The 2023 B-to-B Dream Team
✩ TEAM CAPTAIN ✩
CURRENT POSITION: Director-Events, T-Mobile
DREAM TEAM TITLE: SVP-Brand Growth
WHY WE WANT HIM: He’s navigated behemoth organizations and is now helping to build one. We’ll take his balanced perspective, and viewpoint through magenta-colored glasses.
Dean Armintrout’s first job in events was at a call center for Maritz Travel Company, answering phones for tech conferences. Having just graduated with an English literature degree, he had no idea events was an industry he could pursue, but working on conference registration and housing got his foot in the door. Quickly moving up through Maritz, Armintrout started working on the Microsoft account, building out online registration processes for large-scale tech conferences.
He would move into the event marketing side of Microsoft’s projects, eventually managing the client as account director. After seven years at Maritz and looking to relocate to Seattle from St. Louis, Armintrout tapped into a connection he had forged at Microsoft to see if a job was available, and by chance, a role had opened up. Two months later, he was living in the Pacific Northwest, beginning a 13-year career at the brand.
“I started out on their global events marketing team. I touched almost every event Microsoft does—everything from the really large-scale user conferences and customer partner conferences to some smaller training events to global c-level events,” he says.
After getting a promotion to director on the partner marketing team, Armintrout says he found himself wanting to make a change and arrived at a crossroads of either committing his career to Microsoft or seeking a new opportunity. T-Mobile happened to reach out with a role leading and growing its events team, and Armintrout jumped over to the telecom company as director of events in 2017. Today, his team tackles T-Mobile’s major b-to-b, consumer, media, internal and c-suite events. He supports company-wide events, from thousand-person multi-city internal meetings, to press launches, to all-employee webcasts to tentpoles like CES and Mobile World Congress.
“Half of my team focuses on our trade show business, which has grown significantly,” he says. “We now do 40 to 50 events a year—everything from our mid-level booths, like a 20-by-20 experience, all the way up to the large-scale experiences at the bigger tech conferences, as well as a lot of customer hospitality experiences. We do a lot more hospitality in terms of tying into the partnerships that T-Mobile has across sports and other areas.”
Armintrout has experienced T-Mobile’s growth firsthand, having joined when the company was considered an underdog in the mobile space and then going through its merger with Sprint in 2020, coinciding with the pandemic, which brought Sprint team members into T-Mobile’s existing events team. He says his team went on a hiring spree to prepare for post-pandemic events that needed to reflect a company that doubled in size due to the merger. The shift to virtual was helpful in breaking down barriers among the team that was used to being in person in Seattle, as it integrated remote team members from other parts of the country. Today, the team is working on more events than it did in 2019.
“It was fascinating to join T-Mobile because I came from Microsoft, which is this behemoth of a company with a lot of process, to a company like T-Mobile that didn’t like the word ‘process.’ And it was very nimble and agile, and we had to be in order to stay competitive and disruptive,” he says. “It really is what made T-Mobile successful and what made our team successful, because we could change things on the fly. I always tell my team when you do great work, more great work will come, and it did. So slowly, our team started building.”
On challenges in b-to-b events, Armintrout points to the difficulties that come with this being in the era of information overload and audiences’ shortened attention spans. Event marketers have to figure out how to attract attendees in just a few seconds and then keep them engaged. T-Mobile’s signature bright magenta branding is certainly one helpful draw.
“While we had a hybrid component to some of our events, even pre-pandemic, that’s not really who we are as a company. We are an in-person events company,” he says. “We like connecting with our customers in person, and there’s a lot of value in that. The pandemic made us shift that, and we, thankfully, were able to pivot very successfully, but it did open the doors for how we can connect with people. Technology has changed the game.”
Looking toward the future of events, he emphasizes the importance of measuring ROI.
“It’s partly about leads, but it’s what we do with those leads, how we track them, how we assign to sales, how that turns into pipeline and how we then use that to show the importance of the events in which we participate,” Armintrout says. “We need to be making smart event investments based on data. That will be critical as we continue to evolve.”
He also expects to see more of a focus on sustainability. At the end of January, T-Mobile announced its commitment to achieve net-zero emissions across its entire carbon footprint by 2040 and signed onto The Climate Pledge, a cross-sector community of companies and organizations working together to solve the challenges of cutting global carbon emissions for a sustainable future.
“Our team has started building out an event sustainability policy. We’ve been working on trying to figure out how we make our booths more sustainable and our events in general—everything from the food and beverage decisions we’re making, to our giveaways, to not doing giveaways at all,” Armintrout says. “Sustainability has to be at the forefront of what everyone is doing because, as you know, events are some of the worst culprits from a waste standpoint, and we’ve got to figure out how to fix that.”
We think Armintrout’s up for the challenge, and the role of our team captain.