After another year of disruption, members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2022 are proof positive that adaptability is a requisite skill for business events industry professionals. Pauline Cheong, CASE, DES, assistant sales manager at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, shares what new skills she learned during the pandemic.
What do you see as key to the industry’s recovery after this time of disruption?
In an increasingly O2O2O [Online-to-Offline-to-Online] world, we need to be forward-thinking and be proactive in rethinking new business models and development of skills. As event professionals, we must continue to innovate and constantly push the boundaries — pushing ourselves to not only excel in what we do, but to have the courage to try something new.
Collaborations are also very important, be it with our colleagues, clients, or industry peers. It is through such partnerships that we’re able to leverage each other’s collective strengths and shared experiences to drive better outcomes.
What has this time of disruption taught you about the industry — and yourself?
The pandemic brought many unprecedented changes to the business events industry. However, the industry has taught me the meaning of resilience. As an industry of people — for people by people — we saw how the industry was hit from the postponement of events to the shift and demands of virtual and hybrid meetings. Yet the industry has demonstrated how it was quick to adapt, innovate, and how we’ve emerged stronger together to overcome these challenging circumstances.
This is also a time for me to self-reflect and learn that it is possible for change to happen any time and to not fear leaping into the unknown. Through these trying times, I’ve discovered more about myself — I learned that I’m more resilient than I ever believed I was. I also took the opportunity to slow down my pace, listen to myself and understand what truly matters to me.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
We are a face-to-face industry. While nothing beats seeing face-to-face events come to life again, hybrid events will stick around as a result of the pandemic. However, the future of the meeting experience is increasingly omnichannel, empowering our communities and audiences in a 365/24/7 model where one can get content, learn, and network at any time and anywhere. We, as a community, are reimagining and rethinking different event designs that blend both the virtual and physical worlds in a compelling setting.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
I’ve been presented with numerous opportunities to upgrade my skillsets in the past two years. My DES certification and Certified Association Sales Executive (CASE) certification further widened my perspective of this dynamic and vibrant industry. I am also looking for ways to further advance myself through learning from industry veterans and engaging in peer-to-peer sharing. Together with my peers, I journeyed into the unknown of virtual and hybrid meetings, where none of us had gone pre-COVID. It was new and unchartered territory for me, but also very fulfilling.