EIC’s Amy Calvert on the Talent Pipeline and a Revamped CMP

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry faces a challenge attracting the next generation of talent. In fact, it’s a major topic of discussion among its leaders. In this Meetings Today Podcast, recorded at PCMA’s Convening Leaders, EIC CEO Amy Calvert tackles the subject of the hospitality industry talent pipeline, as well as a major revamp of the EIC’s CMP program.

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Tyler Davidson: Hello, and welcome to this Meetings Today Podcast. I'm Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director for Meetings Today, and we are at PCMA Convening Leaders in Las Vegas, at CAESARS FORUM, and have one of the biggest leaders of the meetings and events industry, Amy Calvert, CEO of the Events Industry Council. Thanks for joining us, Amy.

Amy Calvert: Thank you, Tyler. Thank you for the kind words. It's awesome to be here with you and to be able to spend some time with those people that we know and love in our industry.

Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council.
Amy Calvert

Tyler: Truly. It always kind of recharges my batteries when I come to one of these things, and, you know, one of the things I really wanted to talk to you about is the kind of the leadership, or the talent, pipeline, in the meetings and events industry. It's really a huge topic everyone is talking about--who's going to do our jobs in 20 years when we're not here? 

And how do we communicate the exciting nature of this industry to maybe someone who's 20 years old, and has maybe gone through the pandemic and seen what has happened to the hospitality industry? So, I know that's a lot to chew on, but what do you think about that? How are the people in this industry talking about on this issue, and what is EIC doing?

Amy: Well, it's such an important topic. I probably think, from my perspective, it's the most important thing that we need to be focused on right now. 

How do we inspire the individuals, the talent currently in our industry, to stay and continue their journeys? How do we inspire those people that are currently studying, whether it's post-secondary, or gaining certificates, to think about what does it mean to be part of an industry that's sort of this meta industry that touches all others? And one of the things that I think is really important is that we continue this focus, and focus on equity and some of the learnings over the past two years, and as I was saying earlier, we've had some challenges prior to the pandemic, in leading and developing our workforce. 

I think we have got to spend some time really thinking about how do we ultimately evolve the narrative about what it means to be in our industry to focus more on the why and the impact of events as much as we've focused on the actual operational elements of hosting successful events, because ultimately, I think that is what's going to inspire the new individuals that are thinking about the events industry as a potential career path, and really being an industry in a sector that's known for having the ability to drive transformational societal change as well as educate professionals in all sectors throughout the globe. 

So, I think that the future has--there's so much potential Tyler--and so we shouldn't get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. I think we know, inherently, that what we do matters, that this is a rich industry that provides tremendous, diverse career pathways for individuals that I think can really, ultimately lead to a very meaningful career.

Tyler: And I know I sort of got into this industry, like a lot of people did, by chance, 30 years ago. And I'm a true believer, I love the people in it, I love how it can affect change. I love that the job is different every day. How do you communicate that to someone who's young and say, "I want to go work for Google and pull down six figures right out of college?"

Amy: Yeah, well, I think, you know, just like any other sector, we're an industry that is evolving, and will always be looking for people that are practitioners in different areas of business focus, right? So, whether that's strategic planning or technology or data science, there is really a place for all the areas of interest and focus. 

So, I think we have to, again, just sort of go back to talking about what we do and the disciplines within what we do, and in a wholly different way, right? And I think that's one of the things that we're focused on in terms of the CMP program, right? And going through a revamp of that program right now—a competency profile project and job task analysis—and really looking at that body of knowledge and those competencies in those; those areas of discipline and focus, to inspire those individuals that are potentially looking at a career with a large technology firm to say, "Hey, you know, you can apply your skills, passion and talent in the events industry with that same focus in a wholly different, and perhaps more rewarding, way." 

I think at the end of the day events themselves are accelerators for various sectors. So, I think there are obviously individuals that we can welcome from non-traditional events with educational tracks, with a specific focus on sectors, you know, such as technology.

Tyler: And then, of course, I've spoken to you before about your Equity Acceleration Plan, and that's really one of the key elements of ensuring the future diversity and talent in the meetings industry. Can you tell our listeners more about that, and perhaps how they can participate in that?

Amy: Absolutely. EIC, about a year ago, started this journey on really trying to build an Equity Acceleration Plan for the industry, and really focusing in on four key areas of focus. We're looking at meaningful career pathways, developing leadership, and leadership pipelines for individuals within our sector, looking at organizational frameworks, and then creating actually welcoming environments.

What we realize, Tyler, is that our organization, an organization that focuses on advocacy, research, professional standards and professional recognition programs on behalf of our members in the industry, is in a very unique position to help be an accelerator of change in the area of equity on behalf of all of our members, but also the different communities that we serve. And what we're trying to say is that we recognize that many organizations have been doing great work in the area of equity for a very long time, but we haven't really been honest with ourselves about the impact that those resources are having. 

So, we're trying to essentially reflect, take a step back, and then move forward, and we're starting with this benchmarking study. The benchmarking study is really meant to speak to the individual, allowing the individual an opportunity, in a confidential and anonymous manner, to tell us how they're feeling about the state of equity in the events industry, the global business events industry, right now, so we can get a sense of where are we honestly, what are the priorities in terms of developing tools and resources that don't currently exist, and better leveraging those that do to help drive change.

I think one of the things that we have to be honest with ourselves about is that we won't know our impact until we have a very open and transparent way of measuring our progress and holding ourselves accountable over time. So, this group is meant to stay together over a three-year period, and is really looking at equity, across the board, all sectors, all global regions.

It'll be really interesting to see the output of this first benchmarking study. But what will be really inspiring and important, and I think people will find very motivational, is that we can have a platform in place to measure our progress and change and adapt over time. 

To your point about workforce, I think we as a sector having to, again, redefine how we talk about what we do; it's what we do, but why what we do matters, right? The why behind the purpose of events, and have a culture as an industry, as a sector that really lives our values. And really, I think this issue around equity is foundational to all other areas of sustainability and social impact. 

So, you know, I'm really just so pleased to be working with this incredible taskforce, and, of course, the support of our members and partners to do this really important work, and really create a place for everybody to sort of contribute and help move us forward. We really do believe in our ability to create this accelerated plan and to see tangible results.

Tyler: And where can people find out more information about that?

Amy: They can go to our EIC website, www.eventscouncil.org, and there is the survey link itself there. So, hopefully, people will be inspired and motivated to complete the survey. We're using an AI platform, so it's fairly easy to do, but it does take some thought, but I think it's important for everybody to set aside a little time to think about how we are feeling and what is the important work that needs to be done.

Tyler: Well, great. Well, thanks for joining us, Amy.

Amy: Oh my gosh, Tyler, it's great to be with you. Thank you so much for the great work that you do to support our sector and I'm looking forward to all good things in '22.

Tyler: Excellent. And likewise. That was Amy Calvert, CEO of the Events Industry Council. I'm Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director for Meetings Today. Thanks for joining us for this Meetings Today Podcast. If you're interested in more of our podcasts with industry thought leaders, head on over to MeetingsToday.com and check out our podcast section. 

So, signing off from PCMA Convening Leaders, and wherever you're at, have a great rest of the day. Thank you.

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Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.