There is a certain glamorous appeal that no doubt attracts many to the MICE industry. We see an increasing interest through the growing number of résumés we receive on a daily basis. But there are many challenges to finding the right talent, and a misperception of what an event organising career involves. Often at career fairs, potential applicants tell me they are looking for an opportunity to travel and see the world. Most are distinctly underwhelmed when the harsh realities of the day-to-day role are explained.
At entry level, besides being a team player, we look for people who understand the importance of cultural sensitivity, have strong initiative, an ability to work under pressure and high energy levels. A university degree in a MICE-related programme does provide an academic insight into the industry at large. However, to develop the business acumen and technical expertise required takes years of hands-on experience in different roles and at various levels, in order to attain the status of a sought-after event planner. The attrition rate is higher in the initial 2 to 3 years as the reality and hardships of the job set in.
In Singapore and Hong Kong, the labour market is already tight with unemployment rates hovering between 2-3 per cent. High staff turnover and salary demands drive organisations to be creative in their staff retention programmes. For markets like China, the ability to speak and understand English is a key factor to being a successful international meeting and event planner.
At MCI, we engage our staff at various levels to support and develop their career dreams. In the local offices, the culture of sharing and collaborative leadership is strong. We have regional roles to reinforce consistent delivery and sharing of best practices. Globally, the MCI Institute provides a platform of learning opportunities through e-learning as well as face-to-face training academies in the various regions. We strive to provide an environment that is challenging, multicultural and respectful and most importantly, offers our staff personal and professional development.
After all, we believe that when people come together, magic happens.
Jacqueline Choy is the director of HR at MCI Asia-Pacific