Meeting Planner Spotlight – Michael Mach, CMP, CMM, CED

March 20th, 2016 | hereschicago

Michael Mach Meeting Planner interview

Jim Grillo, CMP interviews Michael Mach, CMP, CMM, CED, Conference Program Manager of ISACA  for this month’s Meeting & Event Planner Spotlight.

How did you get into event planning?

Started performing in grade school band – then had opportunity to help produce and promote a concert for my High School band director’s friend’s band, matrixjazz – and THEN..I caught the bug for producing concerts, meetings and events.

What do you love about planning events in Chicago?

The more I travel, the more I appreciate and love what the Chicago region has to offer.   Incredible diversity, creativity and access to world-class resources without the attitude or “personal angles” that you have to deal with in other destinations.

What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)?  

Lizard’s Liquid Lounge on W. Irving Park Road.  Perfect anytime, but especially great before or after a Cubs game or when they’ve got live music.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

My parents – think different, be good, be kind, do well.

What kinds of things really make you laugh?

Creatively funny jokes, puns and sight gags. (okay, and a soft spot for corny G-rated jokes).

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?

Right here, right now!

Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her? 

I’m fortunate to have a number of great friends, but extremely blessed to have an awesome sister whom I consider my best friend.

What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so?

The Blues Brothers – great music, clever comedy and an awesome car chase showcasing the capabilities of an awesome city!

What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

Learning something new, exploring and experiencing a new place – quite often on the hunt for new Mid-century modern gems to add to the collection.

Do you have any pet peeves?

People who accept things as they are and don’t even consider looking at different perspectives or ask “Why?”, “Why not?” or “How come?”

What was your family like growing up? 

Wonderful.   Father who was an Alternative Medicine practitioner who taught us to think differently and consider all points of view.  Mother who was loving, caring and patient – combined with a gaggle of crazily fun relatives with unique perspectives all their own.

What were you like as a kid?

Active – exploring, always seeking to learn more and asking “now, what’s next?”

Have you received any praise or accolades recently?

Received one of the first 10 MPI/San Diego State designations bestowed worldwide as a “CED” – Certified Event Designer, utilizing the Event Design Canvas/Event Model Generation methodology.   This means I’m qualified lead a team or organization to quickly, effectively and strategically design (or re-design) and implement programs by determining behavior change in targeted stakeholders is desired.

What type of events you plan?

I’ve literally planned events involving everything from “Acrobats to Zebras”, but am currently working with a 45 year old 140,000 member international Information Systems and Technology trade association, focusing on producing the CSX Cyber-security Nexus Conferences in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

What type of music do you love?

All – at one point I was a music major focused on single reeds (clarinet, sax), I played guitars in rock and country bands prior to that.   Looking forward to attending the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony concert to see one of my favorites, Cheap Trick finally inducted.

When not working, what do you love to do?

Socialize with friends, learn new skills, read, play & listen to music, bike, hike and having driving adventures in my “fun-mobile”.

Besides your professional talent, do you have any personal talents?

Guitars, Ukulele, wind instruments…

Future trends in event planning? 

As the professional event manager is continually being asked to do even more with less and quicker than ever, I believe that focus will move greatly toward the “W’s” of events –“Who are you specifically targeting this for”. “Why are you doing this for them”, “What do you want them to do afterward because of attending this program?” and of course, “Why here, why now…and HOW MUCH?”

What is your favorite color?


What are you passionate about?

Creating and crafting something new from seemingly disparate ideas and crisply implementing on-point programs that achieve specific objectives, create change and provide stakeholder value.

What do you recommend for others who want to get into the event planning profession?

It IS a profession with much responsibility.   It’s not about kittens and puppies and balloons, and it’s definitely not a 9-5 gig.  What you’re putting forward work-wise should be professional, honest and genuine.  Similar to music, learn the rudiments, play well with others and know when to step forward to solo, as well as when to hang back to accompany others so they can achieve.

Do you have any Association affiliations?  I belong to MPI and PCMA and have my CMP, CMM and now, CED designations.

Are you a Cubs or Sox fan? 

I tend to attend more Northsider games.  But really, whoever is bringing the most money to the tax base is my favorite!

What’s your go-to meal when you’re home alone? 


What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? 

It was a great place to be from.

Which book(s) have you read multiple times?

A Wrinkle in Time, The 180-degree Theory, The Peter Principle, The Greatest Salesman in the World

What’s on your bucket list? 

Hitting the road to all 50 states and all 7 continents.

What was your First concert?

Other than playing in the grade school band – awesome concert by Jerry Reed at the Momence Gladiolus Festival.

If you had to go back to school or learn a new skill, what would you want to learn?

A trade –likely metalsmith and woodworking.

What are your thoughts about   

A tremendously valuable resource and a galvanizing organization for the Chicago meetings and events industry.    Amazing resource other markets should BE so fortunate to have (perhaps another reason why Chicago’s such a great event market?   Just sayin’.)

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