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Creating opportunities for future leaders

Published 30th March 2021

Two young professionals taking a selfie at the Future Leaders Forum

One of our core values at IMEX 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.

Hannah Lee, Conference Producer at IMEX, has written this blog to introduce you to the IMEX-MCI-MPI Future Leaders Forum, a place for students and industry experts to learn from and connect with each other.

As a Conference Producer at IMEX, I look after the Future Leaders Forum programmes worldwide. I graduated in Event Planning at university a few years ago and I’m so happy to be a part of the global business events industry. But I also understand how overwhelming it can be to start a career in events (not to mention during a pandemic!). And that’s where the Future Leaders Forum comes in…

The Forum is a global programme for talented students considering a career in the business events industry. We run our year-round programme in partnership with MPI and global meetings and events company MCI – so you know you’re in safe hands!

The Future Leaders Forum aims to provide students with ‘real-life’ education about the events sector - many of our speakers are currently working in the industry in successful jobs and even leadership roles! The Forum also enables valuable connections with industry experts and fellow students. Our mission is to inspire you - the next generation of event professionals - to start your career in our incredible industry. If you’re entering your final year of a hospitality, event or tourism management course, the Future Leaders Forum is the perfect opportunity for you.

I want to share three ways that the Future Leaders Forum will help you:

1. Supercharge your learning

The Forum provides free education which centres around the challenges and opportunities you’re facing now, such as networking (with an increased focus on online networking since the start of the pandemic), tips for launching your own business, and building your personal brand to stand out against competition. You’ll be in the company of handpicked industry experts, who are ready to impart their wisdom about working in the events sector.

Our roundtable sessions allow you to speak to multiple industry professionals in small groups and ask them any questions you like. We work with you directly to help you stand out and succeed! One FLF participant shared the following in our anonymous survey, “It was refreshing to meet with professionals who were willing and eager to speak to us as students and educate us on their journey in the industry.”

2. Networking that works for you

Networking is a skill that improves with experience – but you’ve got to start somewhere! The Future Leaders Forum provides a safe space for you to network with fellow students and industry professionals without the pressure of “doing business”. And our participants agree, with one student sharing, “The roundtable session was fantastic, we were able to speak to industry professionals in a smaller group. I also enjoyed meeting all of the students who shared the same passions as I do.”

The format of the Forum means you can break up into small groups and easily find common ground. There’s also a chance to meet exhibitors and explore the show floor at selected events. One survey respondent found this very helpful, “It was a great opportunity to get onto the trade show floor! I really liked that the exhibitors set aside time for us.”

3. The kick-start to your career

Creating a network of valuable contacts could help you kickstart your career. One student fed back, “The Forum allowed me to meet with people in the industry, as well as students who in the future can be my partners, allies or suppliers.” You never know who may prove to be a useful contact down the line!

Being in a room with accomplished event professionals openly sharing the successes, challenges and failures of their own career path, can be really inspirational. It might help you understand the direction you want to take. Alternatively, you might spot a gap in the market for your skills and experiences. Be open to opportunities because you never know where they’ll pop up!

The Future Leaders Forums take place at IMEX America and IMEX in Frankfurt and at other industry events. During the pandemic many of these events have transitioned online, making them even more accessible. You can find the full list of Forum locations for 2021 on our website. For more information on how to sign up, please send me a message on LinkedIn or email.

Be the first to know about our next Future Leaders Forum event by following us on Instagram and joining our LinkedIn group. If you know anyone who might benefit from attending the Future Leaders Forum, please share this blog.