Apr 8, 2024

Celebrating Vice President of People Experience, Chelsea Sullivan, amid her BizBash 40 Under 40 Win!

Culture Celebrating Vice President of People Experience, Chelsea Sullivan, amid her BizBash 40 Under 40 Win!

Every year, the leading events trade publication, BizBash, honors a class of 40 trailblazers who are impacting the industry and inspiring the next generation of leaders, all before they turn 40. 

POWER’s Vice President of People Experience, Chelsea Sullivan, is one of this year’s trailblazers. We sat down with our resident experience architect and vibe curator to get a closer look into who she is, what inspires her, and what she’s most proud of. 

The Woman Behind the Curtain

woman presenting news on virtual stage
During one of POWER’s monthly Town Halls, Chelsea delivers some announcements about the company’s annual Quest music festival to more than 3,500 employees.

As Vice President of People Experience, I’m responsible for…curating the employee experience at POWER. The People Experience (PX) team oversees the strategy and execution of over 250 annual unique events, workshops, meetings, and more in an effort to foster an inclusive, fulfilling, and fun experience.

women sitting on stage during a conference speaking panel
Chelsea speaking on a panel during Power’s first Women’s Summit – an event that looks very different from the caliber of events Chelsea and her team create today.

My career started… at POWER as an intern in our Contact Center in 2012, but I quickly felt this calling to do something different, something that would allow me to tap into my creativity. In 2013, I started Power’s Special Events division (now People Experience), convincing the executive team that this would have major impact on POWER’s bottom line — its people.

My day-to-day is… very different! — whether it’s traveling for site visits, strategizing on upcoming events, mapping out budgets, designing the look, feel and environmental or on the ground executing an event. That’s why building a routine has been very important to me both in the office and on the road.

people posing for a group photo on a beacg
Chelsea and the People Experience team in Mexico — the creative masterminds who plan and execute Power’s annual Quest music festival and retreat.

I’m most proud of… the effort I have  put in to work on myself. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2021. It was rare and it was sitting on the nerves impacting my speech, vision and memory. The removal of the tumor was very dangerous and risky, and it required me to step away for a bit to recover from the surgery. I had confidence that I could leave my team and trust things would operate smoothly in my absence. Despite all of that, I had this unwavering mindset that I would beat this and come out of it better than I ever was — and I did! Working at POWER with the support system it provides and my own desire to never stop working on myself allowed me to truly be the reason why I was able to beat that tumor.  

Building a strong team is… also what I’m most proud of. Nothing skipped a beat while I was gone — things were better than ever. Knowing I have a team as capable as they are and as talented as they are is what makes me the most happy. 

Advice I would give to my entry-level self would be… to never stop believing in yourself. Go with your gut and maintain a healthy, balanced mental health routine. It will make you feel at your best (even in such a high stress job!). 

Architecting Our Experience

people cheering in the crowd at a music festival
Power employees revel in the music, fun, and camaraderie of Quest – Power’s annual music festival and retreat in Mexico and biggest event of the year.

My favorite part of event planning is…seeing the reactions from employees and the impact these experiences have on their lives. 

people throwing plates - a traditional Greek celebratory ritual
Everything at POWER events has intention behind it — from the venues, to the signage, to the activities. At the Power Awards Gala, attendees partake in ceremonial plate-breaking and dancing to celebrate and let go of the past.

An event industry trend that’s in for 2024 is…  intention. From implementing down time into events so attendees can take in the sights and culture of the city they’re in, or incorporating fun rituals like plate breaking to signify celebration and a fresh start. Designing every event, every moment with thought behind it can create a more impactful, fulfilling, and memorable experience. 

My inspiration comes from… dance — in all forms. The beauty of a dance production has made me think or view other “experiences” through a whole new light. In addition to being present, everywhere I am. Conversations with strangers and loved ones, walking down the street, exploring and traveling. I truly believe there is inspiration everywhere you are in whatever you are doing! And lastly my team. They are filled with new ideas every day that have taken our events to new levels recently. 

musician performing on stage to a crowd of people
One of the biggest acts in music takes the Quest stage, putting on one of the most memorable performances in Quest history.

The most memorable event in my career was… Quest 2023. Quest is our annual music festival and retreat in Mexico to celebrate the hard work of our employees. It’s three days of music from world-renowned artists, immersive art installations, and wellness activities.

For the first time in 13 years, we were hit with a storm and forced to make one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make in my professional career — move the concert indoors after the stage and all installations were fully built on the beach in less than a day. 

We had to strategically and methodically come up with a fast, but thoughtful plan on how we would do this with the time, resources and equipment we had. Devising a communication plan to relay the changes to thousands of attendees was challenging, but we did it all while keeping spirits high and positive. I’m so proud that we were able to successfully make this happen in 16 hours and host one of our biggest and best festivals to date. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my People Experience team, and our partners at Sidetrack Agency and Nomads Collective

Beyond the Job

woman posing for a photo at a conference
Chelsea and the PX team plan over 250 events, meetings, and conferences annually including POWER’s Leadership Conference where leaders from across the business gather for learning + development, team building, and more.

My ideal day out of office looks like… Starting my day with some green juice and journaling! Then I would put on some feel good morning music, and check out my Pinterest fashion board for inspiration on my outfit for the day. In this ideal day off I would have magic powers to snap my fingers and take myself to NYC for a morning of shopping. From there, I would snap my fingers back home, pack a small cooler and go lay out by my pool while I read a book, listen to music and people watch. The end of my night would be hanging on my balcony with my family and friends watching the sun set! 

If I wasn’t planning events, I would be…very bored! Just kidding…! If I wasn’t planning events I would want to get involved in 3 different areas. I would get involved in Fashion in some way, open up a dance studio with my mom and refurbish and manage half way houses for young women struggling with addiction with my Mom and Dad.

I nerd out on… Dessert, all kinds. Chocolate, cake, ice cream, all of it. It’s honestly an issue! I love fashion and clothes so much that I turned my dining room into a second walk-in closet. 🫣 And Psychology and mental wellness.

The Instagram account I can’t get enough of is… @condenast and @90sanxiety

My dream Quest lineup includes…We have honestly had my top performers already, artist like: Macklemore, Bruno Mars, Kygo, Usher (and a few others I can’t name…) and it has been a dream come true! If I added onto our list it would include artist like: Miley Cyrus, Mumford and Sons, Zach Bryan, Dave Matthews and Bruce Springsteen! For me it’s not just about the songs, its about the PERFORMANCE!

My mornings start with…a 6:45am meditation. This has really helped me stay grounded each day working in such a face paced, beautifully chaotic industry.

One word to describe POWER’s culture is…ELECTRIC!

If you want to be a part of this vibrant, fun, and fulfilling community, check out POWER’s open positions here.

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