This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Malcolm Farrell-Mitchell, senior business development manager at Business Events Perth, shares what he has learned about himself and the industry during this continued time of uncertainty.
What have you learned about yourself — and the industry — during the past few years of uncertainty?
It’s all about perspective. It is a volatile industry and there is a whole range of factors that can impact whether events go ahead or if they’ll be successful. In the end, meetings and events are an important facilitator of ideas but if they don’t go ahead, it is not going to be the end of the world. This makes it all the more important that we make a real impact with what we can do because when people enjoy themselves and business is done, these are the good times.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the opportunity to dive into the world of another profession and learn about what they do. I love the fact that, because of my clients, I now know just a little bit about marine science and neuromuscular disorders and performing arts. I don’t envisage that I will ever be the smartest person in the room however, what I love about this job is that you get the opportunity to help the smartest person in the room — and sometimes that feels just as good.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone in the industry?
Be kind. Despite the language we use around “buyers” and “sellers,” this isn’t a sales industry. It’s a relationships industry. If you’re a good person, you’re kind and you genuinely care about the person across from you at the table, you’ll make an impression.
What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?
I don’t think I could say that I have “succeeded” over the past few years. I think, like most of us, I have done my best to get through the changes and impacts of COVID and in some ways I have failed spectacularly. However, what I would say is that the whole industry has learned to value the relationships and clients we have more than previously. I think I have managed to keep a sincere hope that events and tourism will come back and be as valuable as they ever were.
Where do you look for new ideas and inspiration?
I think most people who have been in the industry are a little bored of the usual “sales calls” and “scheduled appointments.” I try to make my client interactions memorable and also enjoyable. I find inspiration in the quirky and weird ways to engage people, often using inspiration from other industries. Why not go for a walk with your client, or join them on a journey of some kind going from A to B to save them some time. If you’re going to their workplace, remember to buy a gift for the receptionist/secretary —who is often underappreciated but has a significant influence on decision making.
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
You will hear some people in this industry say how they are underpaid and overworked. Perhaps this is true — however, I would argue that there are few industries in the world that take you as many places or allow you to be as creative as you can be as this industry does. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that the events and tourism industries are stepping stones whilst you figure out what it is you really want to do. Tourism is an incredibly rewarding career.