Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 08 2014

How 20 In Their Twenties Is Already Paying Off

By Stacey Shafer



In 2013, the PCMA Education Foundation partnered with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Austin Convention Center with a big goal in mind: help the brightest young minds in the meetings industry find the tools and resources essential to their continued growth. The result? 20 in Their Twenties, a scholarship program that rewards the most impressive applicants of emerging leaders with complimentary registration to Convening Leaders, assistance with travel expenses and discounts on PCMA membership and PCMA events until reaching the age of 30.

While being named to the inaugural class was certainly a badge of honor, we wanted to get a deeper understanding of what the program really means to these rising stars. We recently caught up with Elisa Sandoval, Sales Manager at Hotel Nikko San Francisco and member of the 2014 class to see how the program has paid dividends in the first year.

“This program had an immediate effect on my career by the connection I have made,” Sandoval says. “I have been able to network with so many amazing people.”

One of those people is Ray Kopcinski, Senior Director at Million Dollar Round Table, who will act as Sandoval’s personal mentor. The two had their first chance to meet at the PCMA Education Conference in Toronto in June, and Sandoval says she is looking forward to arranging their first mentor session. Each winner receives a personal mentor, but Sandoval says that the program’s value cannot be summed up with one person.

“While each participant received one mentor, I feel that I have met so many potential mentors who have offered guidance and advice,” Sandoval says. “These invaluable connections are exactly what I had hoped I would get when I applied.”

All these connections will certainly be helpful as Sandoval looks ahead to her career.

“The meetings and events industry is so massive and ever-changing that I definitely see many diverse career prospects,” Sandoval says. “This is a very exciting time for our industry, and I am lucky that I can say that I have played a small role in its evolution.”

As that evolution continues, PCMA, the PCMA Education Foundation, Austin CVB and the Austin Convention Center are looking forward to helping recent college graduates shape the industry of tomorrow. The application process for the 2015 20 in Their Twenties class begins on August 6.

SEE ALSO: The Inaugural 20 In Their Twenties Class

“I would encourage an aspiring leader to participating in the 20 in Their Twenties program because it will give them a unique opportunity to be part of something where they can have a real impact,” Sandoval advises. “This is a channel that will teach leadership and collaboration skills and provide a chance to become engaged with PCMA.”

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