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Food for Thought – Being Global, Being Strategic, Industry Professionalism

Originally published in Trade Show Executive, May 2016 Edition

“Going global”… what does this mean to your business and the exhibitions and events industry as a whole? In the past few years, IAEE has made great strides in reaching into new, global markets. As I mentioned in February’s column, the “I” in IAEE is not just another letter but a strategic vision we are constantly developing and honing. I am proud to say that while we have members in 51 countries, we continue to expand into many other regions.

This vision is, more often than not, easier said than done. For some time now, as part of our strategic plan, we’ve been actively increasing our global reach by nurturing new markets, establishing partnerships, and making and keeping long lasting connections that come from understanding each region’s unique business culture. A huge benefit I receive from my visits to other countries is the insight I gain into how our industry works in that part of the world, and how IAEE can address the needs of the professionals organizing exhibitions and events in their specific markets.

For example, this year IAEE opened an office in China to address the needs of this vital region. China currently boasts over 800 industry professionals who have earned their Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) designation. We also recently started producing a monthly Chinese newsletter in Mandarin with relevant and timely content specific to this region. These initiatives, as well as other collaborations with industry partners in China, have allowed us to gain much ground within this vibrant marketplace.

Another fast-growing region is India. At the end of March, we established a new IAEE Chapter and graduated our first class of CEMs from India. Even more impressive is that the 30 India graduates completed the full CEM Learning Program curriculum in six months – that is incredible! I find it inspiring and reassuring to see individuals with such passion and dedication not only improving their professional development, but also adding significant value to the global exhibitions arena. IAEE currently teaches the CEM program in 28 countries with more being added each year.

Which brings me to my point about the importance of industry professionalism and obtaining certifications and/or designations. As many of you can attest, the business of organizing exhibitions and events resembles a finely oiled machine consisting of many moving parts. Can you envision how utterly chaotic a trade show or meeting would be if you didn’t have people on the inside with the knowledge and skills to navigate negotiations, operations, marketing and the like? Certifications such as the CEM designation provide a solid foundation for industry professionals to build their skills, and the continuing education required by most programs ensures we stay on top of our ever-changing business environment.

Remember: the more you know, the better! Because the industry is going to keep moving, whether you keep up or not. Technology shifts at break-neck speed, and though it may feel to some as if it takes a herculean effort to stay on top of new trends, it behooves us to stay at the forefront of the latest developments. Young professionals will tell you that getting stuck in a “this is the way it has always been done” mode doesn’t get you very far. Take advantage of all the learning opportunities you can, and keeping your professional accreditations current is an excellent way to do that.

Get in on the global movement! Join me and your fellow exhibitions and events industry professionals from around the world on 8 June Global Exhibitions Day and for those in the U.S., Exhibitions Day, where we will celebrate the impact of our industry on an international scale.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

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