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Lone Star to L'étoile: Navigating the European Event Industry

Chamonix, France

Who am I?

After decades of event marketing leadership roles in technology and producing corporate meetings and events around the world from my home base in San Francisco, I've decided to temporarily relocate to Chamonix, France, just outside of Geneva, for three months. 

Laurie Sharp
Laurie Sharp

During the peak of COVID-19, I was a digital nomad and fortunate to travel with my partner and work from rental homes and hotels in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Mexico and France. With a fully remote and mobile lifestyle, I learned to balance Zoom calls, emails and client deliverables with hiking, snowshoeing, photography and walks on the beach. At the time, I was executive producing virtual events and only returned home to live-tape keynotes with executives.

Now that in-person meetings and events have resumed, attempting to work remotely on a grander scale while growing my European network feels like the right next step.  

After all, my daughter is a 20-year-old junior in college and my partner is retired, so we are untethered. This is an opportunity to experience new challenges and make myself a little uncomfortable. 

I’ve always been a risk-taker. Twice in my career, I’ve moved across the country without a job, and through networking and hustling, those transitions resulted in career advancement, new expertise and incredible friendships.

However, taking a risk on an international scale—at this stage of my career—comes with greater uncertainty and requires major vulnerability, a truckload of humility and the ability to set aside one’s ego to rebuild a career brand and reputation as an event leader almost 6,000 miles from home.

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What am I doing?

Laurie Sharp's remote office at a Chamonix, France cafe
Laurie Sharp's remote office at a Chamonix, France cafe

For the next three months, I'll be working remotely supporting my U.S. clients while diving into the world of European corporate meetings and events.  

To pave my way, I contacted more than 150 contacts through emails and LinkedIn messages. A LinkedIn post where I requested introductions and assistance from my network garnered over 10,000 impressions and 175 likes. It also led to over 25 new introductions to CMOs, event marketers, hoteliers, DMCs and regional influencers. I love this industry and I’m so grateful to be a part of a community that prioritizes mutual support and fosters connections.

Why am I doing this, you ask? I am taking a step toward a career shift that aligns with one of my lifelong goals: living in Europe. Let’s call it a "test run" for a significant lifestyle modification.

[Related: Dear Ashley: 7 Ways to Immerse Attendees in Local Culture Pre-Arrival]

Why do you care?

Laurie in Paris
Laurie Sharp in Paris, France

I look forward to sharing my journey as I dive into this European escapade. I'll share my successes and challenges in making such a big move personally and professionally and real insights into what it’s like working remotely internationally. I’m an eight-hours-of-sleep girl, so this could disintegrate fast! 

I’ll decode the cultural nuances in meeting and event design and execution in Europe versus the United States. I’ll introduce you to the industry leaders and characters I meet along the way and highlight the hotels, venues and restaurants that I visit.

My hope is to also shed light on what many of us dream about: working remotely, living abroad, what worked, what didn’t and my key learnings along the way.

Let's see if this girl from Texas, dipped in 20 years of Silicon Valley and armed with a camera and a notepad, can carve a new path and measure up in the capital cities of Europe.

Merci beaucoup mes amis, Laurie

P.S. In case you are wondering, I took 11 12 pairs of shoes.

Connect with Laurie

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About the author
Laurie Sharp

Laurie Sharp is a corporate event marketing executive with over 20 years of experience. She has led global event teams for notable tech brands including VMware, Dolby and New Relic. Sharp is a global strategic event architect designing best-in-class brand experiences that build community and drive pipeline. She currently serves on the Board of the Society for Sustainable Events and, in 2023, was recognized by BizBash in their "15 over 50" feature.