It’s little surprise Victoria Neeson, CEO of Dreamtek, and Erica Boeke, CEO of Liberty & Co., bonded through Chief, an organization for women executives. Perhaps the only shocker is it took the two accomplished leaders so long to connect.
One year after that first meeting and having executed a virtual graduation together, the two have formalized a partnership between their cutting-edge companies, bringing the best of Dreamtek’s broadcast technology and production expertise with Liberty & Co.’s experiential planning prowess to an impressive list of clients. Now they are a fully fledged creative agency.
Already, the dream team orchestrated a collaboration between Google and YouTube, and Dreamtek’s presence is further bolstering Liberty & Co.’s award-winning work on a virtual event series for the Project Management Institute.
They say that the timing, at a moment when corporate groups and brands are reconsidering their entire strategies, could not be better for the melding of the organizations. Even before COVID-19, “I could see businesses were going to need to change the way they operate,” Boeke said.
An expert in marketing and storytelling, Boeke had the self-awareness to realize that for all of Liberty’s array of capabilities, the company needed help to produce virtual and hybrid experiences worthy of her clients. Liberty’s reputation speaks for itself. It experienced 200% growth in 2020, and is a trusted resource for B2B and B2C clients looking to shift from traditional, sometimes, stodgy events. Aside from executing award-winning experiences, the consulting arm (representing 20% of their business in 2020) allows the team to shape clients’ individual events and their overarching experiential strategies.
Neeson, who joined Dreamtek as a director in 2010 after managing events and communications for a large bank for 11 years, has the experience to complement Boeke’s abilities. “We were already playing in a virtual world — we had been supporting our clients with innovative virtual events for years — we knew the technology and the impact of it,” she noted.
The pair of executives are quick to admit they are “seasoned.” A big advantage of years of experience are the connections and clients that come with that.
Boeke’s resume includes impressive work with media giants Conde Nast, Fast Company, Wired, GQ and others. Events she has brought innovation to include the Oscars (not this year’s fiasco), South by Southwest and Comic-Con.
She’s seen firsthand how the household names were transitioning from supplementing events to orchestrating experiences themselves. “They want flawless execution,” she said. “That’s what they expect from us.”
Indeed, trust may be the most valuable commodity in the events industry as groups innovate and adapt to a new way of interacting with clients and customers. Yes, IRL (in real life) has been added back to event professionals’ alphabet soup, but the digital components that carried marketing and gatherings during the pandemic are not going away despite vaccinations and eased restrictions.
“I don’t think for one minute the live events industry is dead,” Neeson said. “It will come back. But I just think we’ll see a different dynamic with the digital side of it.”
Neeson added that for companies to maximize the potential of the digital realm, they will need to be smarter about matching their end goal with the right technology.
The trick, said Boeke, is strategizing can’t-miss memories for the audiences “It is something that is going to have to be worth the hassle of getting on a plane,” she said. “You’re going to have to create what we call FOMO-inducing moments.”
The accomplishments of Neeson and Boeke are impressive regardless of the circumstances, but are magnified due to their status as rare female CEOs in the tech and events world. Even more unusual is to have two such achievers partnering in the same space.
“That is a big deal as far as I’m concerned, because my personal journey has been incredibly tough,” Neeson said. “I’ve learned a lot. And it’s been very challenging. So for me to be where I am today, I personally feel is a big deal.”
Their similarities are greater than gender, Boeke added.
“I certainly didn’t seek out a partnership with Victoria because she is a woman,” said Boeke. “We’re just very simpatico. We had some shared experiences, and we both took that leap to carve out the world that we wanted — it just was a natural kind of gravitation point.”
They also share a similar ethos distilled to their teams. Both sides are completely on board working together regardless of whether the client originally came from Dreamtek or from Liberty & Co.
“I love how Victoria celebrates our wins, and how we celebrate her wins,” Boeke said.