Doreen Guerin grew up an Air Force brat, living in Texas, Louisiana, and later England and France. When she was 13, her parents moved to Queens and, Guerin says, “I’m a New Yorker through and through.” That’s apparent from her accent as well as her dedication to the Javits Center, where, as the senior vice president of sales and marketing, she oversees the booking and event-related operations for more than 170 events each year.
M+E: What fueled your interest in working in the conventions industry?
I worked for a trade show association in the textile industry part-time while I was in college. I began working on a show called the Knitting Yarn Fair, and I got the bug. It bit me, and I stayed with it. I went on to do shows in printing and packaging, ended up at the Toy Fair for a few years, then to shows in jewelry and art. In 2006, I landed at the Javits Center. It’s a hard industry not to love.
M+E: Why do you say it’s a hard industry not to love?
Because you’re always building something, there’s all the exciting energy of a grand opening, and everybody on the team feels like they’re part of something successful. Also, you know you’re having a positive impact—on the event organizer, [on] an industry, [on] your community. At Javits, we’re very proud of what we contribute to the city through the events we host and what that means for hotel rooms, restaurants, and more.
M+E: You deal with extremely complicated logistics. Can you share a challenging experience?
When Hurricane Irene struck in August 2011, we were hosting a jewelry trade show along with the World Police & Fire Games. We received the order from the governor’s office that we had to evacuate. It was our first time doing that, and it meant a lot of hard conversations with event managers, telling them, ‘You need to close your doors now before the subway system and the roads shut down.’ We got it done, and 24 hours later, thousands of police and firefighters were back, continuing their games. That turned out to be very good practice for Superstorm Sandy the next year.