We Never Fail

Convening Leaders reinforced our industry’s remarkable resilience — and our tremendous responsibility to spearhead economic and social recovery, writes PCMA President & CEO Sherrif Karamat.

Author: Sherrif Karamat       

Convening Leaders

Host Nikki Muller jokes with Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA, who appeared as a hologram on the Convening Leaders stage at the Global Broadcast Center powered by Singapore Tourism Board and Marina Bay Sands. (Syafiq AB photo)

Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat, CAE

It’s a wrap for Convening Leaders 2021. I’m writing this a week after our closing Main Stage speakers, Olympic Gold Medalists and activist couple Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, finished sharing insights from the kitchen table in their Seattle home. While their session concluded the live event, registrants will be able to access sessions on demand until March 15.

Like so many other business events during the pandemic, this year’s version of our annual conference was like none other in PCMA’s history. Thousands participated online while hundreds gathered safely at in-person events as part of our program — at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and throughout the U.S., hosted by our Official Network Partners.

I’m enormously proud of my team for designing and producing such an inspiring and content-rich event in partnership with virtual event platform JUNO. I’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants who valued their learning experience and the chance to connect with each other. Convening Leaders traditionally has been the first industry event to kick off the new year, and it was obvious in the active session chats that participants were thrilled to be reunited with their community and ready to prepare for the coming year, whatever it may bring.

For me, Convening Leaders this year demonstrated in a new way the resilience of the business event strategists and supplier partner professionals who make up our industry, and underscored the importance of the work that we do. The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the travel, hospitality, and DMO sectors that have supported business events and forced us all to improvise and innovate. I was more aware than ever of our incredible responsibility as an industry to help lead the economic recovery and fashion a post-recovery world that is more sustainable, equitable, and focused on social good than ever before.

That requires adopting a mindset in which we boldly try new things to bring about a better future without the fear of failure. In his Convening Leaders session, innovation expert Peter Hinssen alluded to this shift in thinking when he quoted the great leader and revolutionary Nelson Mandela: “I never fail. I either win or I learn.”

There were other quotes that resonated with me throughout our program. I took note of them so they can serve as guideposts as we navigate what will be another uncertain year. Here are a few:

  • Hinssen also quoted physicist Stephen Hawking: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
  • He added: “We will have to be bold on the vision and flexible on the details.”
  • In her session on race equity, Kaye Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., quoted from Martin Luther King Jr.: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

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