According to AIPC, “the Future Shapers program supports the development of high performers within the AIPC community to think and act like leaders, and the participants will be senior managers with proven leadership skills who are looking for a learning opportunity with practical outcomes.” To give you a better idea of the program in practice, here is a Q&A with participator Stephanie Martin, Head of Sales, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), on her practical experience with the program.

What is the Future Shapers program and why were you selected to take part?

The AIPC Future Shapers program is designed for senior leaders with over seven years of experience in convention centre management. I was fortunate to be asked to apply whilst on maternity leave in 2021, with the intent to bring my learnings back to the business when I returned from maternity leave in February 2022.

For nine months, 14 senior leaders of the AIPC community and industry went through an intensive leadership program that is intended to accelerate the leadership skills of the participants and ultimately pitch ideas that help design and solve some of our industry’s challenges.

The program was delivered in three overlapping phases:

  • Phase 1 – Lecture series
    A lecture series and in-depth self-evaluation and development workshops with leaders from within, and aligned to, our industry.
  • Phase 2 – Mentoring
    The participants were matched with mentors who are CEOs of the AIPC membership.
  • Phase 3 – The Industry Challenge
    Future Shapers were split into two teams to workshop business solution ideation, business case development and project implementation planning. This work then concluded with both teams pitching their ideas at the AIPC conference as part of the challenge.

Through the program, we have been able to connect with some incredible people that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to connect with without this program. The network and connections we now share will be lifelong, and I know that together we will keep advocating for our industry and ensure we continue to create strong career pathways for our people.

What are three things that you have learnt about yourself during the Future Shapers program?

Diversity and cross-functional teams are key. Diverse thought and leadership lead to great things. To quote Cathy O’Dowd, one of our incredible speakers, “You need a small group of people who have a huge vision.” I really feel the inaugural Future Shapers cohort really embodied this given our varied experience, navigating through timezones and our day jobs.

Secondly, listening to our people and customers continues to be king. We carry a great responsibility in ensuring our customers are able to continue to meet and achieve their desired event outcomes which so often are tied to legacy, sustainability and of course revenue-generating activities to support our business and theirs in their continued operations.

In terms of our people, events have returned much quicker than expected and we have all had to continue to monitor and measure the health and well-being of our people. We also know that so many have left our industry and we need to continue coming together to ensure our career paths remain attractive and desirable to current and future generations.

Tell us what you pitched as your idea to help benefit the AIPC community?

I would love to. Here is a little teaser from our pitch at the AIPC conference recently:

For 35 years there have been a number of event core systems available to convention centres however there has not been a single disrupter to take the industry to the next level with a greater ability to connect, collaborate and provide customers with self-service tools. We all deserve …

  • One platform that provides an integrated turnkey solution for all events.
  • One centralized platform for all information and real-time communication and collaboration.
  • Your teams deserve efficiency.
  • Your customers deserve to be able to self service and stay connected.
  • Everyone deserves EventShaper.

EventShaper is a collaboration and event management platform and client portal, built by venue experts for event management professionals. It provides integrated, end-to-end services including booking, communication, event design and account management planning tools using real-time data, so that you and your clients can stay informed, organised and connected — all in one place.”

The benefits of EventShaper to convention centres are: 

  • Reduced costs for multiple licensing.
  • Increased revenue through effective yield management.
  • The ability to scale up by adding services such as registration, hotel accommodation or virtual events.
  • CRM automation.

EventShaper will unite the industry by elevating the customer experience through best practice tools. It’s time to be part of the change. If you’d like to hear more about the EventShaper journey and the next steps please feel free to reach out to me.

You met with a number of mentors, what was a standout quote that has stuck with you?

Bigger is not better – smaller and smarter is.

How do others get involved in the program?

The next application for the Future Shaper program is due to be released in September 2022, each centre may nominate up to two senior leaders from their businesses to apply. Please keep a lookout. I will be joining the AIPC task force that will oversee the program and its next cohort, which I expect to be incredibly rewarding and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the community.