This year, PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties program honors its 10th class of exceptional young leaders in the business events industry. Class member Nikki Bibbero, owner and event manager at Bibbero Meetings and Events, shares what skills have been key to her success during the industry’s continued time of uncertainty.
What skills have been key to your success during these uncertain times?
Learning to set boundaries has been of utmost importance to me these last few years. Three years ago, none of us had much work on our plates. These days, we’re trying to do everything we couldn’t in the last three years all at the same time. Because of that, people put high demands on each other. For me, being able to say things like, “I can’t right now, but here is when I can,” “I can’t do that, but I can do this,” or just flat out “no” have been crucial to making sure I keep my work-life balance and still love what I do, while giving my clients what they need. I think everyone should learn that it’s okay to not work 12-hour days, seven days a week.
What do you like most about your job?
My favorite part of my job is being onsite during an event. You spend months or years creating something that at times feels distant and intangible, but from the moment you walk into a pre-con you finally get to experience your vision and hard work come to life. Greeting people face to face for the first time at a registration desk, seeing signage that you labored over displayed at the venue, or simply witnessing the joy that your event is bringing to others bring me happiness and make me want to continue doing what I do.
As in-person meetings have resumed, what — if anything — do you think has changed about gathering face to face compared to pre-pandemic events?
Now, more than ever before, the most important part of face-to-face gatherings is the networking component. People are craving that in-person human connection that they missed out on for so long, so while providing exceptional educational content is the heart of a conference, it is equally important to create situations that foster relationship building. Whether that is scheduling longer lunch breaks, building pods for people to step into for one-on-one conversations, or having the unforgettable evening reception that people can bond over during and after, facilitated and freeform networking is the most crucial aspect to implement in a post-pandemic event.
Where do you look for new ideas and inspiration?
I look for new ideas and inspiration from within the heart of our industry. My favorite way is attending conferences like Convening Leaders and WEC, because I always walk away with a notebook full of thoughts and ideas. From seeing something the hosts of that event designed or hearing a speaker who I would bring to my clients, to experiencing the cutting-edge trends in entertainment, I come home from conferences as recharged and engaged with new thoughts as I do wanting to sleep for the next five days.
What advice would you give students who are interested in pursuing careers in the events industry?
I’d guide them to do two different things. First, learn what all our industry encompasses. Many students are only aware of planning weddings or festivals but there is so much more to the events industry than that. You can plan, you can sell, and you can execute. Learn about and pursue all the amazing things that the events industry encompasses. Secondly, get involved. Local organizations like PCMA and MPI are a way to find friends, mentors, and jobs. Professionals love to give time back to students, so get out and meet them, then take advantage of those connections and relationships to the fullest. Albert Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.”
Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2023, supported by PCMA Foundation and Experience Columbus, were recognized at PCMA Convening Leaders 2023, Jan. 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio.