• Meet Hillary Harris, After Her Career Pivot

     
    FROM THE Summer 2017 ISSUE
     

    Hillary Harris left a top spot at Warner Bros. Studios for life as an independent event producer.

After working at Warner Bros. Studios for 22 years, Hillary Harris left her position as executive director of special events. She had, in fact, developed the special events department in 1993 after working as an independent event producer for the studio and running her own catering and event production companies out of Newport Beach. Now, Harris has come full circle; she’s on her own again, with Warner Bros. as her biggest client. 

CAM+E: Why did you leave Warner Bros.?
HH:
Warner Bros. Studios was a great training ground for me, a place to learn not only about production, but corporate business and how to work within a team environment and to develop global thinking. I really grew as an event professional by being on that campus. But by 2015 we were doing between 250 to 275 events a year, and that meant late nights, weekends and holidays. I realized that I was living to work rather than working to live. In life, timing is everything and it was time for me to leave. My departure allowed me to take a chance on myself, not by leaving anything behind, but making a pivot in my career.

CAM+E: What were those first months after you left the studio like?
HH:
I gave myself two years where I really made me a priority. I wanted to discover the mind-body-spirit connection so that I could be my best self. And I wanted to have fun.

I changed my eating habits. I started to exercise. I’ve lost 50 pounds and I feel stronger than I ever have in my life. One thing that’s really worked for me is doing daily devotionals of gratitude and thankfulness. Through that I’ve gained peace, which has left me with on overriding sense of joy, through good days and bad.

CAM+E: What are some recent projects you’ve taken on?
HH:
Since I’ve been independent, I worked on the press junket for “Batman v Superman,” I did red carpet production for the MTV Movie Awards, I produced The Environmental Media Awards for EMA, a nonprofit organization, and I designed the Warner Bros. Holiday Party, which I’m doing again this year for 5,000 guests. I’ve also planned milestone birthday parties and I have a wedding coming up.

CAM+E: What’s next for you?
HH:
At the end of September, I’m going to re-evaluate everything and decide whether I want to grow my business or if I’d be happier taking on the same level of projects that I do now. In any case, I’ll continue to be grounded by a purposeful, mindful routine and I’ll always make sure to have fun. 

With a beachside locale and a laidback, surf-town vibe, Ventura County Coast is awash with inspiration for your next meeting and event. The region is home to four communities— Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, and Port Hueneme—and is ideal for groups from 10 to 1,000.  

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

Opening a hotel is no easy feat at any time. Opening two hotels during a global pandemic is exponentially more difficult. That’s the job that fell to Michael Stephens, area managing director for The Seabird Resort, which has 226 rooms and 20,000 square feet of ocean-view meeting and event space, and Mission Pacific Hotel, with 161 rooms and 13,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Pacific Garden—a lush green lawn that’s just steps from the beach and can accommodate more than 300 guests.