After another year of disruption, members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2022 are proof positive that adaptability is a requisite skill for business events industry professionals. Carina Stihl, CMP, DES, senior events and experience manager working remotely for the Pragmatic Institute based in Arizona, shares what innovations she hopes will remain after the pandemic.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
“It is all right for things to go wrong.” As event professionals, we try our best to make every meeting and event perfect, but things will happen. If we can adapt and come up with creative solutions rather than dwelling on what went wrong during the event, we will be able to learn and design better experiences in the future. I am an absolute perfectionist and sometimes it can be very difficult to take a step back and think of an alternative solution, rather than worrying about the change, but it is essential in this industry.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, so we need to embrace the changes, rather than fighting them. We are now able to reach audiences within our market that previously would not have been able to attend our events. The return to in-person events has been highly anticipated, but virtual and hybrid events make attendance much more attainable for a broader audience.
Our industry will forever be grateful for the opportunity to meet in person and never take anything for granted again. I believe this will lead to more appreciation for things that were so normal before, like a handshake or a hug.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
The pandemic led me to pursue my CMP designation, along with my DES. I worked on both certifications in the evenings and weekends and did not see much of my fiancé — but I am so proud of my achievements. I became much more familiar with virtual and hybrid event technology than I ever would have expected, which will continue to be useful skills in the future.
On a more personal note, I have fine-tuned my cooking skills even more, tackled my own wedding planning, taken my two golden retrievers on endless hikes, and unleashed my creative side with the purchase of a Cricut (cutting machine for crafting).
What creative initiative or innovation have you seen this year that you believe should remain in a post-pandemic (or living-with-the-pandemic) world?
The increase in sessions focused on mental health, or resources provided by event professionals during their events should remain in a post-pandemic (or living-with-the-pandemic) world.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in acknowledging healthy ways to manage stress, like offering yoga classes, different apps, meditating exercises, and even painting. It seems that companies are addressing mental health more openly and I think that is so important and can create a huge shift in the world of events.