Creating an Industry of Choice

With U.S. college football in full swing, I think back to my days at Michigan State.  I knew then that I wanted to be a part of the hospitality industry. Perhaps I didn’t quite understand all the unique aspects or which career path to take, but I was very focused in obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Management.  I began my career on the supplier side with the Sheraton Corporation but knew that someday I wanted an executive position.  I was fortunate to have had mentors along the way to help me grow and decide which career path to take.  I volunteered with various associations, continued with my professional development and obtained industry specific designations.  I am proud to now be a part of the exhibitions and events industry – an industry that while maintaining a low profile, has had real economic impact.  There are so many great opportunities for graduates and young professionals; however many are not familiar with this industry.  The fact is, many professionals fall into our industry, but we want to help create an “industry of choice” with career paths for lifelong learning and engagement.

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) commissioned a Job Analysis study for exhibitions and events professionals in conjunction with Prometric to obtain descriptive information about the tasks performed in a job and the knowledge needed to adequately perform those tasks.  Over 350 individuals participated in different phases of the job analysis including Task Force members and survey respondents.  The purpose of the Job Analysis was threefold: 1) to develop and validate the listing of tasks and knowledge related to work performed by exhibitions and events professionals, 2) develop job descriptions for roles within the exhibitions and events industry and 3) obtain useful information that can guide educational and professional development initiatives.  The data led IAEE to create specific job categories at the student/novice, entry level, management and executive levels.  This analysis was the key foundation for IAEE’s education platform with the ultimate goal of creating career paths from the student to the executive level.

There is still much to be taught on exhibitions and events at the college level. Many industry positions are overlooked at this stage due to the lack of resources available to educate students.  IAEE has made great strides in closing this gap by providing collegiate faculty with an online Faculty Resource Center that includes lesson plans, presentations and activities to use in classrooms as tools to educate, inform and inspire. The online portal is housed in Blackboard and was developed by the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, Janet Sperstad, CMP and Amanda Cecil, Ph.D., CMP.  The content was guided by IAEE’s body of knowledge contained in The Art of the Show textbook.  Additionally, the IAEE Faculty Advisory Committee was formed to oversee these student and faculty initiatives.  We hope to have more and more colleges and universities integrate this information into their curriculum.  In addition to various student chapter opportunities, IAEE in collaboration with the Young Professionals Committee, has launched a number of Young Professional related products, services and activities to help students transition from college to work life, and support lifelong learning, create a support group and have access to various ways to volunteer and get involved.

Looking down the road, the IAEE team is further developing an education strategy that will advance all-around, versatile and robust exhibitions and events professionals at all levels.  Whether it is a stand-alone program, a co-location event or Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition, education will continue to be a driving force delivered to those at specific job and learning levels, enhanced with three specific areas of focus:  LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT and OPERATIONS.  It’s a very exciting time at IAEE.  It’s also a great time to enter the industry as a professional and a perfect time to commit to lifelong learning and engagement.  I am looking forward to the day when exhibitions and events are discussed at the college level and students actively pursue our industry as their career path.

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

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