Meeting Professionals International is the largest meeting and event industry association worldwide. Founded in 1972, the organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals including more than 17,000 engaged members and its Plan Your Meetings audience. It has more than 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries.
Kristi Casey Sanders, CMM, DES, HMCC, the Director of the MPI Academy, oversaw the creation of the new certificate course, Women in Leadership: Executive Leadership Skills. Sanders, a great executive leader herself, is responsible for educating, empowering and inspiring the world’s largest association of meeting and event professionals. Prior to joining the MPI team, she spent 13 years designing event experiences, building digital communication platforms and directing the creative, marketing, editorial and educational teams at Plan Your Meetings, which is now part of the MPI family. She became familiar with the events industry as a cast member of Amsterdam’s Boom Chicago Comedy Theatre, where she performed improv/sketch comedy at corporate shows throughout The Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland and conducted corporate training workshops to teach multinational groups soft skills.
Why did MPI create this program?
Our membership and the industry as a whole is 80% female, but industry leadership positions are 80% male. Clearly there’s a disconnect.
Women comprise more than half of the US workforce, but predominantly serve in entry-level positions. Somewhere around the manager level, women start showing up less frequently. As you move closer to the C-suite, the number of women falls proportionately.
There have always been panels at industry events that address this topic, but we didn’t see any education that investigated the data and helped women understand what might be holding them back and how to deal with it in a proactive, effective way.
That’s why MPI partnered with Starwood, now Marriott, to develop Women in Leadership. The Executive Leadership Skills certificate course is the first in what we envision to be an educational series focused on diversity and leadership topics.
What’s the vision?
Researching this program, I discovered that women are more likely to go into a situation like a salary negotiation with a minimum acceptable range in their head. Studies show that if you look at who benefits most from negotiations, it’s not the person who’s happy with a minimum acceptable range, it’s the person who shoots for the maximum available amount. They may not get everything they asked for, and they may have to dance around to get to the final number, but they’ll walk out of the room with more.
So taking that idea of asking for more to heart, I felt like this first Women in Leadership course should focus on Executive Leadership Skills. Not everyone in the room may aspire to be a CEO, CFO, CMO or COO. But if we equip them with the mindset and the perspective that will help them get there, then they’ll end up achieving more than if they’re settling for some minimum acceptable idea of what they want to do with their lives.
What will they get out of it?
The first thing participants will get out of it is the data behind the anecdotes. We want to pull the emotion out of it and look at the facts.
The second thing participants will gain (and notice I’m not saying women because men can benefit too) is an objective assessment of what their true strengths are and time to reflect on what might be holding them back.
The third benefit is time to work 1:1 with a mentor to talk through a 5-year action plan. That way everyone walks out with some steps they are committing to take and a network of people who can support them on this journey.
Calanit Atia is founder and president of A to Z Events, Las Vegas Premier Destination Management Company and Nationwide Talent Agency. Calanit is an award winning event planner, Las Vegas ambassador, social media maven, columnist, Air Force veteran and speaker. She can be contacted at Twitter: @CalanitAtia, Info@AtoZevents.com, http://www.facebook.com/calanit, http://www.linkedin.com/in/calanit and https://www.instagram.com/calanitatia.