Nina Freysen-Pretorius, CEO of The Conference Company in South Africa, is now serving her second term as President of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA). She shared her thoughts on learning, gender equality and the future of meeting industry.
Text by Vikas Tembhare
How important is knowledge and learning to you?
Knowledge is information or a skill gained through experience or education, awareness gained by experience of a fact or situation, according to the definition in the Oxford dictionary. Learning, on the other hand, is the ability, openness and preparedness to learn a new skill set or way to do something. I think that learning is much more challenging as it potentially means that we have to change something that we have done in a certain way. This is often uncomfortable and unpleasant – but ultimately always necessary.
Is there a ‘revolution’ in the world of association meetings?
The word “revolution” conjures up so many negative connotations to me in light of all the political unrest and change, displacement of people and escalating environmental challenges. But if one has to use this word, I believe that it is used to address the establishment of associations that are not-for-profit entities representing like-minded professionals. Associations and the meetings that they host have the ability to bring about positive change and provide the necessary support by means of lobbying, knowledge sharing and education to deal with the many challenges we are experiencing.
What is the priority of the meeting industry in the future?
Different associations and its members have to become much more vocal to ensure we remain on the right path as a collective. Also, they should use all means available to them to get these messages out to the members and the general public, and social media makes it much more doable than ever before – therefore there should be no excuses!
How important is gender equality in the meeting industry?
The meeting industry continues to be very inclusive in as far as the employment of both sexes, compared to other industries. But the matter of equal pay and opportunities has to be raised and dealt with. That Iceland has become the first country in the world to ensure equal pay for men and women really sets the right tone and I hope that other countries and organisations will follow.
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