Evelyn Ingram—our VP of Sales—has earned a spot among the five Women of Influence named this year by VenuesNow Magazine! This article, by Tom Gresham, originally appeared in ‘Venues Now’ in recognition of her achievement. Original content can be found here.
Years ago, Evelyn Ingram worked for a company that provided business training for a host of career tracks. Through that work, Ingram, who had been a psychology major in college, grew familiar with the strong link between personal preferences and attributes with job satisfaction.
“The better aligned you are with what you do and the better aligned your personality is with the characteristics of the role you work in, then the greater longevity and success you will have in that career,” she said.
For Ingram, the venue industry has proved to be the kind of comfortable, logical match that makes work less a numbing grind and more a thrilling pursuit. Ingram has spent more than 15 years at EventBooking, a company based in Knoxville, Tenn., that offers booking and venue management software for operators of arenas, convention centers and performing arts centers. During her tenure, she has assumed a variety of roles, but all have shared a common characteristic — she has loved doing them.
“I’ve been very lucky,” said Ingram, now vice president of sales for EventBooking.
Ingram’s path into the venue industry was far from scripted — or even intentional. After some early jobs outside of the field, she took a break from the workforce to be a full-time mother — “the highlight of my life has been being a mom to my kids,” she said. Then, when her children grew old enough to attend school, she updated her résumé and asked for feedback from a University of Tennessee business professor who was a member of her church. He did more than review her resume; he recommended her to one of his former students, John Platillero, who had a startup enterprise still in its early stages.
Through a series of interviews, Ingram impressed Platillero and the rest of the EventBooking team and earned an entry-level position. “I was just blown away from the beginning by her maturity,” said Platillero, who is the company’s CEO.
At the time, EventBooking was a fledgling operation of just four or five people squeezed into a windowless office space. Success was far from assured, but Ingram was unfazed at the modest circumstances, Platillero said. Instead, she embraced the workplace’s scrappy, entrepreneurial spirit and dove into the myriad ways she could contribute — answering phones, assisting customers, quality-assurance-testing the software, even cleaning up around the office.
“She came in and did everything that needed to be done,” Platillero said. Ingram says she loved the opportunity to work in a startup climate, particularly because it offered her a chance to tackle such a variety of tasks and employ such a diversity of skills. “You’re able to bring everything to the table in terms of your skills and your talents and your insight,” Ingram says. “You’re able to have a real impact.”
As the company found its footing, so did Ingram, gaining increased responsibility as she built her experience in the field. She gravitated toward the client relationship side, where her friendly personality, keen listening skills and eagerness to help made her popular and helped EventBooking build and maintain its client list.
During her EventBooking career, Ingram has served in leadership positions for both the client support and sales teams, but in recent years she has narrowed her focus to the business acquisition component of sales. Platillero said Ingram excels working with clients because her desire to help them succeed is genuine.
“She really enjoys helping people,” Platillero said. “I think it’s just a very inherent quality about her. She naturally grew into the role, and I’d have been a fool to take her out of it because her natural gifts were so apparent. She’s been very successful at it, too. Everybody loves Evelyn.”
When Ingram was a college student, she volunteered at a campus performing arts center. She fell in love with the performing arts, particularly theater. She didn’t realize there was a large, sprawling industry that supported those performances, one that she could be part of. Ingram says she now revels in the opportunity to work with clients in the venue industry, because of her profound interest in their work — interest that can be traced back to that college job. “I live vicariously through my clients,” she said.
“I look at the folks that I work with and they amaze me in terms of what they do,” she says. “The number of events that they process through their buildings, the experiences that they create for people, I just love it.”
Ingram appreciates that she found her way to a company such as EventBooking, which has a family atmosphere and eschews a headlong, win-at-all-costs chase for sales in favor of building relationships, she said. She also appreciates the role that faith plays in the office and the lack of office politics that infect so many other workplaces. She believes that translates to service for the company’s clients.
“There’s a very genuine concern for each and every one of our clients,” Ingram says. “We’ve kind of defined ourselves as a service company that has software as a product.”
Ingram’s embrace of the venue industry has extended to her taking active roles in venue associations, such as IAVM and the Venue Management Association. She has served on the membership and allied committees for IAVM. Platillero said Ingram’s trade association efforts reflected her desire to see the industry thrive.
“I don’t think that you can just sit back and criticize,” Ingram said. “I think that you have to be willing to put your shoulder into whatever it is that’s important to you and this is important to me.” That inclination to play an active role to affect the industry at large stems in part from her appreciation of what it has provided her and the support it has given her in tough times.
When Ingram’s husband, Bob, had a stroke two years ago, she said her partners in the industry “surrounded me with their care and compassion.” It was a revealing moment to her. EventBooking worked with Ingram to develop a work schedule and responsibilities that allowed her to stay close to Bob. She now
works remotely, occasionally traveling to the office for meetings. Platillero said Ingram’s role was as important as ever to EventBooking.com’s success. He said the company’s growth and development since its humble beginnings take on a special meaning to him because of the long-term involvement of a colleague such as Ingram.
“When you’ve gone through lean times together, the fulfillment is so much deeper and more rewarding,” Platillero said. “It’s great to look back together and say, ‘It was worth it.’”
Ingram says she feels blessed to have played a role in the continuing success of EventBooking and to have met so many new people throughout her career. It’s been the perfect fit, she says.
“This industry is just full of people of such high caliber,” Ingram said. “I’ve always been impressed at the way that everyone watches out for one another. It’s an exceptional industry with some amazing people. I’m just lucky to be part of it.”
Other 2018 Women of Influence: