Originally published in Trade Show Executive, Feb 2014 Issue

As we start 2014 and shift our focus with a new strategic plan, we are excited by the emphasis that the IAEE board of directors is placing on young professionals. When the strategic planning groups, including the Future Trends Task Force, International Committee and Education Committee, convened to discuss the long-term objectives of IAEE, consideration of this unique audience was pervasive throughout th

Today, the needs of young professionals are different than are those of experienced veterans. For many years, organizations favored hiring individuals who had achieved certain levels of education, earned designations or simply had “put in their time,” which resulted in many young professionals missing opportunities to start their careers in their industry of choice. Now, employers are paying special attention to young professionals to reach a completely new generation of consumers and workers who are more than willing to make their contributions in their own ways, and the results are positive.

IAEE is wholeheartedly committed to providing education and networking experiences for young professionals. In addition the education programs offered for and by young professionals at IAEE chapters, at Expo! Expo! in December, several sessions including Career Evolution: Strategies for Job Advancement and the Executive Breakfast panel. These sessions not only helped young professionals learn from experienced veterans, but we turned the tables and put our industry’s young professionals on panels in speaking roles so that IAEE’s contingent of established industry leaders could have the opportunity to learn from these future leaders.

IAEE is providing the learning lab that will give this generation an edge in the real world. IAEE’s chapters are continually planning events to involve young professionals and provide leadership opportunities so that they may have the chance to make a difference in a volunteer role and carry it forward to their careers. Similarly, our Young Professionals Committee (YPC) is one of the most active groups in the association. With the objective of providing a focus on the needs of those who are at the beginning of their career paths, and to develop programs and benefits that are especially valuable to those early in their careers, IAEE’s YPC is committed to creating programs that work for this audience. From face-to-face participation at industry events to involvement online and on social media to making editorial contributions to supporting recognition programs, the YPC is a driving force in reaching new professionals by spreading the word about the value and benefits IAEE offers.

Additionally, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has developed targeted market research to help the industry better understand this generation. In 2009 and 2010, the Power of Exhibitions Phase I and Phase II reports provided insights on what makes Gen X and Millennial professionals tick, the extent of value they place on attending exhibitions, their motivations for coming and how best to market to them. Given the recommendations offered to organizers in these earlier reports, in 2013, research was commissioned by the CEIR Foundation to determine to what extent these recommendations have been followed, and more importantly, have they worked? CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau, PRC at Expo! Expo! in December shared preliminary findings from this study, What Organizers are Doing to Prepare for the Major Generational Shift in the Workforce of 2015. The approach used to complete this research entailed an online survey fielded last fall as well as in-depth interviews. In the near future, a report will be released summarizing results and highlighting best practices shared in the in-depth interviews.

IAEE will continue to identify young professionals within IAEE’s membership and determine their special needs and expectations and develop initiatives specifically designed to meet those needs. ExhibitionIndustryJobs.com is one of IAEE’s top resources for young professionals interested in starting their careers in the industry. We will also continue to engage professors and students at colleges and universities who may not be as familiar with exhibitions and events as part of the overall marketing mix and create a trajectory for this career path. Watch for the launch of IAEE’s Faculty Resource Center and supporting materials for students in the coming weeks.

There is no question that IAEE’s rising stars are the young professionals in this industry. I am excited to learn from them and bring their ideas to fruition and contribute to the continued growth of IAEE and the global exhibitions and events industry.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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