Celebrating Women’s History Month 2024 With Freeman President Janet Dell and BeMatrix CEO Tara Ericson

March 28, 2024
tara and janet

Celebrated every March, Women’s History Month is an opportune time to celebrate the female achievers of the trade show and events industry. In this third in a series of exclusive interviews with outstanding female industry professionals, we had the pleasure of speaking with Freeman President Janet Dell and beMatrix CEO Tara Ericson to find out how their organizations are supporting women, how the industry can accelerate gender equity and inclusion and what advice they can offer women to reach the C-suite.


Janet Dell, President, Freeman

Current role: Dell oversees Freeman’s long-term strategy execution across the globe. She oversees Freeman’s major lines of business and ensures the company meets the needs of our various customer segments. At Freeman, Janet has held multiple C-level roles and is named CEO successor, starting July 1, 2024. Under her leadership, Freeman continues to identify key partnerships and adapt its business models for a dynamic marketplace.

Janet Dell, President, Freeman

Back story: Before Freeman, Dell served as CEO of Marsh ClearSight, a global company in risk, safety and claims management software. Prior to leading Marsh Clearsight, she served as Marsh’s COO of Global Sales, where she was responsible for driving organic growth. During her tenure as Marsh Global Sales COO, the company’s annual new sales topped more than $1.2 billion and global new business doubled.

Woman to Watch: Dell has been recognized as a Woman to Watch by Business Insurance magazine and has received several awards for product technology innovation. She is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a business degree in finance, investment and banking.

What are you most proud of in terms of how your organization supports women?

Freeman is — and has always been — purpose-driven and guided by our values, and you can see this reflected in our people and programs. It’s why Freeman has been featured on Forbes Best Employers for Women for multiple years – our efforts around career development, working conditions, salary, healthcare, etc., for women have set the bar in our industry and beyond. 

More than a decade ago, we began to directly invest in the growth, development and advancement of women at Freeman. Today, you can see those direct results when you look at our leadership team, including our executive team and board of directors, led by Carrie Freeman Parsons as chair. We also have a highly active and empowered Women’s Leadership Development employee resource group that focuses on creating an environment where women will advance and thrive at Freeman. This includes the overall wellbeing of our employees, including paid parental leave (14 weeks for women/six weeks for men), breastmilk shipping programs for traveling parents, as well as consistent access to healthcare regardless of where in the U.S. they live.

What do we as an industry need to do next to accelerate gender equity and inclusion?

When employees look to their leaders, they should see both a leadership team that represents them, as well as a team that actively invests in their development and success. As an industry, we need to reflect on and act where we can break down barriers to progress by reflecting on key drivers – mainly, consider all aspects of the employee journey when building your strategy. For example, where are you recruiting from? How are you developing and retaining your current employees? And often most overlooked: How are you supporting re-entry to the workforce? 

Freeman’s talent acquisition strategy includes alliances with diverse organizations – particularly those that are female-led – with connections to more than 200 organizations, including Women for Hire. We engage our employee resource groups (ERGs) — at Freeman they’re referred to as business resource groups (BRGs) — to make connections with diverse candidate pools. We also look to stay-at-home parents, military veterans and those who are shifting careers or changing industries – really, any women who have taken an extended leave of absence and want to get back into the workforce – and provide industry-specific training and support in a way that creates connection, belonging and reflects our culture and purpose.


Tara Ericson, CEO, beMatrix USA 

Backstory: Ericson has more than 25 years of leadership experience, beginning her career as a sales manager at Naylor Association Solutions and culminating with her tenure as CEO for beMatrix USA. 

Tara Ericson, CEO, beMatrix USA 

Current role: As CEO of beMatrix USA since 2019, she has led the company through the rocky landscape of the pandemic and helped achieve record-breaking revenue for beMatrix post-pandemic.

Education: She has a bachelors of arts, communications and media studies, from Stetson University, located in central Florida.

Mentor of the Year: In 2023, she was honored with the Bronze Stevie Award for “Mentor or Coach of the Year – Business.” The Stevie Awards for Women in Business are business awards for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run. 

What are you most proud of in terms of how your organization supports women?

I take immense pride in the way our organization and our owners champion women. Throughout our ranks, women hold leadership positions, effectively upholding beMatrix's distinctive company culture, ensuring top-notch products and providing unparalleled customer support. Our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment, where diverse perspectives are celebrated, has been paramount to our growth and success. Witnessing the collaborative spirit and achievements of our team fills me with immense pride.

Do you believe our industry has made enough progress in enabling women to reach the C-suite? Why or why not?

In our industry, characterized by numerous entrepreneurs and family-owned enterprises, I'm encouraged by a notable trend where fathers are entrusting their businesses to their capable and talented daughters. While progress has been gradual, it's heartening to see an increasing presence of women-owned ventures entering the trade show and event Industry in recent times.

In my perspective, the pivotal strategy to expedite the inclusion of women in the C-suite involves nurturing mentorship and coaching by current female leaders within organizations. Furthermore, C-suite professionals should actively create leadership opportunities for women across all sectors. At beMatrix, we've remained steadfast in this pursuit, with women from diverse backgrounds holding various executive and leadership roles. To propel more women into C-suite positions, it's imperative to provide platforms for them to exhibit their leadership skills by leading teams and departments. While there's been progress in promoting women to such positions within our industry, there's still considerable room for further advancement and support.

I strongly advocate for women to engage actively in the numerous trade show and event industry associations, and seek out female mentors who can offer valuable guidance and coaching.


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