“Every good meeting planner has a horror story,” Ushma Suvarnakar, Annual Meetings Manager, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and 2013 Chair of the PCMA Emerging Leaders Task Force, says. “You can almost consider it a hazing process.”
Well, not the kind of hazing process you might think of in the fraternity/sorority realm - - but more in the learning-life-lessons-the-hard way vein. As Suvarnakar and the Emerging Leaders Task Force look ahead to Convening Leaders 2014 in Boston, they’re hoping to help make that process much smoother for young planners with a session that allows young professionals to hear about those “horror” experiences from more seasoned planners.
“We want to clue more of our fellow emerging leaders into the power of being proactive rather than reactive,” Suvarnakar says. “We all know that’s an ideal mindset, but it gets lost in the planning process in the midst of so many details unfolding.”
The New Definition of An Emerging Leader
While this year’s task force is focused on developing additional sessions for Convening Leaders that focus on technology, the ins and outs of hiring interns and other timely topics, Suvarnakar highlights that this group also hopes to challenge the conventional definition of emerging leaders.
“Emerging leaders aren’t just those who are young and right out of college,” Suvarnakar says. “We’re trying to get out of that mindset and state that emerging leaders can also be those who switch careers and are new to the industry.”
As Suvarnakar enters her eighth year in the meetings industry, she says that she’s officially on the cusp of no longer falling into that “emerging” class. Nonetheless, she knows that mastering the meetings industry requires plenty of continuing education.
“By 2028, a good majority of the workforce is going to be a member of Generation Y or a millennial,” Suvarnakar says. “More of our attendees are going to continue to embrace technology, and more pieces of the planning process will continue to change. As we continue to cater to a multi-generational audience, all planners will need to take steps to ensure that they aren’t alienating any of the demographics.”
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