Engaging Our Community: Your Voice Matters at MEA

By Chair, Vanessa Green

Dear Members,

Reflecting on the success of the Evolve Conference 2024, I am filled with pride and optimism for our industry. Held in the picturesque Hunter Valley, this year's conference was not just a platform for learning but also a celebration of our community's resilience and creativity. The theme "Lead with Impact. Empower to Grow. Connect for Success" encapsulated the essence of our discussions and set a clear direction for the future.

Leadership and Empowerment: Foundations of Success

Rowdy McLean’s keynote, "Play a Bigger Game," set a powerful tone for the conference. McLean, a seasoned leadership expert, delved deep into the core of self-leadership, emphasising that true leadership begins with self-awareness and self-motivation. He highlighted four key elements essential for effective leadership: control, influence, confidence, and resilience.

McLean shared practical strategies that attendees could implement immediately. He discussed the importance of setting personal and professional goals and staying accountable. “Successful people are self-motivated, self-driven, and self-aware,” he stated, urging leaders to continuously reflect on their actions and outcomes. One of the most impactful parts of his talk was his emphasis on resilience. McLean recounted his own experiences of overcoming adversity, illustrating that resilience is not about avoiding failure but learning and growing from it. Reading through our attendee survey on this session, I can see I was not the only one struck by Rowdy’s remarks on accountability with one attendee saying, “Rowdy’s session was a wake-up call. His advice on resilience and personal accountability has given me a new perspective on leadership.”


Embracing Technology: Staying Ahead of the Curve

Izzy Hettiarachchi’s session, "Global Event Trends Unveiled," provided an insightful exploration of how technological advancements are reshaping the events industry. Hettiarachchi, a recognised expert in event technology, discussed the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics on event planning and execution. He highlighted how AI can enhance attendee experiences through personalised recommendations and real-time feedback.

A particularly engaging part of Izzy’s presentation was the discussion on the integration of virtual and hybrid event models. Hettiarachchi explained how these models are not just a response to the pandemic but a long-term trend that offers greater accessibility and inclusivity. He also touched on sustainability, showing how technology can reduce the environmental footprint of events. For instance, using digital tickets and virtual swag bags can significantly cut down on waste. An attendee noted, “The session was eye-opening. Understanding how to leverage AI and hybrid models is crucial for staying competitive in the industry.”


Collaboration and Innovation: Driving Forward Together

The interactive session "Collaborate to Thrive" led by Norm Pounder from Be Challenged was a standout, highlighting the critical role of teamwork in fostering innovation. Pounder facilitated a fantastic activity designed to break down silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration. The session involved a very hands-on project (painting!) where participants worked together to solve complex problems, demonstrating the value of varied perspectives. It was not long before the whole room was connecting and working together to create a unified MEA masterpiece!

This activity not only fostered creativity but also highlighted the importance of effective communication and mutual support. A participant shared, “Norm’s session was not only fun but also a powerful reminder of how collaboration can spark innovative solutions. It was a great way to start the conference.” It certainly was and thanks to the aprons no clothing disasters occurred, and we have an incredible MEA memento of the conference.


The Impact of Global Events: Shaping Our Future

The panel discussion on "The Power of Global Events in Australia," moderated by Thomas Staunton, brought together industry leaders like PJ Gahan, Sarah Quinn, and Brooke Reid. This session provided a deep dive into the cultural, social, and economic impacts of major global events. Gahan discussed the economic benefits of hosting international events, citing examples of increased tourism and job creation. Quinn highlighted the social impact, sharing how events like the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras foster community engagement and inclusivity.

Reid focused on the cultural exchange facilitated by global events, illustrating how they bring diverse cultures together and enrich local communities. The panel underscored the importance of strategic planning and community involvement in maximising the benefits of global events.


Looking Forward: Your Ideas and Feedback

As we look ahead, I am eager to build on the momentum from Evolve 2024. During the "Moment with MEA" session, we asked for your thoughts on how we can better support you and the industry. It was great to hear your questions and suggestions and it’s important we keep an open dialogue going and work together to support members and the industry.  There was a request to host a Western Australia members event, which we plan to organise in the coming months.

MEA is your association, and your active involvement is crucial for our collective growth. Whether through participating in committees, attending webinars, or engaging in our mentoring programme, your contributions make a significant difference. If you are interested in getting involved or have ideas on how we can enhance our services, please reach out to the MEA office,  me or any of the board members. Your input is invaluable, and I encourage you to share more ideas and feedback.

By continuing to collaborate and innovate, we can drive the events industry forward. Let's keep the conversation going, share our ideas, and support each other in our professional journeys. Here's to growing and thriving together.

Please contact me anytime to discuss how we can best do that, at vanessa.green@cliftons.com

Best regards,

Vanessa Green 

Chair, Meetings & Events Australia