Does the Future Belong to Us? Young Meeting Professionals at the ICCA Congress in Prague, Nov 2017

14th Dec, 2017

Many of us are familiar with ICCA as an industry organisation and with the events, they organise. Last month they hosted their 56th annual congress with a record attendance of almost 1300 participants. Several council members were able to attend – and we were curious to see how many YPs get the chance to do so, in what ways they are present at the event, and what their experience is like. On top of YP attendants and speakers, this year ICCA tried something new to attract and showcase young potential within our sector, which we were very happy to see!

‘The future belongs to us’ was a competition with a jury of YP-peers, allowing young professionals to envision a congress session that they think is worth attending, that is well set-up and treats a relevant topic. Thanks to the 6 brave souls who took charge of the young professionals’ meeting industry future by jumping on stage at the ICCA congress, by showcasing their potential and their vision for next congresses!

Meetings+Millennials spoke to several young colleagues who attended the congress, including colleagues who participated in the ICCA contest. We asked them about their experience, their views on how they can project their voice in the industry – and their ideas about the future. Happy reading!


M+M: What motivated you to participate in the ICCA contest?

Sezen Elagoz, Business Development Executive, Kenes Group: Like many Millennials, I am competitive by creation. I am a firm believer of continuously developing and even reinventing myself and enjoy the process.  Challenges like this competition are great tools to achieve this goal.

Karin Hagemann, Head of Convention Bureau, Montreux-Vevey Tourisme: I started looking into it as different industry friends encouraged me to. I believe that we learn and grow most when leaving our comfort zone, similar to what Sezen expresses, so I thought it would be a great opportunity for me.

Amalie Andersen, Senior Project Manager – Events, Wonderful Copenhagen: Agreed! I also aimed to challenge myself and meet likeminded YP’s.


M+M: The pattern of ‘challenging yourself’ as well as connecting with others seems to come to the forefront with 3 of our colleagues who participated in the contest. Do you recognise this as a participant of the congress as well as the session?

Vikas Tembhare, Meeting Media Group (Headquarters Magazine): For me industry events are the platform to listen, share & learn. I try to meet all kind of professionals (all ages). However, meeting and spending time with young professionals does have an added advantage. We connect very fast, we share more and do not hesitate to open mind and thoughts; we ‘Learn together and grow together’. The ICCA competition was a good try to facilitate opportunities for young professionals.


M+M: What has been the response to your participation in the contest? Did you get any fun, crazy, bad, good, feedback? (or a job offer?;)

Sezen: I received many congratulations from people I know and people I don’t know. Even though I did not win I did develop myself on the way- which was my aim.

Karin: I was very surprised from the responses I got actually! I knew some familiar faces were in the room who would give me feedback but I was surprised by how many amazing remarks I received from people I did not know!

Amalie: I also received very positive responses from both known and unknown peers. Furthermore, we received a master class in public speaking from David Becket as well as a 15 min alone session with him to improve our pitch. Public speaking is not everyone’s favourite game, but nonetheless if you want a voice then you have got to ace that game. So that was a great prize in itself!

Karin: I agree! It was a fabulous opportunity to get a personal coaching session with David.


M+M: Great to hear that the contest was set up in a way that everybody would ‘win’ from competing! We think this is key to making these kind of opportunities work – well done to the ICCA team! On that note, do you guys feel that there are sufficient ways for young professionals to engage/be visible/share in our industry?

Karin: There are different organisations that organise programs for YPs, such as 20 in their Twenties by PCMA or the Forum of Young Professional by ICCA. So I definitely recommend all the YPs to apply to those events as they are great platforms to meet new industry colleagues and grow your network. But you should also connect with more experienced industry friends as you can learn a lot from them.

Amalie: I am not so sure that we should aim things to be particularly around Millennials only. However, I think congresses and conferences should acknowledge that this generation is here and things should be designed for both Millennials and the other generations.

Vikas: I see there are many ways to engage as a YP. Also group activities and sessions give chance to share your experience and know about other experience from different geography.

Sezen: There are some meetings/forums, however I feel participation in most industry events for the Millennials is not that easy as it is difficult to show ROI and the lack of content aimed at Millennials.  Education doesn’t have to be different for different generations, good professional practice stays same across ages. Yet some focus on networking events and more opportunities like the competition we have participated in could help create a platform for us to gather around.

Side note from the M+M team; For those of us that are in the association sector, ASAE also hosts an amazing yearly event for young professionals (not fully event specific); ASAE NextGen Association Summit.


M+M: we are happy to hear such a cross-generational approach with many of you, as this is what we stand for also! However, lastly – just to get our point across – why do you think its important you and the rest of our ‘generation’ in the industry are heard and seen?

Karin: YPs often bring new ideas or point of views, so that is the reason why I believe it is important everyone should be put in the same rooms, as all generations have something else to offer and by working all together we will be more efficient and find new solutions.

Sezen: Most Millennials have come to professional maturity, in terms of age.  We are in a period in our lives where we have experience, knowledge and energy and drive which hopefully leads to actions and result. I feel this is why our generation is being put under the magnifying glass: We are keen, motivated, want to make a difference, have a purpose, share etc.  Just look how the world’s consumption habits have changed; we are not interested in ownership anymore.  If we want to listen to a song, we subscribe to an app, we don’t buy albums. The millennial age is already here, it is just natural that millennial ideas are heard too.

M+M – that sounds like a beautiful statement to close this conversation: The millennial age is already here, its just natural that our voice gets heard! Thanks to Karin, Vikas, Sezen and Amalie for their willingness to share with us.


Other Articles

About Us

Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.