This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Kadejah Omokaro, DES, manager of conferences and professional development at National Head Start Association, explains why it is vital to take control of your own career growth.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
The industry taught me that my growth is my responsibility, but there are people who are willing to help me. As a “newbie” in the industry, I often wondered what my path to success looked like. I challenged myself to attend my first Convening Leaders alone last year. I met so many seasoned professionals, obtained a mentor in the process, and defined my path in the events industry. Networking is a huge part of the industry and I learned that connecting with others and basking in the community of like-minded individuals is a true catalyst to success.
I also learned that not only am I resilient, but the industry is as well. People love to connect, network, and engage. Whether virtual or in person, through travel bans, revenue decreases, and awkward face-to-face interactions, the events industry remains.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I plan to be a thought leader in the events industry, a senior director of events specializing in non-profit/association management with an emphasis on the attendee experience. In addition, my dream is to own an event venue. I’m hopeful that in five years that plan is well underway. Lastly, I would love to be a mentor to younger meeting professionals who are new to the industry because I know what it feels like to enter an industry with very little experience and guidance.
Where do you look for new ideas and inspiration?
My peers. I have never experienced an industry with such a family feel that actually enjoys sharing ideas with each other. In addition, attending events such as Convening Leaders is always my go-to for inspiration and education. Lastly, I enjoy reading industry-specific articles in magazines such as Convene, MeetingsNet, and Biz Bash.
What book or podcast do you recommend as essential for event professionals?
My current favorite career podcasts are:
- “EVENTFUL: The Podcast for Meeting Professionals” — industry specific
- “Your Next Move: Kimberly Brown” — leadership development
- “How to be Awesome at Your Job” — career growth and development
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
You won’t know it all and that is okay! Find a mentor, a network of event professionals, and intern whenever you get a chance. There are people who have done this before and have a wealth of knowledge that they are waiting to share. Be bold and challenge yourself, keep an open mind, and remain a forever student as you grow. We are never too old to learn new things.