This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Diana Zarate, client relationship manager at Shocklogic, shares her perspective on the continued importance of virtual options despite the welcome return of in-person events.
What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?
The key skills for me are resilience, problem solving, teamwork, and mindfulness. These have been skills I have worked on more consistently during the past three years at Shocklogic, where the culture of the company has allowed me to cultivate and sharpen my skillset. I am challenged by a team of event organizers from different cultural and professional backgrounds who impact my way of thinking and help provide solutions. I am truly grateful for them and the growth we have had together as a team during these uncertain times.
What do you like most about your job?
I am passionate about what I do. My job is an important part of my personal development because I highly enjoy getting involved in organizational activities. Being in the events industry has allowed me to learn and develop skills to manage worldwide events and has taught me how to adapt to many environments, situations, and cultures. I also enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds as I manage each project. I am exposed to many points of view, work styles, and ways to manage professional relationships. I particularly like to create close relationships with my clients resulting in positive work environments that I see reflected in the final outcome.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
The past few years have provided one of the richest learning periods of my life. While the events industry searched for ways to continue working without face-to-face meetings, I had to adapt my personal spaces into a work-from-home environment. This impacted me in a positive way as it helped redirect my attention to stimulate my creative problem-solving mindset.
The industry, too, adapted. With the help of a major advances in technology-based solutions for virtual meetings and large conferences, stakeholders learned how to communicate and collaborate in virtual spaces to keep projects moving forward. Now that face-to-face events had returned, the hybrid meeting model has added value because delegates now have more options to participate remotely.
As in-person meetings have resumed, what — if anything — do you think has changed about gathering face to face compared to pre-pandemic events?
There is an awareness of the importance of having a wider set of options to allow all stakeholders the ability to attend events on site or virtually, which has given the opportunity to organizers to reach a bigger market. Also, as the recovery continues, new processes have been put in place to ensue the health and safety of attendees that have impacted registration, on-site check-in, and information distribution inside venues. This has taught us how to keep the events industry safe and the need to keep all of our professionals updated at all times.
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
My advice would be to keep learning. The most important thing event professionals can do is keep updated on the needs and trends of the industry and then share that knowledge. Join associations that provide many tools to learn and create a network of event professionals. They allow young professionals and students to get involved in the industry and offer great opportunities to help them move forward with their careers.