Bringing Professional Development Opportunities to Convention Centers

Returning to Austin from a professional development conference, Roman Polvinale, General Manager for Levy at Austin Convention Center, walked off the plane inspired from not only a great week of professional development, but he had just finished a great read.

Roman was looking forward to the conference because his favorite author, Simon Sinek, was a keynote speaker. He was interested in hearing Sinek speak after reading his books, and he was excited to pick up Sinek’s latest release, The Infinite Game, at the conference. Roman dove into the book on the plane ride home, and had finished it by the time he touched down in Austin.

Returning to work, Roman shared The Infinite Game with his teammate Ross Wagley, Assistant General Manager for Levy at Austin Convention Center. The two often discussed professional development and books, and this interaction sparked an idea for Roman.

“This is something I’m personally passionate about, and as I actively brought up more books in conversation, I realized many of my teammates share excitement around some of my favorite books and authors,” Roman said.

Ross has a similar passion for professional development books and had recently challenged his sales teams to find a book that interested them. Ross essentially started a book club environment where he and the team could share out key learnings and team building ideas.

Seeing the parallels between these two experiences, Roman and Ross recognized they should use this as an opportunity to create a professional and personal development program for the larger Levy team at Austin Convention Center.

Roman and Ross pulled together their favorite books and bought a few other well-known personal and professional development books, and built the Leadership Library. All Levy team members at Austin Convention Center now have the opportunity to check out a book from the Leadership Library to read and continue to share the passion for professional development that Roman and Ross have sparked at the convention center.

In the meetings and conventions industry, team members who work in hourly positions often don’t have robust professional benefits available to them, such as continued learning opportunities and professional development courses that are typically available to salaried team members. Roman and Ross wanted to work to close the professional development gap, inviting all team members to participate in the Leadership Library.

Roman and Ross currently have a library of 20 books and participation from Austin Convention Center team members continues to grow. With a variety of options available, team members can find books on topics that interest them, and they can request new titles be added to the library as well.

“It’s not only a great opportunity for our teams to learn and grow, but it’s a great team building activity,” Roman said. “The Leadership Library has brought up a lot of organic conversations, it’s easy to chat with other team members about what they’re reading and it’s fun to compare learnings and interesting aspects of the books.”

If team members are interested in taking their learning experience a step further, they can set a meeting with their manager to discuss the book they’re reading and share written takeaways. Those team members who are sharing their written learnings are able to receive a $25 gift card as a thank you for participating in the program, and they’re inspiring additional team members to check out books from the Leadership Library as well.

Going forward, Roman hopes the program continues to bring all of the Levy team members at Austin Convention Center closer, and grow the number of professional development opportunities for all roles. Roman and Ross are aiming to build the library to over 60 books and increase the amount of team members that can participate at one time. Roman and Ross continue to add new books every week, with great book requests coming in from curious team members.