Saying ‘yes’ proved to be the right answer. It’s what pushed Marsha Martin into a rewarding career for twenty-some years and counting.
Asked to host a grand-opening party for a major international company, with more than 600 guests expected to attend, there was only one answer that came to mind for Marsha.
“Sure, absolutely we can do that,” she said at the time.
It wasn’t until the meeting had concluded and Marsha was on her way home that reality set in.
“What did I just agree to do? I was absolutely in a panic for about a week. I had never organized something bigger than a birthday party or a family reunion.”
It’s a risky approach to a business deal, but it has proven to be a blueprint for success.
Two massive tents, one for food and drink and the other for fun and games, were set up in the company’s parking lot. Saskatchewan’s premier at the time was the headlined guest speaker. Interactive sports games kept the guests entertained. The food was delicious and drinks were plentiful.
“It was a roaring success. We had such a great time,” Marsha said of the event. “That was the turning point. That’s when I realized I could do this. I could host a big event and do it quite well.”
Marsha has since been asked to help organize lavish functions for numerous members of the British royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II, during their visits to Saskatchewan.
In 2005, she was part of the team handling internal and external communications for a royal visit to Saskatoon.
What does that entail? Memos to the media kept reporters and newsrooms in the loop on the royals’ schedule and Marsha served as the liaison for media at all public events. She was the go-between for the royal’s team and the local ground staff at the host facilities and for the RCMP, who assisted with security.
The royal visits were the most visible events. But it was the 100-year anniversary party for the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) that garnered the greatest number of guests.
More than 1,200 delegates gathered in Saskatoon for a week-long celebration. The MCC team took care of all logistics like hotel and hospitality rooms, transportation to and from host facilities and booking tours of local tourist hotspots, among many other intricate details that couldn’t be overlooked.
Other major events Marsha has helped organize include Kenroc Building Materials’ 50-year anniversary, a year-long event hosted at several Kenroc locations across western Canada; a uranium consultation tour that made numerous stops across Saskatchewan; the opening of the Mother Baby Unit at Regina’s General Hospital and three of Casino Regina fundraising events at the Show Lounge.
“We’re very good at what we do,” Marsha said. “I honestly can’t think of an example where we’ve had something go horribly wrong.”
What’s the secret to her success? Well, it’s not a secret as much as it is a laser focus on the master plan.
“Of the top five things you need to have, the top four would be the MCC team working the details, details, details and details. Scheduling needs to be broken down to the minute, especially when it comes to the royals.
“The only thing people see is the end result – the nicely-set tables, the food, the decorations, a sound system or video display. It looks like it’s so easy to do. But for many of these projects, we’re looking at 100 hours or more of time that goes into doing the details.”
And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Marsha, you immediately learn by her kindness and warmth that she always aims to please. But what does she get out of hosting all of these elaborate soirees?
“It’s at the end the night when the emcee wishes everyone a good night and you know everything has been done right and that everything went smoothly. It’s the most intense feeling of satisfaction. It just puts the biggest smile on my face and it reminds me that I love what I do.”