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April 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net9Fiona PelhamPresident of association Meeting Professionals International (MPI) UK and IrelandChapter shares her experience of the association's recent European Meetings and Events Conference(EMEC) in Dusseldorf.MPI takes time to focusEach year MPI holds a EuropeanMeetings and Event Conference(EMEC) and this year's event wasin Dusseldorf, Germany at the CongressCentre Dusseldorf (CCD). The theme ofthe event was 'focus'. As we all know, working in the eventsector can often mean struggling to findthe time to focus. MPI attempted toprovide some answers, delivering a three-day conference which provided tools andpractical expertise to attendees to learnhow to decide what their own, personaland professional focus should be. From day one of the conference over300 planners, suppliers, speakers,students and guest attendees wereinvited to start thinking about what theywanted their conference outcomes to be,with a session from Jon Bradshaw ongetting in the Meetings Mindset. At thesame time the chapter leaders from the12 European chapters were gathered fora leadership development session withRobin Sharma. The content of theseeducation sessions and unique tools (like the conference iphone application)meant that, before the opening generalsession we were equipped with theattitude and resources we needed to 'focus'.On day two delegates took part in a Flash Point session which included a series of 10-minute presentations withsuccinct take away learnings. Imagine a conference version of watching filmtrailers and you will have an idea of theexperience, as each speaker delivered apractical summary of the sessions theywould be leading over the next few days.This format handed us, the delegates,the opportunity to choose our focus andsatisfy our curiosity on what we weremissing. 'How to get more yes' fromyour stakeholders' and 'A case study onthe success of SAS Customer relations'were among content seminars on offer.Day three of the conference broughtanother new format, one which handedthe decision on focus squarely back tothe delegate. The solution room dividedattendees into groups according to thecomplexity of their chosen challenge.After further divisions everyone wasgiven time to address someone else'schallenge.As this year's MPI UK and IrelandChapter President I have attended a number of EMEC conferences beforeand I am aware this could make meseem biased about the conference andits social events, our closing dinner wasin Dusseldorf's airport terminal with a backdrop of check in desks and a runway, so I gained input from twoother UK and Ireland members; RobEveleigh, Managing Director of Ideas ison the MPI UK and Ireland Board asEvents Chair and received a foundationgrant available for planners to attendEMEC; and Michael Dalton who iscurrently studying for an honours degreein Event, Hospitality and TourismManagement at Dundalk Institute ofTechnology. He is due to complete hisstudies in May 2011 and is a studentmember of MPI.Eveleigh said: "We talk a lot in ourindustry about providing a good level ofROI for events. Of course this not onlyapplies to the financial aspect, but alsoASSOCIATION VIEWFiona Pelham Conference+Meetings WorldApril 2011ASSOCIATION VIEWresources such as time. As a beneficiaryof an MPI Foundation grant I didn't haveto worry about the financial side.However, in terms of my time I receivedat least 10 times back. The value ofnetworking with industry peers alonewas invaluable; when put together withthe inspirational education programme itwas an insurmountable experience."Dalton said: "I was honoured as astudent member of the MPI UK andIreland Chapter to be able to attend theEMEC. On the final day, I participated inan experimental session known as theSolution Room. This was unbelievable. It allowed me the opportunity to havemy question answered by a wide rangeof people in the industry. It offered methe insight that there are actually thingsthat I have learned throughout mystudies which some people in theindustry do not know. My knowledge isof value to the industry. This sessionencouraged me to reflect on myeducation and what I have learnedwhich could help me to differentiatemyself in my career path. "I definitely returned from EMEC with agreater understanding and focus of thevariety of career paths within ourindustry. I now have the confidence andfocus to begin my career journey."The enthusiasm and knowledge gainedfrom attending EMEC by just two of theover 40 UK and Ireland attendees is afantastic sign for the future of the UKand Ireland Chapter. With regulareducation events, monthly MPI and apint nights and a variety of volunteeropportunities, it is clear that our chapterfocus is on shaping the future of theevent sector and the personal andprofessional future of our members.Now might be the time for you to askyourself: how focused are you? EMEC photos courtesy of MPI UK and Ireland Chapter