This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Ashley Montoya, chief staff executive and membership manager at Civica Associations Conferences & Exhibitions, shares her thoughts on the importance of celebrating your wins.
What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?
Self-care and celebrating wins. I think these recent uncertain times have allowed for mental health to be less of a taboo discussion point. It’s important to understand how mental health directly impacts the ability to do your job well. Working at a company that has a positive work culture that supports employees’ overall well-being has been a game changer. Everyone experienced burnout at some point in the last two years, so learning how to avoid reaching the burnout point is so important. Also, celebrating all successes big or small, as a reminder of why we do what we do makes the uncertain times a whole lot easier. We’re all doing amazing things and need to be reminded of that sometimes.
What do you like most about your job?
My favorite aspect of my job is that no two days are the same. I encounter a wide variety of tasks, clients, projects, industries, and stakeholders every day. I’ve gotten exposure to so many different industries and job functions and love learning about different fields. I am constantly challenged and love to come up with creative solutions for my clients. Most importantly, knowing that what I do helps others become successful in their careers makes being in the association management world so rewarding.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
Never stop learning. Our ability to constantly transform ourselves is our greatest power. Whether it’s networking with someone and learning a nugget of information or listening to a podcast to help myself become a better team member, I always try to sharpen my personal and professional skills.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
I think so many organizations needed a massive disruptor to help challenge the status quo. It’s been refreshing to be encouraged to try new things with our associations and conferences that we might have been scared to do so previously. I think for many organizations, things were becoming “plug and chug” and the pandemic forced us to think outside the box to keep membership numbers and attendance up. Personally, I have found that I’ve challenged myself far more in the past two years than ever before. I think it’s been a period of personal and professional growth that was fueled by uncertain times.
As in-person meetings have resumed, what — if anything — do you think has changed about gathering face-to-face compared to pre-pandemic events?
We’ve learned that one of the most important things post-pandemic is the ability to connect with others. Now we are seeing that networking and collaborating with others has become a huge driver for renewing association memberships and registering for events. It’s important to be able to give people the avenue to connect with others in a professional and productive way.
Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2023, supported by PCMA Foundation and Experience Columbus, were recognized at PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, Jan. 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio.