Employee Spotlight: Cynthia Flores, Exhibits Sales Manager
Cynthia Flores is Shepard’s exhibit sales manager. Based in Atlanta, she’s been working with the company since 2014.
How she got her start: Cynthia’s journey to Shepard was a bit unexpected: In 2014, when she was in between jobs, she saw a Craigslist ad looking for someone to make phone calls from home. But after a 45-minute phone call with the then-director of exhibits, she knew she’d found a place she could be passionate about.
“During that interview, I remember being really adamant that I needed to work for an organization that had high rapport, and that was ethical, sustainable and established,” she remembers. “And Shepard has been around since 1905. It really does feel like a family here. And once I was here, I knew I wanted to stay.”
Cynthia’s love of events and exhibitions, though, started much earlier. Growing up, her father—an immigrant from Mexico who started his own business —built custom exhibits for events, and often enlisted the help of herself and her brother. “I’m from Southern California originally, and we’d drive up to Sacramento and build exhibits for the state fair,” she remembers. “That’s how I made money when I was in high school! My dad still builds custom displays in my small hometown.”
Why she loves events: Working in events—and in exhibit sales in particular—has been a great way to marry Cynthia’s creative and organizational sides. She draws inspiration from her father’s work, of course, but also feels that her role pays tribute to her mother, who worked as a secretary. “I’ve always been creative, but in this position I have to also draw on the skills my mom taught me when it comes to thinking ahead and anticipating where there may be bumps in the road and having a plan for those bumps. It’s the best of both worlds,” she says.
Cynthia’s love of events is also tied to her passion for travel: Directly out of college, she traveled to 11 countries across the world in just 11 months.
Her favorite thing about working at Shepard: “The DNA of Shepard is that we truly care about our customers,” says Cynthia, adding that she’s particularly inspired by the company’s collaborative spirit. “It takes every single department to make an end client feel cared for. I would not be successful if I didn’t have a supportive team with years of experience and expertise to draw on. Our designers take our vision and put it to paper so that the client can conceptualize what is possible. The operations teams are the ones who build these exhibits and make it physically come to life. It literally takes so many different hands to touch an idea and bring it to life on a show floor.”
She adds, “Everybody here really does care about their role and ensuring the exhibitors feel cared for.”
Memorable moment: Speaking of collaboration, Cynthia gets particularly inspired when she can collaborate with customers to help them reach their goals. “Coming back from COVID, we’re working with a lot of people who are new to the industry, who are still trying to learn how to make their exhibits stand out,” she explains. “So for me, being able to see an idea go from concept to reality is my favorite part of the job.”
One particular example she’s proud of? The booth design for WhiteWater at the World Waterpark Association’s Annual Symposium & Tradeshow. “They used to have a larger space on the trade show floor, and they needed to reimagine it into a smaller footprint without jeopardizing the attendee experience,” Cynthia remembers. “Knowing they had less square footage, we decided to do a double-deck booth—and it ended up being named Best of Show that year.”
Cynthia loved seeing a customer find success by thinking outside the box. “It was really fun, and great being able to see her stand out because she took a risk and did something different.”
Where she finds inspiration: Other than her creative spirit and passion for collaboration, Cynthia is most motivated by her nieces, who she works to help ensure they have more opportunities than she did. “My dad provided opportunity by exposing me to doing these out of the box and creative things. My mom instilled the importance of being financially responsible but also to explore outside my comfort zone. I want my nieces to be able to take risks and venture outside the lines without the fear of not having a safety net to catch them if they fall,” she says.
The advice she’d give her younger self: “Don’t be afraid to occupy space,” Cynthia says, noting that as a first-generation American, she often struggled with her confidence in a corporate environment. If she could go back in time, she’d remind her younger self that she does have the talent and skill set to succeed. “Be confident and go for it.”