In this week's My Job Story, we feature Timm Quinn, Special Events Director and Leadership Stockton Program Director for the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce in Stockton, California. The mission of the 115 year-old Chamber is to aggressively develop and promote an economically vibrant business community. The Chamber works to help businesses lower the cost of doing business improve the local economy through programs like the Business Education Alliance (BEA), Stockton Chamber Apprenticeship Programs (SCAP), Green Team San Joaquin, FRESH and many others. Leadership Stockton, a program of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, is California's oldest adult community learning program and works to identify and educate future leaders in the Central Valley by promoting civic involvement.
High Demand, Low Supply: How do you describe your job to people not associated with the Chamber?
Timm Quinn: I tell people I plan parties and run the Leadership Stockton Program. I do everything needed to have a successful event. The promotion of it, invitations, press releases, handle the reservations, payments, do the agenda for the events, get sponsorships, anything you can think of. Leadership Stockton requires planning the session dates, getting speakers, locations, arranging the breakfast and lunch and keeping 20-25 strong minded people on track and moving in the right direction.
HDLS: How long have you been doing this current job?
Timm: I started at the Stockton Chamber of Commerce in August 2005 as the Stockton Ag (Agriculture) Expo Exhibitor Salesman, selling the exhibit space at the Stockton Ag Expo. I was also an events assistant when not working on the Ag Expo. The Stockton Ag Expo ran every January and the last one was held in January 2008. In June of 2008 I became the Special Events Coordinator and Leadership Stockton Program Coordinator. In July of 2014 I was promoted to Special Events Director and changed my job title from Leadership Stockton Program Coordinator to Leadership Stockton Program Director. Over the years, other things have come across my desk and stayed there. I am in charge of keeping the Chamber website updated, I am the editor for the Port O Call (The Stockton Chamber monthly magazine) and I run the Stockton Chamber social media sites. As Events Director, I am in charge of planning and running 9 big events a year: State of the City, Golf Tournament, Business Awards Luncheon, ATHENA Awards Luncheon, Industrial Technology Barbecue, Ag Hall of Fame Dinner, Installation Dinner and 2 annual trade shows. On top of that I am in charge of scheduling and helping plan a networking mixer every month. For Leadership Stockton I am in charge of scheduling all the session day speakers and locations and for organizing the Graduation Dinner.
HDLS: How did you get this current job?
Timm: I applied for Special Events Coordinator position at the Stockton Chamber through an online job posting. I came in and interviewed and ended up being hired as the Ag Expo Exhibitor Salesman because of my sales background.
HDLS: What is a typical day like for you?
Timm: If there are no events going on, I come into the office, get caught up on e-mails and phone calls, then get to planning the next two events coming up and the next two Leadership Stockton sessions. I post some things on social media and make sure the website is up to date. Depending on what time of month I am either working on the content for the Port O Call magazine or in the proofing process to get it to print.
If it is event day or close to the event it is all about getting the details complete to have a smooth event. Making sure all of the speakers have the agenda, the food is ordered, the room is set up correct, the programs are done, name tags are done, sponsor signage is complete, etc.
A typical Leadership Stockton day starts with picking up coffee and breakfast for the class. Getting to the session location and setting up the breakfast, coffee and snacks for the day along with the setting out the nameplates for the class and agendas and handouts for the day. Then making sure the speakers stay on the agenda schedule and the class stays focused throughout the day.
HDLS: What are the best parts of your job?
Timm: There is always something new. I get to move from event to event, no two days are ever the same. I get to meet a lot of new people at the mixers and events. And at the events there is usually a lot of delicious food! Through the Leadership Stockton program I get to meet 20-25 new people every year that want to make a difference in our community and I get to be part of an awesome community service project each year. Through Leadership Stockton, I like to say I put people where they need to be. The Leadership Stockton class exposes the class members to all different areas of the community and upon graduation many people join a non-profit board that fits their passion or some even go on to work at that non-profit.
HDLS: What was your first job?
Timm: I was a lifeguard at Brookside Pool and a swim coach at The Beach Club during High School.
HDLS: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Timm: When I was a child I probably wanted to be a professional baseball player. After High School I took a class about job interviewing skills and during that class we took a career aptitude test and one of the things it said on the results under possible career fields was Chamber of Commerce. I had no clue at the time what a Chamber did and that I would end up working for one.
HDLS: What is your career story? How did you get where you are now?
Timm: After graduating from college I decided I had had enough of the winters in Massachusetts and it was time to move back to California. Some friends from High School were finishing up their degrees at UC San Diego and I went down to visit and ended up moving in with them. In San Diego I had a few jobs. I started out as an outside salesman, going door to door, business to business, selling office products. That didn’t last too long and I started a job as a recruiter for entry level sales positions. Although the job was in San Diego, my office was in Carlsbad, my territory was in Texas, mainly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I did that for about a year with some success but all my friends were graduating and moving away from San Diego. I stayed for a while but was not happy in my job and a lot of my friends had left so I decided to move back home to Stockton in early 2005. I looked for a job, found a posting on one of the online job sites and applied for the Special Events Coordinator position at the Stockton Chamber and ended up being hired as the Stockton Ag Expo Exhibitor Salesman because of my sales background. The final Ag Expo was held in January 2008, the attendance and exhibitors had been declining for some time and the collapse of the economy was the final nail in the coffin. After the Ag Expo was over I moved into the Special Events Coordinator role that had been vacant for a while and finished my year in the Leadership Stockton Program in June. Wes Rhea was the Leadership Stockton Program Director when I went through the class but with his promotion to CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureau he did not have the time to keep running the program so I took over that role as well in June of 2008. I did both positions and was promoted to Special Events Director in July of 2014. If something around the Chamber office needed to get done I never shied away from taking on that task. It’s amazing what you can learn from a Google search, a YouTube video and through trial and error.
HDLS: Can you tell me about an interesting day you’ve had in this job?
Timm: Event days can be very interesting or stressful. If you don’t put the work in and plan every last detail before the event, the event is not going to be successful because when it comes to events Murphy’s Law definitely applies. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong at some point. It could be a microphone not working, video or projector failure, computer issues, volunteers not showing up, speakers being sick or stuck in traffic, a huge rain storm the day of your event(outside or inside), you have to stay calm and just roll with the punches and figure out a solution. Stressing or freaking out about it just makes it worse and doesn’t help anyone.
HDLS: What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Timm: My mom and dad always taught me to work hard. They also taught me that if you say you are going to do something, do it. You are only as good as your word. And that sometimes all the money in the world isn’t worth it if you are not happy. Do something you love to do that makes you happy.
HDLS: What is the worst career advice you have ever received?
Timm: People telling you that you can’t do something because it has never been done.
HDLS: What career advice would you give your younger self?
Timm: Just keep on working hard. Do anything you can, the more experience you have at everything will help you in the long run.
Timm's drive to take on new tasks and responsibilities has gained him many successes and new roles in his more than 10 years at the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce. Thank you Timm for sharing your job story!
Timm holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a fourth generation Stocktonian. He and his wife, Amanda, have a young son and live in Stockton.