Event Technology Awards 2022 – Judge’s Spotlight: RJ Crowder-Schaefer

RJ leads the Event Technology and Product team at Bloomberg where he manages a global team of digital event technicians, QA specialists, product and project managers to oversee an event tech stack responsible for the execution of 3,000+ events annually. He previously worked at Meredith Corporation (now Dotdash Meredith) as a Senior Product Manager, responsible for digital back end & front end product enhancements across 30+ brands, including People, Entertainment Weekly, Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens and Allrecipes. Based in New York City, RJ began his career managing large scale, in-person corporate productions including product launches and New York Fashion Week.

How long have you worked in the events industry?

I’ve worked in the events industry for over 10 years across a range of different types of events – corporate product launches, NY Fashion Week, single day webinar/webcasts, multi-day virtual environments and hybrid events (before hybrid was cool).

What have been the stand-out moments of your career?

After the outbreak of COVID-19, I was invited to return to Bloomberg to create and manage an event technology team to support the shift of a global program of 3,000+ events/year  from 90% in-person to 100% virtual almost overnight. We found ourselves leveraging digital event platforms that were previously used for a fraction of the virtual volume, reassessing our standards for ‘best in class’ events in the digital space and demystifying this idea of ‘hybrid’ across the company. We were most definitely building the plane while flying it.

What do you love most about the Event Industry?

First and foremost, I appreciate the willingness across event industry professionals at all levels to collaborate, roll up their sleeves and solve whatever challenges arise during the planning and execution of an event. The industry is composed of agile, tactful professionals who rely on this level of collaboration to drive innovation and creativity as audience expectations evolve. I am also drawn to new technological developments and the events industry is directly impacted by new tech. It’s the ingenuity and partnership of event professionals that has led to the growth and evolution of the industry.

What was the last event on which you worked?

I recently returned from Panama where the Event Tech team was onsite to support Bloomberg New Economy’s inaugural Gateway Latin America event. With an emphasis on audience reach, this hybrid event was streamed to 13 different endpoints and 3 languages across our digital event platforms, broadcast TV, social and the Bloomberg Terminal. With this event and some of our other more complex hybrid events, we’re seeing the need for digital platforms that can offer expanded attendee engagement segmented to in-person, virtual or both audiences.

Who has inspired you in your career?

I have been inspired by the event managers on Bloomberg’s Global Event Team who pivoted from in-person to virtual events when that wasn’t what they initially signed up for. The team had to quickly learn the digital side of events–platforms, connectivity best practices, technical troubleshooting–and did so despite constant scope changes and stakeholder uncertainty.

What do events, such as the ETAs mean to you?

The ETAs and other awards are meaningful for a few different reasons. Firstly, recognition of individual or team achievements is instrumental in showcasing the complexity  of a successful event outside the business-specific event goals. Secondly, recognition across the industry helps to drive innovation, competition and sets the bar moving forward.

What would you like to see in this year’s entries?

I’m looking forward to seeing which event technologies have pushed the envelope on innovation, primarily with audience segmentation, engagement and front end user experiences.

What is the one piece of technology you can’t afford to live without?

I do not want to live in a world without Bluetooth.