Women At The Helm: Huong Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Shiloh Events
In 2023, Huong Nguyen, CEO and founder of Shiloh Events, celebrated 10 years in business as a full-service agency that specializes in managing large-scale corporate events for global brands. Established in 2013, Shiloh Events will produce 25 events in 2023 for a variety of clients, including Fujitsu, Hitachi, Sanford, Redis and Culture Amp — to name a few. Today, the company has 12 employees with people based in the Bay Area, Philadelphia, Austin, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles and San Diego.
With an MBA in marketing and more than 15 years of experience in the events sector, Nguyen has consistently demonstrated her ability to create compelling experiences that boost brand recognition, engagement and customer loyalty. In her role as the head of a committed team of event experts, she manages every facet of event organization, implementation and assessment, consistently delivering top-notch outcomes and ensuring client contentment.
She also leverages her expertise in digital marketing and community relations to amplify the impact of events through social media, content creation and influencer outreach. Her passion for events stems from her belief that they are powerful tools for storytelling, connection and innovation.
“We’ve partnered with renowned clients such as Zoom, where we co-founded their annual flagship conference, Zoomtopia, as well as collaborating with LG for their exclusive VIP events, Samsung for their trade show ancillary events and many more esteemed corporate partners,” she said.
We caught up with Nguyen to find out how this woman at the helm got her start in the event industry, why she launched her own company, what’s working when it comes to producing memorable events in 2023 and what advice she would give her younger self.
What was your first job in the events industry?
My first job was with NASA, as a government employee, producing events for the outreaching and public relations department. One of the biggest events I’ve worked on at NASA was an outdoor space festival called Yuri’s Night for 20,000 people with high-profile performers including Common and Black Keys.
Will you share the story behind how and why you founded Shiloh Events?
After completing my MBA from Santa Clara University, I found myself in an existential crisis, trying to figure out ‘What is my true purpose in life?’ Despite the prestige of an MBA, I couldn’t secure the right job. It was during this period of closed doors that I decided to start something of my own, that’s more aligned with my passion.
The events industry has always ignited a deep passion within me. The ultimate dream is to have a positive impact by delivering peace to a stressful and chaotic industry. Visualizing, planning, executing and transforming lives through events is what I live for.
This vision led me to launch Shiloh Events a decade ago. ‘Shiloh’ was chosen deliberately because it means ‘peace’ in Hebrew. Our mission is to shoulder the burdens of planning for our clients, providing them with a sense of calm and focus.
What’s the best part of your job right now?
I absolutely love the early stages of event planning, especially when it comes to dreaming up the vision and laying out the program. There's something special about crafting programs from scratch. During these moments, I get to decide on budgets, pick the best spots and venues, brainstorm themes and messages and plan how we'll present the event to the world. What really gets me pumped is coming up with fresh ideas. It's all about creating memorable attendee experiences, which ultimately brings value to our clients.
And the toughest?
On the flip side, the trickiest part of my job at the events agency is dealing with data. Sometimes there's too much of it, and sometimes there's too little! Sorting through the data, organizing it and then making sense of it all to measure how well we did can be a real challenge. But it's essential to measure our success and the value we bring.
What’s been the most memorable event experience you’ve had or produced in 2023?
We produced a large Sales Kick-Off in Miami that had multiple program components, including strong stage presence, expo booths, expo theaters, surprise elements, awards dinner and offsite evening reception. My favorite element of the program was the visual appeal of the stage presence. The client chose a large LED wall for their stage, and it made all of the content pop. I highly recommend investing money in AV if ever there’s an opportunity.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of the most valuable insights I’ve learned is the importance of redefining success. Through the years, I've realized it's not about meeting someone else's idea of success, but rather curating my own definition of it. If I constantly compare my success to others, I'll never measure up and feel like ‘I’ll never get there.’ Instead, I take a moment to pause and reflect on what success means to me, even in small contexts like a specific project or time frame. This helps me to see and celebrate my progress. These little victories keep me driven, motivating me to keep going towards my goals.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To place more trust in my intuition, that gut feeling. I've always had a strong sense of intuition, feeling when things are right or when they're not. My intuition has never steered me wrong, but I made the mistake of not listening to it. Now, looking back, I see that my intuition was like a guardian angel, picking up on little hints and vibes that my thinking brain would sometimes miss.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I like to boulder (a form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls without the use of ropes or harnesses) and figure skate when I have free time. These two activities help me to release tension, unresolved energy and redirect focus after a hard day of work! I especially love bouldering because it’s one of those activities that gives a mental rush of good chemicals when you accomplish a climb you thought was impossible. It feeds into positive self-talk and motivation.”