Chapter News

Member Spotlight: Kimberly Castanuela

Meet Kimberly Castanuela, Senior Logistics Manager, for Vizient, Inc.

Kimberly Castanuela has just finished an hour-and-a-half virtual meeting about clinical skills for her members and later today she will be heading into an internal meeting to discuss a digital platform for her company’s larger meetings that will go on-line later in the year.

Such is the work life for this Senior Logistics Manager for Vizient, Inc.

Vizient, Inc serves more than half of the health care organizations across the country providing its member facilities with purchasing power, data, education and insight so they can perform at optimum efficiency. Vizient has been immersed with its clients during the COVID-19 facilitating equipment for front-line workers, providing education and in the case of McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, managing its temporary hospital there for a little under a month.

“I wasn’t there,” Castanuela said, “but it makes me very proud to work for a company that is fully jumping in and helping the hospitals in all the ways they can, either with capital or just the education — providing them the courses and outlets to get the education while they are in the hospital setting.”

Hospital members will probably be facing on-line education for some time, Castanuela said due to economics and the health conditions of the country.

“The hospitals have zero travel budgets. They have zero bandwidth to let their workers leave to travel, to go to meetings…to do anything,” Castanuela said. “There are many medical meetings that have cancelled all the way through 2021 even, because the hospitals and the doctors don’t have the budgets to do anything.”

Castanuela and her logistics team have executed numerous on-line meetings during the last five months focusing different education for CEOs, clinicians, pharmaceuticals, etc. In the past some of those meetings were in person, but not now. “We already provided webinars in the past to our members. Now it is 100 percent virtual,” said Castanuela who offers up her outline for preparing an on-line event. “Have a risk management plan. Go through every single piece of it — registration all the way through to your speakers. Here’s the areas, here’s the process, and if this happens, then what? And just having a back-up plan.”

A 20-year veteran of the meetings business, Castanuela has spent over half of that time working on medical meetings which in today’s climate is a very busy and ever-changing world — which feeds into her passion for doing this type of work.

“There is always a challenge,” said Castanuela on one of the reasons she loves about this industry. “There is always something new to think creative about or come up with a new solution. Nothing is ever the same. There is no monotony in this work.”

And the other reason? “All the people. I just love having the face-to-face interaction with people,” said Castanuela, who said she has been told she is a high-functioning introvert. “It’s because at the end of the day I go to the corner to be alone. But I do enjoy people and how happy they are and then seeing the survey results.”

A Houston native, Castanuela moved with her family to El Paso where she graduated high school and after starting college at Texas Tech finished her education at the University of Texas-El Paso where she earned a degree in public relations.

After graduating, Castanuela moved to Salt Lake City, but stayed in touch with her Texas friends some of which were in the hospitality industry.

“My best girlfriend was working in sales at the Residence Inn in Addison (TX),” laughed Castanuela retelling how her friends’ jobs sounded exciting. “I had another girlfriend in catering in Austin. I just thought her life sounded so fabulous. She got to go to galas and plan them.”

Castanuela applied at hotels in Salt Lake City and snagged a convention services coordinator position at the Wyndham Hotel. When she later moved back to Texas she didn’t find a hotel position, but did find one in meeting planning.

“I stumbled into a meeting planner role with a medical education company and that was a blast,” Castanuela recalled. “We had 30 meetings a week across the United States for physicians so they could consume medical education. That’s how I fell in love with the health-care side of things.”

In her position, Castanuela is privy to conversations about the progress on the COVID-19 vaccines and she sees a promising future.

“I feel hopeful” she said. “It’s going to take a while to recover. I think it will probably take all of next year. We have to work together to recover next year. I think it will happen.”

Notes: Castanuela worked eight years as Senior Event Manager for the International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE). She was a director for the PCMA Gulf States Chapter for five years as a treasurer and secretary.

Hobbies: Loves riding her bike and hiking. “Anything outdoors.”

Favorite Movie: Overboard (the 1987 version)

Jena VonderhaarMember Spotlight: Kimberly Castanuela