Evolve 2024: A Journey of Resilience, Growth, and Connection in the Events Industry

By Director, Emma McDowell

As we prepare for the highly anticipated Evolve 2024, a one-of-a-kind event that seamlessly blends professional growth, networking, and celebration, I am filled with a mix of excitement and nostalgia. This event, which holds a special place in my heart, marks 14 incredible years in the events industry. It's truly remarkable to have an event like Evolve 2024 that I eagerly anticipate year after year.

My journey with Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) began over a decade ago, and each conference has been a transformative experience that has significantly contributed to my professional growth. I vividly remember my first MEA conference, a mix of nerves and excitement as I flew to the Gold Coast, unaware that this would mark the start of a lifelong adventure. Nanette Broadbent, who arranged my flight & ticket, said, 'MEA is where everything happens.' I packed my bag and arrived the night before, and she was right! Since that first event, MEA conferences have been a treasure trove of inspiration, learning, and invaluable networking opportunities. The insights shared by industry leaders and the connections forged with peers have been instrumental in shaping my career, fueling my passion, and creating lasting memories.

One of my fondest memories is looking around at everyone on the dance floor, seeing genuine happiness, people singing, and celebrating each other's successes. I've returned to my role each year with a renewed purpose.

MEA conferences have consistently offered unparalleled opportunities for growth and networking. The insights gained and the connections made have continually empowered me to elevate my work. Last year, Mike Firman eloquently spoke about the power of connecting. In a world where digital interactions often dominate, meeting peers, mentors, and industry leaders in person is profoundly impactful. It's in these face-to-face moments that real bonds are formed, ideas are ignited, and collaborations are born. The vibrant energy, the infectious laughter, the shared experiences – these are the elements that etch MEA conferences into our memories.

The return to the Hunter Valley signifies a new chapter, a testament to our industry's resilience and ability to bounce back. The region's breathtaking beauty and exceptional event facilities make it the perfect backdrop for this significant comeback. I am genuinely excited about the opportunity to enjoy the area's renowned wines. Mount Mary is a standout vineyard I hope to get to!

Peter McDonald, CEO of MEA, perfectly captured this sentiment: "There are people in the industry workforce who weren't even born the last time we were there. It's a long overdue return." Well said Peter!

Evolve 2024 is more than just a conference; it celebrates our industry's resilience and growth. I look forward to reuniting with you all and learning from the best. See you in the Hunter Valley – where the past meets the future, and our shared passion for events will shine brighter than ever!