1. Lessons In Leadership

Small World

Diverse backgrounds — shared humanity.

Recently Janet Dell and I joined colleagues at the UFI Global CEO Summit in Amsterdam. It’s something I always find rewarding and, because Janet will take the helm as CEO in July, I asked her to join me.  It’s an invitation-only event, which makes it uniquely intimate and allows for a meaningful exchange of ideas between the leaders who shape and drive the future of the exhibition industry.

I always leave UFI with new insights. But what struck me, sitting in a relatively small room with these thought-leaders, is how small our world is and yet how rich in diversity. Participants represented a virtual Who’s Who of international show organizers and venue operators — many there as ambassadors for their specific organization or business sector, their home country or region, and the stakeholders for whom they advocate. It was fascinating to hear about their regional trends, priorities, and concerns, and how these issues are being addressed.

It was also gratifying to affirm how much we are all the same.

Certainly, within the events ecosystem, we share the urgent need to scrutinize our ecological impact. Also, we are all grappling with the best way to recruit, train, and sustain young professionals who may not grasp the full range of opportunities in our industry. We are ever mindful of health, safety, and security issues. And always, global unrest and uncertainty in the economy factor into planning.

We have all witnessed the power of bringing people together — how exhibitions provide a trusted place for international commerce, serve as incubators for innovation, and become the conduit for spreading best practices. We share a mandate for responsible, accountable leadership.

At the end of the day, what comes through is our shared humanity. We show up carrying our names and titles, our home country, and our hopes for 2024. We also bring our own perspectives and cultural biases. But we know that a lot of people are counting on us. We want to honor that responsibility. And that’s what I discovered at UFI. Even though we represent so many different countries, we ultimately come from the same place. We all want to do the right thing.

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