From the Chair: Michael Firman - 24 November 2021

This week newly elected Chair of the MEA Board, Michael Firman of Harry the hirer, addressed the MEA readership in his first #MEAExpress article. Michael reflected on his journey to a career in events, and spoke on MEA's role in the times ahead as our industry looks to rebuilding. 

Michael Firman 
MEA Chair 

Being elected as Chair of the MEA Board yesterday is a great privilege and honour, but also incredibly humbling when you consider the industry leaders that have come before me, the hard working luminaires of our industry who have served as mentors and inspirational leaders. It is a role that comes with a great responsibility, but how did I get here?

It’s not often you get to reflect on your journey through life that brought you to this place in time. Reflection is important particularly in times of a global reset moment such that COVID has brought us. Reflection enables us to learn from the mistakes of the past, celebrate achievements and to decide which elements of your life you want to take with you on the next phase of your journey.

My journey to a career in events began like many before me with a need to earn money to save up for my dream of travel. Back then, jobs in hospitality were a means to an end. I don’t ever recall having chosen to be in the events industry, rather in a way, the events industry chose me.

I attended my very first MEA event 20 years ago when I had transitioned from an audio visual technician into a sales role. Meeting new people became ‘networking’, and being nice to clients became ‘client relationships’. I was introduced to industry leaders and professional gurus, but many were just like me – hungry to learn, full of energy, ready to take on the world but not knowing how. Attending MEA events was exciting, entertaining and eventful. It gave me a chance to meet like-minded people with the same passions and curiosity, from whom I could learn from and share experiences with; together we created our own MEA folklore and had lots of fun doing it.

The global pandemic has forced the world to stop, reflect, and consider what is important to each and every one of us. What is important are the connections we share that provide a sense of identity, of who we are and how we contribute in our community. It is in the journey we take that we can become better versions of ourselves because, along the way, we learn new skills, we meet new people with fresh ideas and we are constantly challenged. We even make mistakes and errors of judgement through which one learns life-long lessons.

As I reflect on what MEA means to me, MEA is the coach, the connector, the cheerleader; it is a community of industry leaders and like-minded individuals with shared experiences, challenges and aspirations.

A leader is meant to motivate a team to get the best out of themselves, to make them feel secure, to help set the direction and provide support, influence ideas and share experiences. But the true meaning of a leader is about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It's about equipping others with the right tools and strategies not only to maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals. It is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a shared endeavor.

In Nigel Collin’s last post as Chair, he described MEA’s role to support growth in the careers of our members and advance the events industry by helping our members create opportunities, by providing the right education and training to upskill and cross skill, and in connecting with each other. By this very definition, MEA is a leader.

But more than this, MEA is a family of members who all live, learn, work, play and celebrate together in the events community the good times and the suffering of tough times, but ultimately we are in it together.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nigel Collin for his leadership of the MEA Board over the past 12 months. His guidance, mentorship and openness to learn has guided MEA through one of the most challenging periods for our industry. While COVID has fractured our family and challenged the commitment to our community, Nigel has reminded us that we built this industry, it is our legacy and only we can rebuild it. As the caretakers of MEA it is an honor to represent our community on the Board and continue the pursuit of MEA as mentor, educator and connector for our members and the meetings and events industry as a whole. 

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Watersedge at Campbell’s Stores, NSW
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13 Dec
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