A Fast-Paced Career in the Trade Show Industry
Sofia Troutman, Eller MBA ’00
Customer Engagement and Industry Relations Manager, Skyline
By Sue Kern-Fleischer
It’s a new week full of hundreds of trade shows worldwide and Sofia Troutman is smack in the middle of it all. Or, at least her company, Skyline Exhibits, is well-represented through its clients’ exhibitions at many of the shows.
After six years with Skyline and two previous promotions there, Troutman was recently promoted to Skyline’s customer engagement and industry relations manager. Managing a team of three, she draws upon her branding, innovation, and product commercialization expertise to lead all marketing efforts relating to customer engagement, exhibitor education, and industry and market research.
“Our goal is to help clients trade and grow business,” Troutman said. “The main reasons people attend trade shows are to see new and existing products and to learn about services. Skyline has been a global industry leader for designing eye-catching, approachable, and memorable exhibits that help with brand awareness, lead generation, and relationship building.”
Born in Mexico City, Troutman is a U.S. citizen who now resides in a suburb of St. Paul, MN, close to Skyline’s headquarters. Having lived in Latin America for 12 years, she is fluent in Spanish. She believes that her multicultural background has made it easier to work with diverse groups of people and to empathize with client needs.
She did her undergraduate work in Economics at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and enrolled in Eller’s full-time MBA program in 1998.
“I wanted to start my own business, so I looked into Eller’s entrepreneurship program,” Troutman said, adding that her education helped her land associate marketing manager positions with Pillsbury and later General Mills.
She did venture into entrepreneurship in 2006 when she launched her company, Culture and Language Insights. For the next three years, she worked part time providing Spanish interpretation, training, and translations to clients.
She credits Eller for helping her learn important communication skills. “The relationships I built with my classmates have been wonderful. Working in teams with them taught me almost as much as what I learned from our professors,” she said.
She also was very active on campus, serving as a leader of the MBA Student Association Marketing Working Group and a founder of the Spanish Conversation Group.
What does she like best about the work she does now?
“I enjoy the variety and the challenges to solve problems creatively and work with diverse teams,” she said.
And while her company is a global industry leader – Skyline estimates that $6 billion of commerce takes place each year within exhibits that Skyline has designed and produced around the world – the pressure to innovate and remain a visionary force in the industry is always there.
“I’m constantly developing my digital marketing, management, and other skills,” Troutman said. “I oversee multiple digital and traditional marketing efforts, ranging from social media, content marketing, trade show participation, speaking engagements, and more. It’s fast-paced and every day brings a new challenge, but I thrive on that.”
Troutman currently sits on the board of directors for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her school-aged boys, hiking, gardening, reading, and cooking.
Top photo courtesy Sofia Troutman.