Sign up for our newswire newsletter


IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum Prepares Incoming Professionals for Career Success

IMEX Frankfurt 2022 Future Leaders Forum

Choosing a career path is hard enough as it is, and for Gen Zers—the oldest of which entered a workforce in a full pandemic shutdown—the choice only became more difficult. Without real-life experience in their chosen industries and the increase in remote work, understanding what a career in their field of interest may look like became a bigger obstacle than it used to be. 

IMEX Group seeks to turn that obstacle into opportunities.  

“We’ve worked with a fantastic group of global experts over the years--what unites them is that they all recognize the need to engage and excite the next generation of event profs,” said Hannah Lee, knowledge and events senior executive at IMEX Group. “Obviously during the pandemic, our industry, like many, took a real bashing and has since gone through a lot of changes. That makes it all the more important for seasoned event profs to champion the industry and advocate for it as a really rewarding place to work.” 

IMEX Frankfurt 2022 Future Leaders Forum
IMEX Frankfurt 2022 Future Leaders Forum

Lee graduated from the University of Brighton in 2016 with a degree in international event management and now manages the global IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum programs, which aim to provide a platform on which seasoned event professionals can advocate for their industry.

IMEX Group, in partnership with MPI and MCI, launched the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum in 2003. Since then, the forum has served as a global program for students considering a career in the business events industry and provides them with real-life, up-to-the minute information and guidance about the events sector. 

“We have reached the point where we can look around the global events industry and see former Future Leaders who’ve really excelled,” Lee said. “They include Kryzsztof Celuch, event experiences professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Warsaw and Miguel Neves, editor in chief of Skift Meetings—just two examples among hundreds.” 

The Future Leaders Forum is aimed predominantly at students in the final year of their studies, but IMEX Group has previously welcomed students in their first and second years, and even recent graduates. At IMEX Frankfurt 2023, Naomi Hollas, founder of Event Grads and a recent graduate herself, will moderate the Future Leaders Forum.  

[Related: Naomi Hollas Shares Her Steps to Success in the Events Industry]

“As event organizers, we know the power of meeting face to face and have designed the Forum to bring together students in the same room as some of the industry’s top professionals,” Lee said. “Meeting these movers and shakers IRL [in real life] is an opportunity to really scratch beneath the surface of the industry and hear open, trusted, first-hand experiences.” 

The forum also helps students meet others in the same position, creating a community of future event professionals from all around the world who can share advice and build a ready-made group of peers to kickstart their career.  

Hannah Lee, Knowledge and Events Senior Executive at IMEX
Hannah Lee, Knowledge and Events Senior Executive at IMEX

Topics of discussion covered in the Future Leaders Forum learning sessions are highly practical and designed to guide students on making the transition from student to event professional, often a difficult transition to make and one that has become increasingly more difficult in recent years.  

“Education varies each year in response to the current challenges—relevance is the watchword here,” Lee said. 

Past Future Leaders Forum topics have discussed sustainability, the importance of building community, insights into different roles within the industry, the importance of failure and learning from it, and building your own personal brand. The forum also aims to give industry insights from experts who “lift the lid on their career journeys to date” and share anecdotes, suggestions or tips that made a difference in their own careers.  

“Being in the same room with accomplished event professionals openly sharing successes, challenges and failures can be really inspirational,” Lee said. “The aim is to help students understand the direction they want to take or even for them to spot a gap in the market for their own skills and experiences.” 

One piece of advice Lee has to share with future event leaders and students interested in the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum is to be open to opportunities, “because you never know when they’ll pop up!” 

[Related: On the Scene: Experiencing IMEX America as a First-Time Attendee]

“If you have exceptional skills in creativity, writing or social media, then your route into events might be via a marketing role, for instance,” she said. “If you’re a coder or developer, then event tech could be a good space to consider.” 

The key to appealing to all Future Leaders Forum attendees lies in ensuring there’s a broad range of industry experts for students to meet from across different sectors of the industry and at different stages of their careers.  

“We feel this is the best way to provide the full picture of the breadth and depth of our sector and perhaps even to spark an idea or two on which specific area students might like to work in,” Lee said. 

For example, Lee highlighted how one of the big attractions of working in meetings and events is the opportunity to travel and learn about different cultures. Frequently, the Future Leaders Forum will highlight industry experts sharing their stories about the places they’ve seen and experiences they’ve had.  

“These can be the moments that really capture our student’s imaginations and fire them up,” Lee said. “The tendrils of this industry reach all over the world and, since Covid, it’s even now possible to represent a company based in the Midwest all the way from your work-at-home desk in England! The old barriers don’t apply like they used to.”


IMEX Group

Read this next: The Z: Using Social Media to Attract a Gen Z Audience

Profile picture for user Taylor Smith
About the author
Taylor Smith | Content Developer, Destinations and Features

Taylor Smith joined Stamats in May 2022 as a content developer, destinations and features for Meetings Today. Smith has experience covering everything from travel to breaking news and graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in news and magazine journalism. Previously, she’s written for St. Louis Magazine and worked as an editorial assistant and apprentice for Aubree Nichols, who has been published in premier publications such as The New York TimesELLE and The Los Angeles Times.