Leadership


How an international association is shaping the future of its industry by nurturing senior talent

group of people sitting on chair in front of table with macbook

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

An international association representing convention and exhibition centre managers devised a programme to engage its members, nurture leaders - and solve industry problems.

Brussels-based AIPC invited 14 senior leaders with more than seven years’ experience to take part in an intensive nine-month leadership acceleration programme.

The programme was delivered in three overlapping phases, beginning with a series of lectures, leading onto a mentoring scheme – matching participants with CEOs from the AIPC membership – and finishing with a group challenge to solve pressing industry problems.

The results of the last phase were presented at AIPC’s conference in Budapest last month.

AIPC chairman Greg O’Dell said the leadership programme added ‘another layer’ in between the association’s academy and conference, to ‘support the future of the industry’.

He said: “Not only have we created a hugely beneficial resource to our members, the outstanding ideas presented at the conference will also leave a meaningful legacy for our industry at large. The ideas, business papers and project plans that were presented to our members through the conference have delivered us a pathway to a more automated, collaborative, meaningful way to plan events and communicate with our clients.”

AIPC CEO Sven Bossu said: “Nine months ago, 14 future stars of the industry were hand selected to participate in the AIPC Future Shapers program following a rigorous application process that included a video pitch, a short essay and a commitment to an intensive leadership program designed to fast track the career progression of senior leaders. We now have a team of alumni that will network globally to continue to challenge our industry and engage in a better future for us all.”

 

We caught up with Stephanie Martin, head of sales at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, who took part in the scheme to get the lowdown.

MCEC head of sales Stephanie Martin

MCEC head of sales Stephanie Martin

How did you get to take part in Future Shapers?

I was fortunate to be asked to apply whilst on maternity leave in 2021 with the intent to bring my learnings back to the business when I returned from maternity leave in Feb 2022. Through the programme we have been able to connect with some incredible people that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity without this program. The network and connections we now share will be lifelong and I know together we will keep advocating for our industry and ensure we continue to create strong career pathways for our people.

What were the three biggest things you learned on the course?

Diversity and cross functional teams are key. Diverse thought and leadership are what create great things. To quote Cathy O’Dowd, one of our incredible speakers, “you need a small group of people who have a huge vision”. The inaugural Future Shapers cohort really embodied this given our varied experience, navigating through time zones and our day jobs.

Secondly, listening to our people and customers continues to be king. We carry a great deal of responsibility in ensuring our customers can continue to meet and achieve their desired event outcomes, with so many tied to legacy, sustainability and of course revenue generating activities to support our business and theirs in their continued operations.

Finally, in terms of our people, events have returned quicker than expected and we have all had to continue to monitor and measure the health and wellbeing of our people. We also know so many have left our industry, so we need to continue coming together to ensure our career paths remain attractive and desirable to the current and future generations.

Tell us what you pitched as your idea to help benefit the AIPC community?

For 35 years there have been several event core systems available to convention centres however there has not been a single disrupter to take the industry to the next level with greater ability to connect, collaborate, and provide customers with self-service tools.

We deserve one platform that provides an integrated turnkey solution for all events,  a centralized platform for all information and real time communication and collaboration, something that allows customers to self-service and stay connected. Our answer to this was EventShaper, an event management platform and client portal, built by venue experts for event management professionals. It would provide end to end services including booking, communication, event design and account management planning tools using real time data, so you and your clients stay informed, organised, and connected — all in one place. The idea was that it would reduce costs for multiple licensing, increased revenue through effective yield management, allow registration, hotel accommodation or virtual events. CRM Automation 

You met with several mentors, what was a standout quote that has stuck with you?

Bigger is not better, it’s smaller and smarter!

AIPC CEO Sven Bossu said: “Nine months ago, 14 future stars of the industry were hand selected to participate in the AIPC Future Shapers program following a rigorous application process that included a video pitch, a short essay and a commitment to an intensive leadership program designed to fast track the career progression of senior leaders. We now have a team of alumni that will network globally to continue to challenge our industry and engage in a better future for us all.”