From the CEO: When People are your Greatest Asset

It’s often cliché to say that "our employees are our greatest asset." Companies tout this in ways that lure people to apply for jobs at their company. Often, it is not authentic. My impression is that employees, prospective employees and customers see right through any phrase that is not supported by fact.

Our team at the San Diego Convention Center is well tenured. There are employees that have been here since we opened in 1989. Many have excelled at their craft and have been recognized. This includes our partner organizations – the San Diego Tourism Authority, Centerplate, Smart City and PSAV.

Recognition can come in many forms. It starts with living out our core values:

Living out these values means that we embrace our roles and focus on the needs of our customers. We succeed when we embrace these values and not just accept them. Embracing others is not as easy as it sounds. It means that we check our ego at the door. Embracing others also means that if the organization in the building has a really great event and is successful by their measurement then we should not even be noticed. That’s a sign of our success. Not being noticed means that we put our customer first and that the focus was on our clients, not us.

Values are also meant to be acknowledged and celebrated by leadership. Even though our team functions superbly and does not seek the limelight, it would be foolish for me as the CEO to not celebrate the talent we have. Our teams have routinely been acknowledged by customers. But there are associations and local organizations that recognize our team members’ contributions too.

Recently, our Executive Director of Advertising and Concierge Services, Bess Eberhardt was named a finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 Woman of the Year Awards. All finalists were featured in San Diego Magazine’s September 2016 issue. San Diego Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award is given to one woman each year who has worked tirelessly to affect positive change and enhance the community. She is an unabashed leader, champion of helping others, and widely respected by her peers for her measurable success in business and outstanding character.

Mark Emch is our Sr. VP/CFO. Mark is a 22 year veteran of the SDCCC. Mark has been recognized by his peers and asked to serve on the key research initiative for the International Association of Venue Managers. He has lent his skill to the industry on task forces and committees. However, one of his crowning achievements was being selected as an instructor for the International Association of Convention Centers (AIPC) at their AIPC Academy in Brussels. The AIPC Academy is a comprehensive professional development program specifically serving the needs of international convention center managers.

We had two of our Directors over have been recognized for their achievement in the Convention industry internationally.

DeeAnne Snyder, our Director of Event Management, has been nominated for the PCMA Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a very prestigious award. It not only recognize someone who has many years in the business, but it recognizes individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving others. It requires a lifetime of contribution to our industry. Many provide great service, but few rise to a level that DeeAnne has. She has been with the SDCCC for over 23 years and is a valued member of our Executive Team. She also received the PCMA Convention Manager of the Year in 2002. She does an extraordinary job for our customers.

The next recognition goes to Josh Layne. Josh is our Director of Security. He has been selected to serve on the International Association of Venue Managers Industry Security Council. The goal for this initiative is to establish recognized guidelines and smart practices through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Safety Act Office. Josh’s background and knowledge will greatly benefit their efforts for making this initiative a reality with the obvious outcome of providing enhanced security for venue employees and attendees. This initiative has been co-created by IAVM, Exhibition Services Contractor Association and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Josh is the sole sitting Convention Center Security professional selected out of 14 North American members of this Council.

Karen Totaro is another person who is recognized internationally. Karen has recently joined our team as the Executive VP/General Manager of SDCCC. She joins us from Atlantic City and has a long, healthy relationship with many of our customers. She is the immediate past Chair of the IAVM Board of Directors and is held in high regard across the country. She has recently been named a woman of influence by a publication and in the top 12 most influential leaders in the Convention Industry by the Facilities and Destination publication.

Our Communications Department, responsible for the website you are reading, also recently won two awards of merit. The Public Relations Society of America's San Diego Chapter and the San Diego Press Club honored this very blog you are reading with an Award of Excellence and First Place plaque, respectively. Our staff's goal is to bring you the story of the San Diego Convention Center, its customers and its benefit for the region.

Our newest member of our team is Mohsen Kholeghi. Mohsen joined us on November 7, 2016 as our Senior Vice President/Chief Business Development Officer. Mohsen worked for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts for over 30 years including General Manager positions at both the La Jolla and Mission Bay properties. He also was the Hotel Manager at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. He is actively engaged in service to San Diego. He is the past chair and president of the San Diego County Hotel & Motel Association. He was one of the charter board members of the San Diego Marketing District and he served as an executive committee member/treasurer and board member of the San Diego Tourism Authority. In 2005, he was recognized as the San Diego Hotel Person of the Year and in 2010, he was nominated as the General Manager of the Year for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

These individuals are a sample of the team members who live out our values each and every day. Their individual accomplishments could not, and are not, possible without the amazing core team of employees here at the SDCCC.

We often get letters thanking our team for jobs well done. Here’s a sample of one of those letters:

In addition to this direct service to our customers, our team members participate with and volunteer for over a dozen local not-for-profit organizations and charities. The United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the LGBT Center are just a few of these.

Our employees are our greatest asset. We stand proud with team members who live out our core values. Every member of our team is authentic in their willingness to live out our promise of providing excellent service to our customers and to our community.

I’m proud to be a part of this team. On behalf of our Board, team members and partners – we commit to providing our very best so that our community can continue to thrive. We are the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.

Barbara Moreno's picture
Posted by Barbara Moreno, on November 7, 2016
Meeting Planners, News and Developments


I am very proud to have been a part of the outstanding SDCCC Team for 18+ years!

Keep up the success!


I am thankful that I get the pleasure of working with such an outstanding team!

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