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Christine Trimmer, International Society for Infectious Diseases

From a dappled glade in the Cotswolds…

Christine Trimmer is CEO of the International Society for Infectious Diseases and, perhaps just as importantly for the meetings industry, Regional Advisory Board member of the Professional Convention Management Association, PCMA. Rob Spalding had some questions

RS As executive director of International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), you serve 80,000 members in more than 140 countries around the world. How long have you been doing that?

CT I have been in this role since the beginning of April 2017. Previously I was Executive Director of the World Obesity Federation, WOF, for seven years and when the opportunity with ISID came up, I threw my hat into the ring. The sector is incredibly interesting and the work of the Society has a direct impact on the lives of so many people, much like WOF, so I knew that this role would be both challenging and fulfilling.

RS As a specialist in change management and strategic development how have you changed ISID since you have been there?

CT It’s early days yet, but the main focus of my work has been to undertake a strategic review. We are now more closely aligning the diverse outputs of the Society with the strategic priorities of the review. We have also made some changes to the governance structure to better reflect the new priorities and ensure the input from the experts on our committees is maximised.

RS What specific problems does ISID face?

CT As with many international associations, ISID has some challenges. While profitability of international congresses is decreasing, competition for their established events is increasing. Other issues include diversifying activities to improve income streams, being agile enough to respond to opportunities as they appear and having the capacity to cope with constantly changing levels of work and project focus.

RS You are also European Advisory Board member of the PCMA.  What is its main aim – and what is your role on it?

CT The board was established to support PCMA in understanding what the gaps are in education for business events strategists in Europe. Through education PCMA aims to inspire, connect and innovate within the global business events community. I believe this is an important initiative to be involved in and if I can contribute to the success of PCMA, I am acknowledging the importance of business events in today’s ever-changing world.

RS And what fresh perspectives have you brought to the board?

CT My value is my experience of international associations. I have worked in both the UK and America, and have managed associations that have members all over the world. I hope to work with the other members of the board to provide insight and advice on the needs of business event strategists in Europe.

RS Until now, PCMA has been regarded primarily as a North American organisation. Why now Europe?

CT PCMA’s mission is not restricted to North America, and nor should it be. The value of improving the education, knowledge and career prospects of event professionals is global – and this is why I am committed to supporting it in its mission. PCMA is a global organisation, based in North America, with the potential to instigate substantial change in business events, which directly impacts on the global economy and anyone involved in events.

RS What can PCMA offer Europe that similar organisations – like ICCA – can’t?

CT There are a number of truly excellent organisations offering education on business events in Europe. PCMA differentiates itself by being an organisation that has a primary focus on educating the event professional. Whether that professional is from an association, an AMC, a corporation, a destination, or a venue, PCMA offers continued professional learning. I attended Convening Leaders in 2014 and was blown away by how excellent the education was. I joined PCMA immediately and have attended Convening Leaders every year since. I came away with new insights, new network connections and a renewed passion for events that I hadn’t experienced anywhere else. If I saw the value in the education that PCMA offers, then so will others in Europe and around the world.

RS What are the main cultural differences between European convention organisers and North American association meeting planners?

CT There is a definite career path for association meeting planners in North America. It is not really well recognised as a profession in Europe and I think this is where the main difference is. By raising the profile of the work that business events strategists do, PCMA will be able to provide a community for event professionals and consequently raise the profile of the benefits of a recognised career path.

RS What trends are emerging in the meetings industry – both internationally and continentally?

CT It seems to me that associations with activities based in one continent are still holding successful meetings. Those who have a more global remit are facing more of a challenge. Across the board, seeing what impact digital events will have on the industry will be very interesting.

RS What do you do to switch off?

CT In my downtime, I read (science fiction and crime thrillers mainly), work out at the gym, watch loads of Netflix originals and cook lots of delicious food. I love being outdoors and my perfect escape hatch would probably be on a blanket, in a beech glade in the Cotswolds, with dappled sunlight and lazy summer sun warming my face while I read and drink wine!