Top Ten U.S. Convention Centers
10. San Diego Convention Center
San Diego’s convention center is conveniently located near the City’s vibrant Gaslamp District and its sunny shore. Its design sets it apart from the standard conference arena—the 90,000-square-foot Sails Pavilion is marked by distinctive fiberglass “sails” that pay homage to the City’s maritime history. The annual Comic Con International convention has called San Diego home since 1991 and recently announced that it will continue the partnership through 2015.
9. Anaheim Convention Center
Recent renovations have made the Anaheim Convention Center one of the country’s most state-of-the-art facilities. In the past, it has been the site of the Winter NAMM Show, the Anime Expo, BlizzCon and the Medical Design and Manufacturing Show, but it’s also home to the Anaheim Bolts Soccer League. Last year, Microsoft held its Build Windows conference here and detailed Windows 8.
8. Moscone Center, San Francisco
Spanning three main halls, including a three-level exhibition hall and two underground halls beneath Yerba Buena Gardens, Moscone Center is San Francisco’s largest convention space and the host of Oracle OpenWorld, Macworld and the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. Ironically, the center is named for slain San Francisco former mayor George Moscone, who actually opposed development of the area in which it was built.
7. Phoenix Convention Center
Downtown Phoenix’s convention center is a true multi-functional space. It hosts everything from national and regional conventions to consumer events and theatrical productions and has attracted increasing amounts of tourism and financial support to the City since it opened in 1972. A recent expansion tripled the center’s size and further enhanced its regional aesthetics.
6. Georgia World Congress Center
Each year, more than a million people visit the GWCC and are able to make the most of its comforting on site amenities, as it offers a FedEx Kinko’s office, Starbucks cafes, a gift shop, Wi-Fi, full IT management, a concierge desk, a food court and a full restaurant. The GWCC also hosted several events during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
5. Dallas Convention Center
The Dallas Convention Center has a solid place in music history. In 1976 it was the site of one of Elvis Presley’s most legendary live shows and in 1978, Queen performed here and later filmed the music video for “Fat Bottomed Girls” on site. But it’s also known for being the home to the country’s largest column-free exhibit hall and the world’s largest heliport/vertiport.
4. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC
It’s no surprise that the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, named after the City’s first home rule mayor, has held a variety of inaugural balls and government summits. But it has also hosted the world’s largest sit down dinner and received several distinctions for its sophisticated, earth-friendly design.
3. Las Vegas Convention Center
The LVCC is one of the world’s largest convention centers and has hosted some of the world’s most massive stars, including the Beatles, Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson as well as some of the world’s most attended trade shows, including COMDEX and the International Consumer Electronics Show. An upcoming $890 million expansion will further cement the LVCC among the country’s best places to convene.
2. McCormick Place, Chicago
Chicago’s McCormick place has the distinction of being the largest convention center in the US. Its four interconnected buildings located on and near the shores of Lake Michigan are all noteworthy, but special accolades must be given to the West Building, which has 250,000 square feet of meeting space, including 61 meeting rooms and a 100,000-square-foot, football field-sized ballroom.
1. Orange County Convention Center, Orlando
Central Florida’s OCCC is a massive center, offering 2,100,000 square feet of exhibit space in its 7,000,000 square-foot complex. But it’s not just size that brought OCCC to the top of our list. The OCCC provides Central Florida with a remarkable amount of economic benefits at no cost to the county’s citizens and it is estimated that activity in the center yields an annual tax savings of $87.50 per Orange County household. This self-proclaimed “Center of Hospitality” offers amenities to please (including massage services, three full-service restaurants, eight food courts and remote airline check-in) and was the staging area for relief operations for Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.