Is experience still the best education for the next generation of events professionals? (Part One)

It might seem at first glance that I’m proof of experience being the best teacher; I had not planned or studied for a career in the meetings and events industry. However, our options were rather limited in the past, whereas today, there is a range of courses and certifications available, such as the CMP or the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC).

These have helped not only to enhance knowledge transfer within the industry, but also to refocus the individual on long-term skill development and progression, which is why CWT has worked actively with GBTA to develop the curriculum for the SMMC certification. Over 40 of our staff globally have already been certified, and we will continue to help our employees develop 
this expertise.

We’re now beginning to see more recognition for the people behind successful events in the form of global industry awards, but we certainly should do more, not just to advertise the vast array of events, but also to raise awareness and interest in events management as a formal discipline.

While learning on the job will always be a critical component of events work due to the sheer dynamism and unpredictability involved, it is really a combination of sound theory and good practice that will give someone that extra edge and a potential fast-track to excellent performance.

The ideal event professional is someone who demonstrates academic rigour, intellectual curiosity, diligence, as well as a marked ability to think fast, multi-task, be flexible, and perform under pressure when things do not go according to plan. On-the-job experience, a successful track record and relevant certification are always an advantage, but those new to the industry can also build up their knowledge by attending industry exhibitions and gaining exposure via internships.

Steven Smith is senior director, Meetings and Events Asia-Pacific for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT)


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