Yolanda Simmons Battle | PCMA Member Spotlight

Get to know PCMA Member Yolanda Simmons Battle, Associate Director, Meetings and Events, American Psychological Association

How has your career developed as a result of being a PCMA member? Highlight specific resources and benefits that have helped you achieve your goals.
Being a member of PCMA I have received education on learning best practices in our industry, tools to effective leadership, and not being afraid to take the risks with experience design and educational content. Using Project Spark has decreased my fear of AI, and it has increased my desire to learn more about Generative AI and how it is an important component to not just our industry, but our world. Being a member affords me the opportunity for exceptional networking and the ability to glean from other professionals and take that knowledge that I can put into everyday practice. Being bold and taking the opportunities for our community to be intentional as it relates to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.

Why would you tell others it’s important to be involved in PCMA?
I would tell other others it is important to be involved in PCMA, because PCMA is our tribe. When you have a question, when there is a concern, you are a part of a community that you can reach out to for help with resources, to offer suggestions and to be that listening ear. There are people in PCMA that is excited for another person’s success, growth and that feeling can carry you through your workday. There are many opportunities for continued growth, to receive knowledge and to share with others that are around you.

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, besides spending time with family and friends, I enjoy listening to House Music, (a Chicago staple) and reading.

What first led you to becoming involved with PCMA?
I became involved in PCMA over 25 years ago due to assisting with the logistics on a program and my former director suggested that I become a member of PCMA for more training and learn best practices with experienced meeting professionals. I will forever be grateful for suggestion, her push and her gesture

Can you share a little about why you think prioritizing mental health is important in the business events industry?
Having optimal mental health is important in every sector of the marketplace, and I feel it is very important in the business events industry because many business event professionals feel the stress of sourcing, planning, executing, and completing meetings and events. According to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net) and Meetings Today, April 2004 article, meeting planning appears in the top 15 of the stress tolerance scale, this is out of 873 jobs. The surge of in-person, hybrid and virtual events post the height of the pandemic contributes to the increase of reports of stress and anxiety. If an individual is not at their optimal self, it can affect their work, their productivity, their output and their collaboration. Our industry relies heavily on data, the budget, and the attendee experience. If stress and anxiety levels are high, it can create a block for us being able to be our best selves and execute these tasks in the most efficient manner. Pushing ourselves to the brink of burnout is not healthy and it is not sustainable. Increased levels of stress and anxiety affects the body. It can show up as a migraine, stomachache, cramps, vision concerns, aches and pains, negative moods, and a myriad of other physical ailments. Prioritizing our mental health is not just important personally, but it is also important collectively as a business events industry community. When we each take a moment to step back and focus on ourselves, this can put us in a position to better support one another and it can help to solidify the relationship building so we can continue to produce wonderful meetings & events.

Do you have any pointers/advice you would like to share with the community to help prioritize their mental health?
First, I believe it is important to acknowledge if something doesn’t feel right, it is ok, no shame in saying, “today is not a good day”. Schedule time to step away from work throughout the day. Mental breaks are necessary to allow the mind and body to rest and to restart the fuel. Get up from the desk and stretch, go for a walk. Close your eyes and practice some mindfulness and meditation. Set the time that you will end your workday. Whether you work remote or in an office, it is important to have that transition from work life to personal life. Celebrate the wins and acknowledge the opportunities for improvement and don’t reside in either bucket for too long, replaying “what I could have done differently?”  And it is OK to reach out to someone you trust to talk through what you may be feeling. And if life seems like it is a little too heavy, having a trained professional, like a therapist, counselor, clinical psychologist, social worker, etc. is always appropriate. Take your time to find the one where you both connect. Therapy is a journey, not a sprint.  Having prioritized our mental health is having overall optimal physical health.

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