Chapter News

Meet our 2020 Daignault Award Winner – Leslie Sargent

What brought you to the meetings industry? It was a fluke, really.  I have a degree in Broadcast Journalism from LSU and after a short foray into radio, I decided that it wasn’t as glamorous as I had envisioned.  My roommate at the time worked at Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans and LOVED IT- I was hired in a sales role at Le Pavilion Hotel on Poydras and the rest is history! I was hooked and never looked back!

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? Drink more water, moisturize and for heaven’s sake, don’t bake in the sun. 

What difference has PCMA made in your career?  PCMA was the first large industry event that I attended- not telling you the year, but it was in New Orleans and the Sheraton and Marriott were co-hosts.  I was working at the Sheraton by then and was drawn into the large scope of the event but was endeared by the intimacy of it.  

Whether it is Convening Leaders, GMC- PCMA or PCMA Educon- this is what feels like home.  #blacklivesmatter

 #stopasianhate and lgtbq legislation should be at the forefront of this all-important work…. not just a hashtag, but listening, learning, and acting.  PCMA is giving a voice to those who have not been heard and it is powerful.  

What is your greatest career accomplishment? 30 years with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.  I haven’t even been married that long!!

What is your greatest personal accomplishment?  Our family: Jack (25) and Cooper (22) are the best there is. My husband Dave keeps all of us on our toes!









What exactly do you do at work?  I am a Key Account Director with Caesars Entertainment now.  I work with some of our company’s top third party accounts, representing the Caesars brand of properties.  I have been so blessed in my hospitality career, but this job- this company, is the icing on the cake. 

Please tell me a little about your journey to the Richard Daignault award, how did you get here, who was important to the process, what did you do to prepare?  I have had so many amazing sales leaders and mentors throughout my career, many of them women who were ahead of their time. From my Starwood time, Carol Lynch, Lynda Hayes, Diane Sanker and Jennifer Hamilton, all played a significant role for me. An additional thank you to Destination Toronto and specifically to Rebecca DeLuca and Lisa Messina at Caesars Entertainment who took a chance on me!

The amazing thing about our industry is how many people we meet and how many lives we touch.   Based on my longevity in hospitality, my customer and colleague lists are so long and go so deep that it is impossible to name all those important to the process.   How lucky is that??!! 

This is where the Dick Daignault award intersects. He was all about mentoring, supporting everyone that he met.  When the pandemic hit our business in such a debilitating way, I made it a priority to stay connected with those who lost their jobs or were forced into looking for new opportunities.  Our friends with lifelong careers, endless knowledge and experience were foraging for new positions.  Assisting with LinkedIn support, working on resumes, passing on job listings has become a passion. 

 As we continue to come back, it is important to remember how to lift everyone up- to make sure we are reaching out to those who need it the most.

What does receiving the Richard Daignault Award from GMC PCMA mean to you? As a supplier, it is truly the highest honor.  This award is named for a great mentor who showed tremendous respect for his colleagues, peers and competitors so it is quite humbling.   

What’s your 2020 pandemic story? I think it is the same as everyone else’s- 

Lots of banana bread and care packages came out of my kitchen during those first few months.  

Seriously though, our immediate family experienced job loss, job change, a senior in college missing out on everything and another isolated in Chicago. Family members and friends unable to be seen except through Zoom calls.  The pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone in every part of the world, some more than others.  Getting everyone vaccinated is a priority to getting our lives and our industry back and better than ever. 

If you had to switch places with a famous person who would you switch places with? Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.  So much good could be done in the world with 19 billion $$$$.  

What’s your walk-up song? Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down) by Chumbawamba 

What music motivates you?  I mostly listen to pop/top 100.- My iTunes account looks like a 13-year-old girl’s!

What would you do if you won the lottery? Pay off some debt, take care of my family, go on a vacation, build a home library and then start a charitable foundation. 

What’s something no one (or very few people) know about you? I was an on-air reporter for a small radio station out of college.  

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Hitchhiked in college. 

Who’s your favorite author?  I could go on for days, months, years about my favorite authors.  Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Diana Gabaldon, Sarina Bowen, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Talia Hibbert, Olivia Dade, Steve Rushin, Michael Lewis…. I really do need to win the lottery to support my reading habit. 

What was the first concert you attended?  Journey.  I think Steve Perry winked at me. 

Jacky ListonMeet our 2020 Daignault Award Winner – Leslie Sargent