Changing the future one meeting at a time

  • Vice President of Sales, Caesars Entertainment Inc.
  • 2023 Smart Women in Meetings Industry Leader

Leadership is now critical as the hospitality industry rebuilds a base of future leaders. Smart Meetings sat down with 2023 Smart Women in Meetings Industry Leader Award winner Kelly Gleeson Smith, who was promoted to the role of vice president of sales at Caesars Entertainment last October, to discuss the importance of community in her life and her approach to mentorship.

Q: Congratulations on being a Smart Women in Awards winner! What are you most excited about as a member of the Smart Woman community?

A: For years, being part of this distinguished list of women was a dream. I am inspired by the past and present women recognized by Smart Meetings because everyone is a trailblazer in their own way. We are better together and supporting other women is the backbone of my success and platform that I believe in. I see that in each of my fellow recipients and I’m honored to be part of it.

Q: What are you hoping to see at Smart Woman Summit in New York City?  

A: I’m really looking forward to connecting with the recipients face to face. I envision an energy that’s contagious when the room is filled with all the honorees.

Q: What are some of the ways communities like Smart Woman VIP Club can support members? 

A: I truly believe that supporting each other’s success is critical for the continued advancement of women in the workplace. The Smart Woman community can continue to be a resource to each other.  For those that are in new positions, like me, it is incredibly comforting to know that I have a network of people that I can bounce ideas off of and learn from.

Read More: Q&A With Smart Woman VIP Club Member Rhanee Palma

Q: You mentioned in your response to our Smart Women in Awards prompt that meetings can help find cures for diseases, they educate people and help people to improve the planet, technology and even themselves. Can you elaborate on that further?

A: Generally speaking, a medical convention could be unveiling a new device that could aid doctors in surgery and make procedures more precise. Look at how incisions have gone from large and invasive to small pin holes. People learned about that at a meeting! A technology company, at one point, showcased a new product that could bring the internet to your hands by way of a phone…today that’s normal, but when it was first presented it was new. That happened at a meeting, too. That’s what I mean when I say we’re changing the future—because we bring people together for this to happen.

Q: You mentioned your next goal was to write a letter of gratitude to the people who have helped you in your life. Why did you feel that was important to do?

A: When I reflect on my career, I’d like to think I’ve helped others along the way. Maybe that’s because I’ve been fortunate enough to have others support me! What I don’t think people realize is the impact that they’ve had on others. I want others to know that I don’t take their direction, advice or counsel for granted and I want them to know I’m doing all I can to “pass it on.”

“I don’t take their direction, advice or counsel for granted and I want them to know I’m doing all I can to ‘pass it on.'”

Q: What are you most grateful for in your career?

A: I’m really grateful for the opportunity to travel and learn about other cultures and pass that on to my children. Accepting others for their differences is a learning opportunity. This industry has shown me that over the years. You won’t always agree, and that’s ok.

Q: How important is paying it forward and mentoring others?

A: I believe paying it forward is going to keep shining a light on the hospitality industry. Mentoring others is just as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee. As we continue to recruit new energy into our industry, it’s our responsibility to actively participate in any opportunity to show how impactful it is!

This article appears in the May/June 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.