By RV Baugus, IAVM
His experience in public meeting rooms spans work in stadiums, arenas and convention centers, but it is for the latter that Robert Rose, CVE, will be recognized at VenueConnect in Phoenix when he hosts the Convention Center Lifetime Achievement Award. The retired IAVM member is most recognized with the Tampa Convention Center where he retired after 22 years with a myriad of titles including Event Operations Manager/Chief Operating Officer/Convention Facilities Director.
“Jim Finch called me and told me about the price and I said, ‘What! “,” Rose recalled. “I can’t believe it and the next thought was, ‘Are you kidding me?'”
That answer would be a resounding no for a respected industry professional who has devoted much of his career to the good of the profession as well as the convention center industry.
“I know people who have been blessed with this award over the years,” Rose said. “I was flabbergasted because I know all the committee work, the board work and the regional work and all those things that they have done in their careers and in building management.”
Indeed, Rose knows intimately what it takes to receive such a prestigious honor. He previously served on the committee that identified the nominees to receive the award.
“We had a great group of people who helped find the best possible candidates,” he said. “There were some extremely qualified people who were being considered and we were fortunate enough to be able, over time, to ensure that almost everyone received the award. It is a wonderful reward for anyone to be recognized in this way.
Rose noted the irony that last year’s recipient Barry Strafacci is also synonymous with the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.
“Barry has helped me in so many ways,” Rose said. “He’s actually in the same county that I live in. He was part of several committees (IAVM) and when I saw that he got the award, I was very grateful. He really worked so hard for the association.
The same goes for Rose, who became a member of the IAVM in 1978. He has served on many committees, including the convention center, research, advisory board, and membership. He also chaired Region 5 Officers and earned his Certified Site Manager designation in 2004.
“I had to learn from scratch because I came from a parks and recreation background in 1978 and had an assistant at this facility in Allen Park, Michigan who said I had to get involved. with (then) IAAM,” Rose said. “It was a brand new job and they had never had anyone running their facility. It was a civic arena that was primarily an ice rink, but we did special events and that’s where I got to know this part of the business and what to do with it.
From there, Rose went to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, where he learned from one of Lionel Dubay’s best during his five-year stay.
“One of my favorite things about Lionel is that he wants you to grow,” Rose said. “He loves that his trainees and all his staff get to know the company. He is very generous in this way and has taught me a lot.
With her Florida roots planted, Rose headed south to work at the Florida Suncoast Dome/ThunderDome/Tropicana Field, then Director of Event Services and Reservations with the MLB Tampa Bay Rays before embarking on a long and distinguished career at the Tampa Convention Center.
“In the beginning, even in the late 70s, and then probably at my first conference in the early 80s, people made me feel so welcome,” Rose said. “It was my first conference and here I’m talking to the people who run the association…a young kid and I didn’t know much at the time and I’m talking to the president of the association about the business and the characteristics that we should have to honor the industry and do the right thing.
“It’s the kind of moments you have to have to really help you look back and say I’m so glad I did all of these things and learned from all of these people. To receive this award is definitely a lesson in humility because I don’t know if I feel like I’ve had enough of a career to even receive such an honor. But I’m very lucky that someone felt that I was definitely somebody. one he wanted to acknowledge, which makes me feel wonderful.