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MPI Member Spotlight: Arlene Schilke

Arlene Schilke

I worked in the restaurant industry during university and then transitioned into sales and marketing for a publishing company. It was serendipitous that I fell into a role with a professional congress organizer where I was able to utilize my acquired skill set in a way I never imagined. And thus, another “accidental planner” was born.

In August 2017 our company was awarded an International Esprit Award for Best Industry Contribution for an initiative that my partner and I spearheaded. This project (Edmonton Event Awards) quickly gained momentum and brought the events community together in our city. To be recognized by the industry for this contribution was extremely impactful and meaningful. What really matters to us is to be able to take our passion and use it to contribute to the industry that we love.

Throughout my first year of MPI membership, I saw the leadership development and training that my partner (who was on the MPI Greater Edmonton Chapter board) was experiencing. The second year I got involved. I began to realize how vast the event industry actually was. Now that I’m on the board, I see the importance of directly asking people to get involved. They feel valued when they’re asked, and they rarely decline. We have tripled volunteer engagement by simply asking. And as president of the chapter, I feel strongly about growing our chapter and widening our circle so that we have a greater impact on the events community.

I would not be where I am today if I was not involved with MPI. It has opened doors and pushed me to step outside my comfort zone. I have grown on a personal and professional level and I have made friends all over the world. That is MPI. That is my MPI.

We need to be united with a cohesive voice—that’s why I’m so passionate about Meetings Mean Business. We need to stand together to advocate on behalf of the meeting industry. Nothing can replace the outcome of a face-to-face meeting, and I’m acutely aware of the economic impact that meetings have on our country—thousands of jobs, billions in revenue and supporting communities.

I often struggle with the guilt that can surface with the title of working mom/wife. I’ve been married for 17 years and have four active children. We have three companies under our umbrella and we deliver over 75 events a year. I’m productive and organized, but there’s a lot going on. I’m not the only mom who finds out at 9 p.m. that they’re supposed to bring four dozen home-baked cupcakes to school the next day (that’s usually the same day we have a big event!). Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In was instrumental in helping me come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be perfect and that’s OK. I used to try to separate work from family but it’s simply not realistic for an entrepreneur, let alone an event planner. The term work-life flow or work-life blend is more accurate than work-life balance.

My husband, Brent Taylor, is also in the industry and we’re kindred spirits. My kids (ages 8, 10, 12, 14) inspire me every day to do better and to be better. I love to share my stories, experiences and challenges with them and engage them in the conversation. It’s illuminating to see their perspective as they ask poignant questions and make observations. They definitely keep me grounded and real.

As much as I love this industry, it’s not always hearts and roses. My mother’s motto is “kill them with kindness.” At this point I usually roll my eyes, but she’s right and yes, it works.


Arlene Schilke, CMP, is managing partner of Timewise Event Management Inc. and president of the MPI Greater Edmonton Chapter. She has been an MPI member since 2008.

About the Author

Jeff Loy
Jeff Loy

Digital Editor at MPI