Women in Flooring: Dana Teague- Balancing roles leads to success

January 18, 2016

Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 2.32.09 PMSurfaces—combined with StonExpo|Marmomacc Americas and Tile Expo to comprise The International Surface Event (TISE)—has made some major strides since its inception in 1989, most notably in recent years as the industry has picked up from the Great Recession. That being said, the expansion of TISE would not be possible without its leadership team, which includes Dana Teague, vice president, design group, Informa Exhibitions US.

Teague said she has had more fun over the past year than she has in her entire professional career, which includes 20-plus years in trade shows. “Yes, I’m busier, but the work and the challenges are professionally and personally fulfilling. Informa is a large international company—with 6,500 employees in over 20 countries operating more than 150 exhibitions—but it is agile and puts a strong emphasis on people and culture.”

Formerly Hanley Wood Exhibitions, Informa acquired the organization in late 2014. According to Teague, one of the most significant positives coming out of this change of hands is going from being owned by private equity to being publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange. “With that comes a different mindset when it comes to growth,” she noted. “Another advantage is the instant global reach we now have. We have gone from being a mostly domestic show organizer to a global show organizer.”

For Surfaces, Teague has a team of 12, led by Amie Gilmore, show director. This past year Dwell on Design designjunction and the Sample Sale were added to Teague’s portfolio with a team of eight. “These teams are cohesive, hard working and love to have fun,” Teague said. “It makes the time spent in the office energizing and enjoyable.”

She credits the more recent steps of her impressive journey to mentors at Hanley Wood/ Informa, including Galen Poss, former president of Hanley Wood; Michael Green, former executive vice president; and Rick McConnell, president, Informa U.S. Construction & Real Estate. She started with Hanley Wood in 2000 managing the International Autobody Congress & Exposition. Five years later she moved on to Surfaces and StonExpo. “I started at the collision repair show,” she recalled. “It wasn’t an ideal fit, but it was great. You have to learn the products and immerse yourself in the industry. Moving to Surfaces and StonExpo in 2005 was a whole new learning experience.”

In the time since Teague started at the show, the industry—along with the entire country—endured a draining downturn. But the bounce back and consistent growth of the flooring business in recent years since has kept things at Surfaces upbeat. “Trade shows mirror what’s going on in the industry,” she explained. “As the industry has grown 2%, 3%, 4% every year that’s what the show has done as well. We launched the co-location of Surfaces and StonExpo in 2011 as they were both struggling. It was one of those actions you take to make sure both events stay successful. There was crossover with attendees; it seemed like a very natural fit.”

Wearing different hats

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In the midst of developing her career and working toward the prominent position she holds today, Teague had to balance her professional responsibilities with being a mother to her son and daughter. While this seems like the norm today, it is no easy feat. “Work-life balance for a working mother isn’t always easy, and being a single working mother makes life a little more hectic. Then add in a career where you are on the road a fair amount of time—life can become extremely complicated. Luckily, I had a great support system of family and friends around me. Without them I’m not sure I could have continued at such a hectic pace.”

Despite her busy schedule in her roles as both mother and business professional, Teague has always stayed focused by prioritizing and keeping work and fun in a reasonable balance. “You make it work. There are so many working mothers today. For a lot of us, we work because we want to work. I quite honestly don’t know what I would have done with myself [if I didn’t work], even when my kids were small. I have gotten great satisfaction from raising my children, but I have also gotten great satisfaction from my career. We look for satisfaction in all areas of our lives. I think my children were better off with me working. I was more whole, so I could pass onto them my work ethic and the fact I was a happier individual.”

During her time spent in leadership roles, Teague learned when it does or doesn’t matter that she is often the lone female amongst male colleagues. More often than not she feels her gender hasn’t presented any issues. “I can’t say that I’ve really faced many challenges simply due to my gender. Any challenges I’ve faced were most likely due to my own insecurities and lack of confidence as a woman. Some women in business think they need to act like a man. Women tend to be more nurturing and emotional by nature and that’s OK. Be yourself and have confidence in who you are.”

The challenges that have come up for Teague in terms of being a woman were in some countries where she has travelled for international events. “As business becomes more global, there can be roadblocks for women in certain cultures. You may not always be able to overcome the challenges but an understanding and acceptance of the differences is the best way to deal with them. You have to prove yourself to gain respect.”

Teague is most proud of her ability to adapt to different situations and unexpected changes over the years. She worked through several acquisitions while with Hanley Wood and managed events for various industries. “Regardless of what has come my way, I’ve been able to easily adapt and succeed. Today I can say I have such great people that I work for and with. They have been key in my success and my ability to just work hard and do my job. I remain energized about things.”

For ambitious women seeking to capture a position like Teague’s, she suggests believing in oneself. With hard work and confidence—and without a fear of failure—any goal can be achieved. “There is a saying, ‘Behind every successful woman is herself.’ Don’t depend on others; you are in charge of your own success and destiny. Take failures as learning experiences and move forward.”

For working mothers like herself, she implores them not to feel guilty. “Your kids will turn out just fine despite the hours you spend away from them. You just have to make the time you spend with them count. Turn off your phone and computer. Be fully present with your family; minimize the multitasking. Your kids grow up fast.”

What’s next?

Teague’s goals for Informa continue to focus on innovation to help keep shows fresh and exciting. She plans to slow down with her team to “examine each aspect of the shows to determine what is working, what isn’t and what may need to be tweaked.”

Acquisitions may be in the works as well. “We are continually looking for new events to acquire or partner with, both domestically and internationally,” she said.

Growth is something recognizable for Teague and TISE colleagues. Preliminary numbers for this year’s event are up across the board, including housing at 23% ahead of this time last year with a 9% larger show floor. “It’s a year of celebration,” Teague said. “The industry is doing well, and the show is doing well.”

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