Miranda Connon, CMP, DES, is meetings manager for the Montreal-based Société Internationale d’Urologie (SIU), which has been an aggressive entrant into the world of digital events. The organization’s SIU Academy is a standard-setting e-learning portal that offers videos, webcasts, livestreamed surgical procedures, and more, while its annual Congress is a hybrid meeting with dozens of hours of livestreamed content. Connon isn’t directly responsible for either program, but nonetheless felt it was important to get the Digital Event Strategist (DES) certification from PCMA’s Digital Experience Institute.
Which did you get first — your CMP or your DES?
I got the CMP first. It’s something that was in the back of my mind for years and years. I started in the industry in 1999 [working for a PCO]. It was never the right time. I had young kids and I didn’t feel that I could really devote the time to the studying. But working for an association — for [SIU] — was very different than being a PCO. It kind of reinvigorated my love of the industry. It just felt like it was the right time. My kids are now a little bit older, and I knew that I could devote the time to getting such a huge certification like the CMP.
At what point did you decide that you also wanted to get your DES?
After I got my CMP, I was honestly very proud of myself. I love learning. I happened to be on the PCMA website and I saw the DES certification. Digital events are truly the future of our industry. They’ll never take away the need for people to meet face-to-face, but at the SIU, digital events have really helped us reach an audience who would never be able to attend our meetings. There was this huge void for a long time where we’d wonder, “How do we reach these people?” I saw the DES certification, and I realized technology has finally caught up with us. As meetings manager, I felt since our meeting is a hybrid meeting, it’s of the utmost importance to really understand everything that’s happen-ing under the Congress umbrella.
Did you find the DES education program useful?
I thought it was great. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship from Meetings + Conventions Calgary to do the DES course. To be honest, I’m a bit of an introvert, or a lot of an introvert, and there are two options for the course: There’s a self-paced [version], where everything is on demand and you do it when you want; or there’s the online course, where it’s [live] Wednesdays and Fridays every week for an hour. I was definitely lean-ing toward doing the self-paced version, but because I won the scholarship, part of that was that I had to attend the actual online courses twice a week. I went into it with a lot of hesitation, but I am so glad that I took the live online course. Having all of my peers there and that networking really made a huge difference.
Have you applied what you learned to your job at SIU?
Our Congress is a hybrid meeting — the digital event is called SIU@U. I’m not really involved in the hands-on daily planning of the livestreaming. But as it is part of the Congress and I’m the meetings manager, I thought it was important to really understand the ins and the outs of digital events. I can participate in our meetings here for SIU@U and not only fully understand what’s being discussed, but I can give valuable input that I never would’ve been able to do without the certification.