Claire Smith, CMP, Chair, 2018 PCMA Board of Directors

Author: Convene Editors       

Claire Smith

Claire Smith, outgoing chair of the PCMA Board of Directors, speaks at the closing of Convening Leaders 2019 in Pittsburgh. (Jacob Slaton)


What were your goals as chair?

I really wanted to help make sure that as Sherrif Karamat took on the role of CEO and president, the transition was as seamless as it possibly could be, and that the board supported him in the opportunity to look at things a little bit differently. With change there is always an opportunity.

PCMA and the board of directors had approved a new strategic vision and plan for the organization, and this was the year for the PCMA staff to begin to put it into operation. It is great to have a clear vision of where the organization is going and a great framework, but how does that translate into action? It has been exciting to see this come together.

Another goal was to begin to look differently at member engagement, asking questions about how we engage with the organization’s past leaders and with our volunteers. I reached out to many volunteers and heard feedback, not only about how meaningful their contributions were, but how there was an opportunity to make their involvement even more effective. There is a reimagining of how people engage with PCMA that’s now  evolving because of that feedback.

It has been wonderful to work closely with David Peckinpaugh [chair of the PCMA Foundation] to build even closer alignment between the Board of Directors and the Foundation — making sure that we were communicating and collaborating more frequently.

How do you see PCMA’s role in the business events industry?

Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with our members and our audiences from chapters right through new global events, and it’s been a profound experience to get the perspective of the industry from so many different angles. What’s clear to me is how our challenges are so similar regardless of whether you are a business events professional in Washington, D.C., or a business events professional in Bangkok, Thailand.

PCMA’s role is connecting, educating, and inspiring business events professionals. Incredible things happen because of the events we touch. We do ourselves a bit of a disservice when we talk about business events based on the individual roles that we play — “I am a venue” or “I am a registration and housing manager.” We need all of us working in collaboration and harmony in order to deliver incredible experiences, but also to create incredible outcomes. PCMA’s opportunity is in really telling that story of the global impact of business events.

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