This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Laura Caprioli, acting business events manager at VisitBritain/VisitEngland, shares what she has learned about herself and the industry during the industry’s continued time of uncertainty.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
A key learning has definitely been realizing how important the community is. The events industry is one big family, where we can all work together, sharing knowledge and expertise. This is an industry of people, for people, by people.
I personally learned to express opinions and ideas on how we all can make a difference. I got out of my comfort zone — not an easy task — but I understand that this is the way to achieve my own potential and leave a lasting impact. I started to be a catalyst for global economic and social progress and shape the future of business events, working alongside leaders to play a key role in present and future development.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my job is the positive impact I can leave on the event industry in the UK. I enjoy working on new, exciting, and transformative projects — this is a fast-paced industry where research, innovation, and collaboration are fundamental in order to drive change. Earlier this year I worked on a Legacy and Impact Toolkit in partnership with #Meet4Impact, and I am very proud of this recently launched resource that helps destinations learn how to navigate and embrace change as a core strategy for long-term strength.
I got to be an ambassador for postgraduate students, showcasing how great our industry is, motivating them to come up with new ideas, visions, and strategies, to fearlessly embrace the future, to deliver something impactful, to make a difference, and to shape the future of business events.
I loved all the events I attended, the extensive networking, and the valuable connections — they were key to developing my strategic thinking, exploring future trends, and understanding the long-term needs of our industry. Working with highly skilled and passionate people from different backgrounds helps me constantly grow, and keeps pushing me to do more and be better at what I do.
What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?
In the last few years, I learned the importance of communicating clearly and effectively with my stakeholders, asking the right questions and learning a lot about their needs. Dealing with different stakeholders is not an easy task, as they all work in very different ways. A key and critical part of my role at VisitBritain is having a strong relationship with the UK government — I have learned so much about their needs, the language, and ways of working.
I dedicated lots of my time to continuous learning by enrolling in educational courses and gaining expertise from event professionals. The new knowledge and market intelligence helped me to make informed business decisions and support VisitBritain’s business events strategy.
I also focused more on my public speaking skills, which led to new opportunities as a positive role model to inspire and connect undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in the events industry.
These uncertain times helped me develop my mindset to be more agile and able to invest in change. It has been an opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills and has given me the courage to innovate. I’ve developed new capabilities to solve complex business challenges and come up with strategic solutions.
Where do you look for new ideas and inspiration?
I regularly look at the media for any news regarding the industry, and keep scrolling through my LinkedIn feed many times during the day for any inspiration. I learn a lot from educational courses and webinars, and I love watching TED Talks and speeches from futurists who have interesting and insightful visions of the future. But mostly, I look at our competitors’ activities — seeing other countries’ and destinations’ plans and achievements is always very helpful.
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
The events industry is not easy, and often you might find yourself in stressful situations when dealing with your clients and partners, planning and executing events, or simply working on new projects. Remember to put all the problems into perspective and have an open mind — you will realize how many problems can be transformative opportunities.
Be sure to develop relationships and listen to the event professionals around you; every conversation and experience will help you grow both personally and professionally.
Most important, never stop challenging yourself and finding new goals to chase. You will gain confidence, resilience, and motivation. Think out of the box and set a new standard for “business as usual.” Be unique and continue working toward innovation, development, and new opportunities.