“The concept of community has taken on extra resonance during the pandemic. One of our core values is to create connections for everyone, engaging and supporting those with similar interests. Our work to support the next generation is no exception and has taken on extra resonance recently as we’ve shifted our efforts online to continue to support young event professionals,” says Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group.
The IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum programme is a global programme for budding event professionals and takes the form of a series of Forums around the world. Each Forum, designed for students in the final year of a hospitality, event or tourism management course, is a unique and free opportunity to learn from and connect with industry experts and fellow students. Some Forums also offer the opportunity for students to showcase their creativity and compete in the International University Challenge.
In response to the pandemic, the IMEX team took a fresh approach to these Forums, re-working them for the online world. Seven online Future Leaders Forums have taken place to date, attracting over 350 (369) students from 11 countries. The first virtual Forum was held as part of PlanetIMEX in May last year, which also hosted the final of the International University Challenge 2020. The brief for this year’s International University Challenge has also evolved to address the challenges brought by the pandemic, and now focuses on planning an event in a post-pandemic world.Students are very aware of the challenges of entering the event industry post pandemic but remain optimistic and motivated as Jacobi Wozniak explains: “I have a lot of uncertainty going into the event industry. When I chose this career path, I never imagined that I would be going into a virtual event world. I love people and I miss in-person events so much.”
Jacobi studies at Madison College and participated in the Future Leaders Forum during PlanetIMEX October 2020 edition. She continues: “I’m currently looking for internships and it’s proving to be quite difficult. I believe that the increase in virtual events has resulted in technology taking over some of the jobs that a person would be doing. However, I’m hopeful that the vaccine rollout will pave the way for live events to return and am looking forward to this.”
Carina Bauer explains: “We’ve reshaped the content of our Future Leaders Forum programme in line with students’ current needs, so that it continues to offer relevant and timely support. The programme is created in tandem with students to ensure it delivers the tools they need to navigate the current climate.“It has never been more important for the next generation of planners to come together – our recent outreach to our Future Leaders Forum community has shown they have significant concerns about finding a job and building their own business in the aftermath of the pandemic. We don’t want them to become a lost generation. We need to keep attracting talent into our industry.
“Students who’ve attended the Future Leaders Forum have gone on to incredible success and even leadership roles within our industry. We know that the connections made during a career in our industry lead to a lifetime of friendship and support.”
Over 150 Forums have taken place since the launch in 2003 with nine scheduled for 2021. The next IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum is set to take place online on 26 May, with a live Forum scheduled for IMEX America, 9- 11 November in Las Vegas.