Leadership / 01.20.21
Paciolan’s Lisa Langham on Looking Back and Looking Forward
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
While being interviewed for this feature article, Lisa Langham surprised herself a little when she came to the realization: “Oh gosh, I’ve been in the ticketing industry in some form or fashion for more than half my life at this point!”
As such, Paciolan’s Senior Director of External Operations is a great person to give advice to young people just entering the business, especially young women. “I would encourage a young woman just starting out to advocate for herself,” she says. “As women, I think we often find it hard to speak up and ask for what we want or what we feel we deserve. We struggle to express the value we bring and, too often, settle for less.”
Langham’s time in the business started in college working at a regional theater in downtown New Brunswick, New Jersey, called the George Street Playhouse. She worked in ticketing through graduate school. When the time came to start paying down her student loans, a friend pointed her in the direction of the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. She spent three years there, first as Assistant Box Office Manager, then Box Office Manager and eventually Director of Ticketing.
“At every point of advancement in my career — even early on as a ticket seller in New Brunswick — I can remember that all-too-uncomfortable conversation where I asked for more responsibility, explained what I brought to the table and why I should be given the opportunity to step forward into a new role,” she says, still in full advice mode. “Not every one of those conversations went as I would have hoped. But even if 50% of them went in my direction, I was still ending up ahead. So, I would say, ‘Prepare your thoughts, have proof points ready and have the uncomfortable conversation.’ Sure, the person could say ‘no,’ but they could also say ‘yes,’ and that’s a 50/50 bet you should always be willing to make on yourself.”
Langham eventually got the opportunity to move across the country to Southern California and try her hand at the other side of the industry. She started with Paciolan in 2007 as a Client Partner and has been with the company ever since. Paciolan is a leader in ticketing, fundraising, marketing, analytics and technology solutions. The company powers more than 500 live entertainment organizations that sell over 120 million tickets per year.
“As Senior Director of External Operations,” she says, “I have the pleasure of working with our e-commerce and professional services teams. Our e-commerce specialists work with our clients to optimize their online sales channel, consult on industry trends and e-commerce best practices, and implement new online features to improve the online fan experience. Our professional services team focuses on new client implementation, consultation and training, as well as platform upgrades and new product rollout. I also work with several of our third-party partners, such as Sidearm Sports, StubHub and Fevo, managing the day-to-day operations associated with our platform integrations.”
As with so many reading this article, Langham’s job has changed considerably since the pandemic hit last March. “Paciolan went to a ‘work from anywhere’ remote environment, which, for me, meant setting up workstations in both my kitchen and home office so I could move between the two as I navigated working from home with a toddler in tow,” she says. “Working from home has also meant finding new ways to stay engaged. What so many of us love about working at Pac is the people — our co-workers, our clients, our partners. So, it has been important for us to stay connected with everyone even though we’re all working from our own personal space. We spend lots of time on Zoom meetings and, let me tell you, ‘Zoom fatigue’ is a real thing!”
She adds, “From an industry standpoint, the pandemic has required companies like Paciolan to shift focus and deliver solutions that are direct responses to the health concerns we are living with every day. Because we partner with so many college teams, we were lucky to be working with clients who were welcoming fans to their venues. But live events in a pandemic look vastly different than a typical season. So, we got busy rolling out new features developed by our product organization and consulting on strategies such as mobile only ticket delivery, timed entry and tap-and-go access management. We also worked closely with our clients to manage new processes forced upon us by the pandemic and reduced capacities. So, although the number of events we supported this fall were less than a typical year, our teams were busier than ever.”
Langham likes staying busy. The favorite parts of her job are threefold. For one, she loves working with people she also considers her friends. She describes her Paciolan colleagues as a “whole other family that I get to work with every day.” She also enjoys the problem-solving aspect of her job. In addition, she says, “I love that no two days are the same. Some days, no two hours are the same! But I find that I thrive in that environment and really enjoy helping our teams establish new processes, find efficiencies and come up with creative solutions to the problems that our unique industry throws our way.”
When challenged, Langham has often relied on some guidance she received earlier in her career that has stuck with her throughout. “It wasn’t really advice,” she says, “but a way of training that I found to be very impactful and that I still use on occasion today. I had just been promoted to Box Office Manager in Trenton and had never done a venue scaling before. As so many of your readers probably know, the request for a show scaling can be a timely one, and how you handle it can mean the difference between booking a big act or losing it to a neighboring venue. Mike Scanlon, our General Manager at the time, would call up to my office, rattle off a few scaling scenarios (‘Lisa, I need an 80/20 and a 70/20/10 in 30 minutes!’), but he would never tell me whether it was real event request or if it was a test.”
She continues, “I’d stop what I was doing, feverishly put together the scaling and deliver them to Mike and learned very quickly how to stay focused under pressure, check and double-check my work, and reprioritize the other tasks on my to-do list to ensure that things were still getting done. I used this training method with many of my staff members and have used the skill set that Mike helped instill in me every time an urgent request of any kind comes across my plate — though it’s been a while since I’ve cranked out an actual show scale.”
Mostly, Langham tries to stay forward-thinking. In the short term, she is looking forward to INTIX 2021 and serving as conference co-chair. “I’ll be in and around the conference world to welcome our guests and help guide folks through this new, virtual experience,” she says. “I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends, meeting new ones and taking in all the wonderful content the Education Committee has planned for us. I also can’t wait to see how conference participants like the virtual world that Maureen Andersen and the conference team have put together with Virbela. I mean, come on, you can arrive to the conference in a speed boat! How cool is that? Personally, I think folks are really going to get a kick out of it!”
As for the year ahead, Langham was reluctant to give anything resembling a forecast. That’s understandable considering everything the world has gone through and all the uncertainties still ahead. Instead, she says, “If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to expect anything. So, rather than make a prediction, I’d like to leave you with a statement of hope. I hope that 2021 brings with it a greater sense of normalcy. I hope that we can get our communities to a safe, healthy place so that we can visit our loved ones, hug our friends and go back to enjoying those little things in life that we had taken for granted pre-pandemic. I hope that Dr. Fauci’s prediction is right and that we see full theaters, arenas, stadiums and other live entertainment venues before the year’s end. And I look forward to the day when a client calls asking for our help preparing for a major sellout event. That will be a day to celebrate!”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing