Vice President and Strategic Account Advisor Daria Wagganer on Learning and One-of-a-kind Experiences at BigSpeak
This week, we’re putting the spotlight on Daria Wagganer, Vice President and Strategic Account Advisor at BigSpeak. Daria is a veteran marketing and sales professional with experience in organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies in the software, e-services, education, retail, semiconductor and petroleum industries.
For Daria, the best part about being a sales advisor at BigSpeak is building relationships with a sea of different people around the globe while studying something new and fascinating with different teachers (speakers) every day. Being surrounded by motivational speakers who have changed the world for the better in their own ways feels like being a student at one of the best universities on the planet. “I always said if I ever won the lottery, I’d go back to school and be a student for the rest of my life— and in a way, I get to do that here,” says Daria.
Throughout her years at BigSpeak, Daria has gleaned all kinds of life lessons and one-of-a-kind experiences with different BigSpeak keynote speakers— like that one time she booked Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony Award-winning star of Broadway’s hit show “Hamilton”, and he sang to her during a virtual event. As a bona fide Hamilton and musical theater fanatic, Daria was on cloud nine for weeks. “OK— so he wasn’t *only* singing to me… but I’d like to think he was!” Daria admits.
Or the time that Robyn Benincasa made an “extreme athlete” out of Daria. Robyn is the founder of the Project Athena Foundation, dedicated to helping survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams like hiking the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park, or kayaking the beautiful harbors of Southern California. Daria joined Robyn and a group of supporting “Gods and Goddesses” who accompanied the group of survivors (her Athenas) on Robyn’s “Keys to Recovery” trek— a 120+ mile kayaking and cycling adventure across the Florida Keys in 2018. “It was an unforgettable, life-changing experience— and I can’t wait to do it again!” Daria said.
Another one of Daria’s BigSpeak highlights is when she and her niece Zoe, who wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, got to have a conversation with NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino. When Daria asked if Zoe could email him a few questions about becoming an astronaut, Mike responded, “I’ll do you one better, let’s have a Zoom call together!” Daria says to this day, she still gets teary eyed that Mike so generously took the time to create an experience for one child that she will never forget. (And Zoe even impressed Mike by putting up a Zoom background of the Hubble Space Telescope behind her midstream while chatting with him!)
Daria says that her most magical and memorable day though was the time she booked Matthew Luhn for an event in Orlando and got to spend a few hours with him and his daughter at Disney World and EPCOT Center. Both of Daria’s daughters are currently in college studying to be animators and story artists like Matthew— so he’s already a superhero in the Wagganer house. “It was surreal spending the day in the Magic Kingdom with someone who actually created some of the characters that were walking around us!” Daria recalls.
“The best part about this job is helping to create those magical moments for others, becoming a member of the team with my clients as we design memorable programs together, and helping my clients be the heroes in their companies’ big events,” Daria beams. “There’s nothing better than making a perfect match between a speaker and client— like a fine food and wine pairing— and hearing my clients say after the event, ‘Can’t wait to do this together again next year!’”
Want to learn more about Daria? Daria earned her Master’s degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University with concentrations in High-Tech Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Organizational Development— and earned her BS in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Kansas. She sings and plays the flute in regional theater productions and the coolest thing she’s ever done is perform in Carnegie Hall in NYC with her choir!