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Planner, Actress, Patient Advocate, and Patient

MGME’s Cheyenne Nelson uses her personal history and varied experiences to help pharmaceutical clients build more impactful meetings.

Cheyenne Nelson, HMCC, MMP has been in the meetings industry for only five years, but she was a fast learner because she had a solid head start. A former professional actress, Nelson has been staging memorable performances for audiences for much of her life.

Nelson moved up quickly in MGME (formerly McVeigh Global Meetings & Events), starting as a program manager for two years before becoming a proposal development manager. For the past 18 months, she’s been a business development director for MGME’s life-science division. With each role she takes on, though, Nelson makes sure that her own struggle with kidney disease and her Native American ancestry guides MGME’s approach to educational content within clients’ medical and pharmaceutical events.

From March 24 to 27, Nelson will take on another event-related role: co-chair of Pharma Forum, the largest conference for meeting organizers in the life-science industry. In Tampa, Fla., during that week, Nelson will interact with fellow planners on issues such as patient representation at meetings, equal representation of minority groups in medical research, and others.

Here, Nelson explains how her experiences have shaped the way she goes about collaborating with clients on creating impactful life-science meetings.

MeetingsNet: What are the main duties you have in your present role, and what do you like most about the role you’re in?

Cheyenne Nelson: On the surface, my role is straightforward: I am here to develop and grow new event business. For me, this is about relationships and trust. I have been fortunate, though, that those relationships have let me expand my role into opportunities to speak at events and to educate other planners in the pharma space as well as the wider meetings industry. My favorite aspect of the job is sharing knowledge and creative ideas to support our clients and other planners.

MeetingsNet: You graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and then spent several years acting professionally. How does your experience as a stage performer guide the way you approach your role?

Nelson: My time as a performer taught me how to communicate a story; there is such a direct connection to meetings and events in that respect. Additionally, an actor always has to be an excellent listener and to stay engaged in the moment. Obviously, this also translates directly to forging strong client partnerships.

MeetingsNet: Given your personal experience with kidney disease, how do encourage clients to incorporate patient perspectives into meeting content?

Nelson: While I am not the decision-maker on content, I do have a unique perspective in the pre-market space because I have participated in clinical trials myself. The hope that comes about when trials are going well is truly inspiring for everyone, but even a trial at early stages is already providing hope for those of us without treatment options. When we can show things from the patient perspective and tell a story, it is much more engaging for everyone. We utilize every medium possible to tell these stories and our creative team does a great job on that.

MeetingsNet: Do you think that the pharma and med-device event niche as a whole uses enough patient storytelling and interaction with attendees?

Nelson: I don’t feel there could ever be too much emphasis on patient stories. But as capabilities advance in the field of medicine, it is also extremely important for HCPs and sales teams to understand the how and why as new products come to market. There has to be emphasis on both.

MeetingsNet: What meeting-planning issues are you most looking forward to discussing with other planners at Pharma Forum in March? The rise in meeting costs that strain budgets? Lead times becoming so much shorter? Service-staff shortages at host properties? Something else?

Nelson: Yes to all of the above! But overall, I am always looking for out-of-the-box solutions. The more that medical-event planners and thought leaders can share in an environment like Pharma Forum, which isn’t judgmental and fosters growth, the better we all become. I’m definitely a proponent of less competition and secrecy between planners.

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