President/Chief Creative Officer Total Event ResourcesShare your story
“Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Work hard and you will succeed.”
Persistence is the key to success and RMU Alumnus, Kathy Miller, is a prime example of how not giving up pays off in the end. Having graduated with a Secretarial Program Certificate from the Carthage campus, Miller has pushed her way to the top as the current President and Chief Creative Officer of Total Event Resources. The global, certified woman-owned meeting and event planning agency will celebrate its 19th anniversary on November 21st. Miller continues to grow her company through work with countless Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations, and nonprofit organizations.
Through her career, Miller has had the honor of receiving numerous awards for her accomplishments, including the Kathy Osterman Award from MPI-CAC (Meeting Planners International Chicago Chapter), the Lifetime Achievement Award from NICE (NACE ISES Chicago Excellence) Chicago, and the Volunteer of the Year Award from International Special Events Society. Yet, the road to success has not been easy.
Growing up, Miller had a difficult time figuring out her career goals. Both of her parents did not attend college and had no means of financially supporting her college aspirations. Miller decided to use her entrepreneurial spirit at an early age to ease her transition for furthering her education. Her first job involved selling coffee and lemonade across the street from Wrigley Field to baseball fans at the age of 10. Dreaming of going to college, Miller entered the work-study program and worked two jobs during her senior year of high school. “As a first-generation student, I was challenged with navigating the college process on my own. I did not have parents who could provide insight. I did not have a college graduate to lean on. But I made it! I saved enough money to escape my tough childhood and attend Robert Morris University,” Miller shared during the October 25th RMU Commencement Ceremony keynote speaker speech.
The rigorous coursework and experiences outside the classroom provided the base to Miller’s prosperous career. “The business skills learned during my RMU education are skills I still use today as a meeting and event planner and business owner; skills such as proof reading, attention to details, multi-tasking, and much more. My education helped lay the foundation for what it takes to be a successful business owner,” she states.
After graduating, Miller used her RMU network to step into the hospitality industry. Having figured out that she did not like her banking job, Miller contacted one of her RMU classmates, who was working for Hyatt Regency Chicago in convention services at the time. As her curiosity of the hotel industry and convention services grew, Miller applied for and landed a job with Hyatt. While at Hyatt, Miller continued to learn valuable skills, while also making important connections for her future. She was promoted four times during her eight years with the company.
In 1995, Miller started her event planning business in a spare room of her home. She set out to produce twelve events a year. The first year proved very successful, as she surpassed her goal by producing 30 events nationwide. Since then, the company has expanded to offices in Schaumburg with 11 hardworking employees. Total Event Resources has become known globally through the thousands of events produced by the company over the years. “As I started to build my business, I realized that if I surrounded myself with people that knew how to do the things that I didn’t, and they loved what they did, we could grow our company and provide a wide range of services,” Miller shares in regards to the secrets behind her success. The unique, diverse, and passionate team has helped Miller create and maintain the growth of her company in the industry.
In addition to her duties as the owner of Total Event Resources, Miller believes in the importance of giving back to the community. Over her career in the industry, Miller has volunteered with numerous industry associations. Most recently, she concluded her 8 year commitment to the International Special Events Society Board of Governors, where she served as International President of the association from 2012 to 2013. Miller has also worked with organizations like Streetwise and DIFFA Chicago. In regards to the importance of volunteering, Miller explains, “Giving back is an integral part of the Total Event Resources culture. Just as social responsibility events are becoming more common, we are inspired every day to make a difference in the world around us and to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate.”
Kathy Miller has found how to turn her passions into success by applying the dedication and skills she learned from her time at RMU. She was selected as the Keynote Speaker for the October 25th Commencement Ceremony at Arlington Heights. Miller shared her story with the graduates, as well as important advice for what to remember after graduation. Miller shared one of the most important life lessons with the audience as she concluded with the following, “Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Work hard and you will succeed.”