She has her MBA in Marketing, has designed events all over the country, launched her Interior Design business and balances all of this while being a new mom – so who is she?!
Her name is Kerri LaGrutta-Otto. She’s built a name for herself in the event planning industry as the most successful account manager for CORT events over the past 8 years and she’s here to share her top tricks on maximizing your budget, balancing work/home life, and how she got her start in the industry!
How did you get your start in event planning and interior decorating?
I launched my career in events eight years ago. A fellow alumni of Iona College recruited me after he saw that I had my MBA in marketing and had worked in the fashion industry. He thought that pairing would be a good fit and he was right! It truly was such a wonderful position for me and I’m the most successful account manager at CORT events to date. I’m still there today and absolutely love designing events and meetings all over the country and locally in the New York metro area. Interior designing is something I’ve always done in conjunction with CORT. It’s always been such a passion of mine ever since I was a little girl. This year I have taken it to the next level and launched my own brand, LAGRUTTA DESIGNS in the interior decorating world and I couldn’t be more excited!
What is your favorite venue that you have ever decorated?
There are so many venues in New York that are absolutely stunning but my favorite kind of venue are those that are a total blank canvas. I love to start from scratch and create an event experience from the ground up. It’s a fun creative challenge. Since my specialty is event furnishings, the larger the space the better!
I also have to say designing my own wedding two years ago was one of my favorites as well, for obvious reasons! It was featured in about five different wedding publications too.
What are the best ways to maximize your budget while planning an event?
I work in the luxury events market in Manhattan so budgets can be tricky! For both corporate and private social events you need to first make a list of what’s most important to you. You have to figure out your guest list first and foremost because that will dictate the rest of your budget planning. Then you’ll have to weigh in what’s most important. Is it rental furnishings, food and beverage, entertainment or floral design? Allocate your spend in each department and sort through what you can do and stay on target. I personally want the best experience for my guests so if that means shortening the guest list, so be it! I have to have great food, CORT furnishings and beautiful flowers! I’d rather have less people and treat them amazing verses having too many people and not doing it right.
How do you achieve the work/life balance, especially with a newborn (and adorable) son?
work- life balance is key to a successful career and happy family life. If you don’t integrate the two, both will fail. I’m the type of woman that works when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. It’s blending the two that will give you that balance and make you happy. When you have a career that is essentially 24/7, it’s imperative that the two are integrated. I’m proud to have an accomplished career and being a great mommy to my perfect little baby boy!