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All for One and One for All

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois shares the value industry associations have brought to his career and the benefits of being a member.


Editorial Note: Originally published in the September 2023 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

As I pen my final “Perspectives” column as IAEE President and CEO, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the role associations have played in my life. I’ve spent the majority of my career serving industry organizations dedicated to promoting the value and importance of exhibitions and events. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I could not have done it without the benefits gained through my affiliation with industry associations; benefits that have acted as the cornerstones of my professional development.

One of my favorite advantages has been the networking opportunities industry associations afford. I’ve said time and time again that the line between my professional relationships and close personal friendships is fairly blurred at this point, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The support we receive from fellow colleagues through collaborations and mentorship is irreplaceable in our personal and professional growth.

We all know that careers are built on the shoulders of those who teach and motivate us to excel along the way. While individual talent has its merits – and there is certainly plenty of it among us – remarkable leaders easily recount those who opened doors and paved paths for them to achieve their success. The beauty of associations is that they offer a cornucopia of industry champions ready and willing to work together toward a brighter future. It benefits those new to the industry as well as those who have devoted decades to its greater good. It just makes sense to join a winning team and, quite frankly, it feels good! And that is exactly what associations are: a collectively winning team.

Another valuable purpose associations serve is one that supports their very essence, which is to provide the resources needed for their members’ professional growth. Industry trends and advancements move quickly, especially in today’s tech-forward environment. The need to remain relevant is more important than ever, and today’s professionals are behooved to keep up. Whether you are at the front end of your career or an executive leader, there is no finish line to cross when it comes to technology. The advent of AI and other impactful innovations have changed the blueprint forever, which is where the benefit of belonging to a community of like-minded peers significantly pays off.

Finally, the power of advocacy on behalf of our industry that associations wield is unlike any other. I am extremely proud of the momentum we have gained with U.S. legislative leaders through the efforts of the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance. The collaboration among the industry’s associations to garner government-backed funds during the pandemic was imperative as we faced our most difficult challenge to date. Members have expressed to me what IAEE’s support meant to them during their darkest hours as they grappled with fear and uncertainty. Knowing someone has your back is reassuring, and associations “live” for having their members’ backs.

My final call to action to executive leaders via this column is to actively engage with our industry’s associations as well as empower your team members to do the same. I highly encourage everyone to take the time to volunteer and contribute to the incredible work industry associations do. It feels amazing to see your support directly reflected in the success of your industry. Even more so when you are able to share that success with your peers.

I look forward to continuing my allegiance to our industry, as the CEO and President of the Exhibitor Group, and connecting with all of you at future industry events.

David DuBois, CMP Fellow, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO
Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Co-President


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