The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Who could forget Humphrey Bogart’s famous last line in Casablanca? Bogart’s character Rick Blaine gave us so many memorable quotes within the 1942 romantic classic, but his final one resonates most with me in reference to both my personal and professional life. While planning events here at Georgia Tech, I am continually inspired by how the development of “beautiful friendships” can significantly impact the outcome of my events and the guests’ experiences.

For example, while at the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO) conference this past February, I was reminded that our events can not only provoke emotions and feelings, but also develop friendships and elicit action. As we plan Commencement, our ultimate goal is to create a meaningful and special day for our graduates and their families, but we can be doing so much more. The video that we create might influence the alumni in the audience to give back to their alma mater. The speech that our student reflection speaker gives may prompt a future faculty member to apply to the opening posted on our website. The little sister in the stands may decide, after watching more than 800 successful women receive their diplomas, that she, too, can become a Yellow Jacket. Commencement just became an event that not only successfully marked the completion of 2,300 students’ careers here at Tech; it also developed three new friendships.

What about the way we can develop “beautiful friendships” within our day-to-day work lives? A few weeks ago, I met with a colleague in the Scheller College of Business to determine how we can collaborate on future projects. We realized that many of our endeavors have the potential to complement one another; she has connections with professors and speakers who could present ECN Brown Bag sessions and I have opportunities for her to get involved with the organization. In addition, as we begin to plan our fall events, Serena, Stephanie, and I continue to reach out to others to see if we can share delivery costs on catering orders or collaborate to create floral centerpieces used at multiple events. By developing these friendships, we have increased the likelihood that our events will be successful and our guests will enjoy their experience.

At Georgia Tech, we have many experienced colleagues, esteemed faculty, and innovative research opportunities to celebrate at our fingertips, so we should always be searching for ways to develop our connections and partnerships. In honor of Friendship Day celebrated Sunday, August 2, I say to all Georgia Tech event planners, here’s to the beginning of beautiful friendships.