Mark Mettes, CFE, is president and CEO of Phoenix, Arizona’s Herberger Theater Center and IAVM’s 2016-2017 board chair.
Mark, as the incoming chair of the IAVM Board of Directors, you have already exhibited excellent leadership skills. What are your thoughts on leadership in general? Is one born to be a leader or is that aptitude capable of being developed?
A lot of leadership is about balance—the balance between encouraging others and pushing those around you to be the best they can be, between a vision of the future and being mindful of the present, between stepping out as a strong leader and ensuring the spotlight finds others, between listening and speaking. While I think there are people who are born to be leaders, I also believe that leadership skills and abilities can be cultivated by a person who earnestly seeks the knowledge and the opportunities to develop those abilities. In the latter case, an encouraging mentor can make all the difference.
In what facilities have you worked in this industry, and what attracted you to this industry in the first place?
I have been blessed to have worked the majority of my career in one facility, the Herberger Theater Center. However, my role has changed dramatically over the years. I started in 1990 as a theatrical electrician working backstage and begin working full time as a technical supervisor in 1992. From there, I was promoted to technical director, then vice president of operations, then vice president, then CEO and now president and CEO. Each step helped me gain valuable knowledge and experiences as well as learning important perspectives, which inform my decision making on a daily basis.
What is the one thing that most people would find surprising to learn about you?
I enjoy editing together videos, mostly music videos of my children, as they have grown, but also videos from our vacations to Disneyland.
As a leader, what advice would you give to those new to the public assembly facility industry and to IAVM?
You’ve come to the right place! This is a career that is very rewarding as we play a role in gathering people together to share in a collective experience of entertainment, education, and emotion. There is no better way to learn about the industry and meet amazing friends and mentors than through IAVM. The more you jump in and get involved with IAVM, the more you will get out of the educational and networking opportunities that are available through the association.
What book are you currently reading?
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull.
Mark, why did you choose to pursue the Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) designation? Did you find the process challenging? During the process, did you learn anything about yourself that you would like to share with the membership?
Achieving the CFE designation was an important milestone in my career. Since I’ve spent my entire career in performing arts venues, this was an opportunity to test my knowledge of the similarities and dissimilarities of other venue types, and through this process, expand that knowledge. When it was all said and done, the question that kept coming to mind was, “Why did I wait so long to do this?”
Many find the CFE processes demanding and challenging. Is it worth the time and effort? Why do you feel the way you do?
There were definitely parts of the process that were very challenging, but in the end, the sense of accomplishment was so fulfilling that it was certainly worth all the time and effort. I strongly believe in lifelong learning for everyone, especially those in leadership positions. Going through this process allowed me to continue in that regard, with a clear goal in mind.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave to you?
Dick Bowers, the previous president here at the Herberger, always encouraged me to look at things from new perspectives. He quoted Einstein’s saying that, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” That is why conferences and education through IAVM is so important.
What motto, inspiration, or quote represents the way you conduct your day-to-day life? How so?
“Your focus determines your reality.” This is a reminder that what we dwell on can have a powerful influence on our perspective. If we only focus on the negative in a situation or a person, that’s all we will see. Whereas, if we focus our thoughts on whatever is true and admirable, we will see the good in others and a situation. That doesn’t mean we are blind to challenges, just that we come from a perspective of overcoming them.
What advice would you like to share for maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done with our jobs but we each have to make the time for family and faith. Looking back, I’ve never regretted attending any of my son’s games or any of my daughter’s performances, although sometimes it can be very challenging to get there. I’ve been fortunate in my roles here that I have been able to manage my time in ways to make it happen.
You are about to lead IAVM for the next year. Mark, where would you like to take the association? What do you envision as your legacy during your tenure as chair?
I’m humbled and honored to be in this role right now, standing on the shoulders of giants. This is an important time for IAVM with excitement coming around our brand and how we deliver valuable education and connections for our growing membership. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the leadership team that will diligently guide the association through this time of change, while passionately and energetically embracing the future of the industry for our members.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Richard Anderson, CFE, is fond of saying, “All of us are smarter than one of us.” It’s that attitude of collaboration that is so important to our industry and IAVM. I look forward to working with so many smart people in the year ahead. FM
(Image: MJ2 Communications)