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IAEE Awards Spotlight on Alex Land, CEM: 2016 Young Professional of the Year Award Winner

By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager

Alex Land, CEM serves as Sales Executive for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. He has advocated for IAEE on local and national levels by serving on IAEE’s Young Professionals Committee as the Chairperson, as well as chairing the Washington, D.C. Chapter Young Professional Committee. Alex has also served on the IAEE Education Committee and the IAEE Future Trends Task Force.

In addition to his service to IAEE, he was a 20 Under 30 honoree in 2014, attended the IAEE Krakoff Leadership Institute in 2015 and achieved his CEM designation in October 2015. His initiative, motivation and dedication to IAEE earned him the 2016 IAEE Young Professional of the Year Award. Here, Alex shares with IAEE how he continues to learn the most he can about the industry, the value of great mentorship and why our YPs would conquer any “Battle of the Young Professionals” competition.

PHOTO CAPTION: Awards presentation during the Networking Luncheon at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016 in Anaheim, CA. From left to right: Representing the IAEE Awards Committee, Randy Bauler, CEM; Alex Land, CEM; and IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.

IAEE: How did you become involved in the exhibitions and events industry, and what has surprised you the most about a career in this field?

ALEX: Three experiences growing up led to my interest in the industry.

First, I was a pretty nerdy kid growing up. I remember being so excited for the June/July editions of GamePro Magazine, where they’d talk about all the wild new announcements at E3. I’ve still never seen the show but it’s a major bucket list expo for me. Every time I read about the show I get that same nostalgia of rushing home from school to read about the show back in the 90s.

Secondly, in high school I had a friend who worked at a surf shop in Florida. He attended Surf Expo every year on behalf of his shop. I tagged along one year and we had an absolute blast. That was the first time I fell in love with the concept of trade shows as a place where people around the world get together to do business and celebrate their niche, whatever it is.

Third, I went to college for Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida. During my junior and senior years, I interned at a DMC (destination management company) that handled transportation programs for pharma clients. Essentially, I worked at a company that manages the drivers who stand at airports with your name on a sign. It was an incredible opportunity to travel the country as a student and learn about the importance of business travel and meetings. I remember a particular trip when we worked the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) convention in Chicago. My boss got me a badge and told me to take the day to walk the floor. ASCO was basically the exact opposite of Surf Expo – people in suits vs. people in flip flops but the commonality of people there to conquer their world was so striking.

The thing I’m continuously surprised by in our industry is the respect you’re given as a young person. In my experience, successful people in our world look for inspiration from everyone. I’ve been to industry meetings where I’m half the age of everyone else in the room.  These men and women, who have built incredible organizations and events over their careers, are all focused on seeking new ideas and disrupting the successful models they’ve built over decades.  It’s awe inspiring and something I know my generation will continue to build on.

IAEE: What IAEE program(s) have you found most beneficial to you as a young professional, and what impressed you about it?

ALEX: I wouldn’t be here at Las Vegas if I wasn’t selected to be a part of IAEE’s 20 Under 30. It is my de facto favorite program that IAEE runs. It’s a wonderful opportunity for young people to attend Expo! Expo! who may not be able to budget for it otherwise. It is hard for your organization to refuse to buy the plane ticket when IAEE is fronting the registration cost.

I don’t think you can really be an IAEE advocate until you go to Expo! Expo! – it’s the industry’s Super Bowl! After attending Expo! Expo! as both a client and a vendor, it’s one of those events you have to experience to believe.

I haven’t attended the Krakoff Leadership Institute in its current form; but the former version, split out between KLI and Advanced, was awesome. It was a powerful experience to listen to Megan Tanel, CEM interview Lawson Hockman at the Dinner with a Legend. The cross-pollination of industry powerhouses with an impressive collection of aspiring future leaders gave me something to eagerly anticipate as I progress in my career.

IAEE: What is the best asset you think YPs bring to the table?

ALEX: Young professionals bring new ideas and a ton of work ethic. Young people, especially on the sales/vendor side, are always up for that dinner or drinks after an event and, honestly, that’s where industry bonds are forged. Let your younger salespeople do their thing, and help them feel confident in themselves and what they are selling.

Regarding work ethic, organizations really should be empowering YPs as hard-working, relatively cheap assets. I’m only 30 but I’ve been working in this industry for nine years now. It’s pretty incredible to watch the people I’ve grown with in this world go out and do amazing things within the framework of their jobs. Look at Bill McGlade, CEM; I call him “Trade Show Steve Jobs” now and it’s because he’s worked for an extraordinary set of people who let him spread his wings.

IAEE: Imagine you are in a “Battle of the YPs” across various industries. Do you think exhibitions and events YPs would take the win, and if so, how?

ALEX: Remember the battle royale from Anchorman? Look, all I’m saying is if we can get the GES and Freemans of the world to bridge the gap there’s no way we lose. Our industry partners work with blunt objects all day! Plus, I’ve seen Brooke Pierson ”irritated”; no way some CPA is taking her in a fistfight.

IAEE: What is the best advice you have received so far from industry veterans?

ALEX: There are four pieces of personal/professional advice that have guided me in my career. Scott Crawford taught me to ask questions the right way. Ryan Brown taught me to say ‘no’ without saying ‘no.’ Dan Cole taught me to create and embrace moments of serendipity. Andy Ortale taught me how to make an impact without getting lost in the weeds. There is always something valuable to learn from leaders before you. Spending five minutes in a room with the incredible leadership I have in in Vegas drives home how much I need to learn in business and as a person to get to the level of a Chris Meyer who has impacted so many people and even served as IAEE chair. The advice I’ve received along the way guides me constantly.

IAEE: What advice would you offer to someone considering entering this industry?

ALEX: Jump in with a winning team. Young people are expected to move around before they find their home, career wise. Find your winning team and don’t settle for less. The best organizations will see your potential and build you up to be an asset to their entire mission, not just someone who audits floorplans or takes care of menial tasks. Do not settle. Find your mentor, find your winning team. I was always told

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