Stephanie Selesnick,

Stephanie Selesnick, International Trade Information, Inc.

In its fourth year, UFI’s NGL Grant (Next Generation of Leaders), sponsored by Freeman, gives five young exhibition professionals a chance to be part of the global industry.  In November, they will present findings and thoughts on the future of the exhibition industry during the UFI Global Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

After the Congress, the NGL Grant recipients will enter an executive mentoring program where they will learn, brainstorm, test ideas and discuss work-related challenges and opportunities with C-level mentors from the exhibition industry.

These talented exhibition professionals are from all over the world: Carolin von Tippelskirch, Protocol and Corporate Events, Deutsche Messe AG (Germany), Cinzia Zanin, Research and Development, Fondazione Fiera Milano (Italy), Fuad Musafir, Business Development Manager Exhibition and Live Events, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (Oman), Katie Thompson, Senior Content and Project Manager, The Design Group, Informa Markets (USA), and Laura Docampo, Head of Digital Transformation, Fira de Barcelona (Spain).

I had a chance to meet the winners in Birmingham, UK, during the UFI European Conference where they came together for the first time and recently followed up with the questions below.

Part 1 of this blog covers Carolin, Cinzia and Katie’s answers.

What made you decide to apply for the NGL Grant?

Carolin: It is an access to a great international platform to learn as well as gather insights and ideas of how other trade show/event organizers are approaching tasks at hand and interpreting circumstances differently. I have always been a big fan of cultural exchange, as there is so much to learn and it continues to fascinate me.

We organize events that bring the world together in one physical location. It is great to have this platform to exchange ideas on how other countries approach situations differently or alike with some distinctive areas of focus.

Cinzia:  Back in 2015, when I was an intern at Fondazione Fiera Milano, I helped organizing the 82nd UFI Congress in Milan. I immediately fell in love with this big family and on the last day I promised myself I would be back, as a delegate or maybe even as a speaker. Also, the NGL Grant is the perfect opportunity to share my perspective as a Millennial who works mainly with people in their 20s who dream to work for the exhibition industry.

Katie: One of my colleagues sent me the application and suggested I apply. I have always had a lot of ideas on improving and/or changing things within my scope of responsibilities on The International Surface Event as well as other exhibitions I used to work on. I thought being an NGL Grant recipient would be a great exercise in putting my thoughts on paper – or live as it will be in Thailand.

What’s the most unexpected thing that has happened as a result of receiving the NGL Grant?

Carolin: Two things actually: One, the positive feedback I received from colleagues within the company, some who I haven’t even had that many touchpoints with. All are fascinated by this great opportunity UFI and Freeman make possible for us and want to hear all about it.

Secondly, I met an UFI delegate at an event in Berlin, after having met at the UFI European Conference in Birmingham we approached each other and had a very interesting chat. It was a great feeling to already (after only attending one conference) to feel like a UFI delegate.

Katie: I never expected to meet and make lifelong friends. My fellow recipients and I have connected on a far deeper level than just work. I feel very fortunate to have gotten a chance to know these amazing people.

Cinzia: I did not expect that winning the NGL Grant would affect my life as much as it did. All of a sudden, my LinkedIn profile was booming with viewers and I received nice words from many people in the industry. My family was so excited that I even had to print newspaper articles for my parents, and I had to translate in Polish the UFI news for my grandma!

What are you most looking forward to at the UFI Global Congress in Bangkok?

Carolin: To continue the great conversations we started in Birmingham. Exchange thoughts and ideas around the Platforms of Trust. As the topic of our planned session is very current and closely linked to some of the subjects addressed in other panels, I am very much looking forward to exchanging thoughts and ideas and receiving feedback to our proposed solutions from our presentation.

To be honest I am also very keen on visiting Bangkok and experiencing the Thai culture during and around UFI Global Congress.

Katie: Looking forward to going to Thailand and the new cultural experiences it entails, networking and hopefully not dying on stage!

Cinzia:  After four years, I will finally be at a UFI Congress again. I especially look forward to the networking opportunities and I am ready to be inspired by other speakers, in particular, the Digital Innovation and HR SIGs. And of course, I look forward to our session when we will have the opportunity to share our point of view with the entire industry.

Can you share a glimpse of what your session will cover – or one thing that surprised you most in the results of your survey/research?

Cinzia:  Our session will take the exhibition industry to its roots: H2H (Human to Human). We will show (and not just tell) the importance of putting people at the center of a strategy where data improve interactions, and experience and hospitality are important key factors for success. Katie and I will share our thoughts on the experience in a venue, in particular I will focus on what people in their 20s and 30s expect from exhibitions and how user experience design is changing other industries. We had fun during our brainstorming sessions and we hope that the audience will appreciate our creativity.

Katie: The overall theme of the presentation is the importance of human-to-human interaction in the exhibition industry and how we leverage the technology side and digital interaction. But in order to do that properly, we have to build trust on the human side.

Applications for the 5th NGL Grant will be available the first week of November.

Part 2 will feature Laura and Fuad.

Find out more about the UFI Global Congress in Thailand and register here: