world in a short time period. It reinforced my belief that it was the right time for me to make a move.
Tell us about the process?
First and foremost, I was reminded that communication is key. Being open to talking to colleagues, leaders, and friends inside and outside GP was critical. Each person had a unique perspective and insight on how we grow as individuals.
Through my conversations, I felt drawn towards the sales side of the business as a way to complement the operational skills I had developed during my time working on the venue side of Great Performances. I worked closely with my manager and with the head of sales to structure a transition that would support my previous role while allowing me to take on the new role with minimal disruption.
How does one pack up a life and mindset gained through one side of the company and move to the “one night stand” side of the company? Through collaboration with colleagues and trusted partners. While it wasn’t necessarily easy, it was made easier by the support across all parts of the organization – truly a testament to our core values.
What’s it like being on the Sales Team?
I could not be prouder of the work this team does. I knew that coming on board, I would be the junior member. After years of being a senior member on the venue team, it was a strange and humbling experience. However, the level of support and collaboration among the team has been incredible, and the excitement I felt was refreshing. Additionally, the fast pace of events and the amount of work, detail, craftsmanship, and time that goes into each event is like nothing I have ever seen. Working in the venue world, we saw a sliver of what would happen for an event at our venues. Seeing these events take shape from the sales and event side of GP is incredible.
You’ve been on the sales team for almost a year now – can you describe your year?
When Shaun, now Chief Revenue Officer, and I were reflecting that it had been a year since I joined his team, he asked me how I felt (apparently, tired was not the word he wanted to hear). I could honestly say that while it has been tiring at times, it’s mostly been incredibly exciting and energizing.
In the year that I’ve been on the sales team, I’ve managed more than 200 events with more than 31,000 guests. Some highlights include the Oceans, Food, and Finance Dinner, which we’ll be doing again in September; a multi-day holiday event for Brookfield Properties; Representative Jeffries’ 2023 inauguration, the VALRHONA 100th Anniversary Celebration, and most recently, the Hot Bread Kitchen Fête for 15.
Any closing thoughts for us?
None of this would have been possible without my event producer, Kevin Jaeger, who makes me look much better than I am; and the support of my colleagues, the leadership team at GP, and all of our partners.
My move from one department to another gave talented team members the opportunity to grow, expand, and share their skill sets. The move was bittersweet to say the least – I loved what I did with the venues and was sad to go, but seeing colleagues including Pia Tedesco, Cesar Parra, and Taina Alves take on new challenges was so exciting to watch.
It’s also been exciting to join the ranks of Mark Jackson, former cater waiter, and Vicky Traegler, venue catering manager, join the sales team (or “the dark side”).
And finally, I encourage everyone who’s curious about what’s next for them to explore both internal and external opportunities. Speak with your colleagues, speak with HR, and check out some departments that you’re curious about. Most importantly, keep challenging yourself.