The UFI Next Generation of Leaders (NGL) Recipients Monika Baro, Project Manager, VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific Co., Ltd, Daniella Galante, Digital Marketing & Creative Manager, RX South Africa, Joseph Kowalsky, Show Director, Emerald X LLC, Maria Victoria Piñeres, Operations Manager, Costa Rica Convention Center/Grupo Heroica Volio y Trejos S.A., Justine Rabel, International Key Account Manager, Eventmaker, and Jon Yahirun, Customer Success Manager, Clarion Events will present their findings and recommendations for the exhibition industry to attract and retain talent in their “A New Talent Narrative” at the upcoming UFI Global Congress.

I spoke with three of the recipients (Daniella, Maria, and Jon) last week about the process of developing their highly anticipated session and what to expect.

Maria began the conversation, “It’s been a lot of fun, interesting and challenging – deciding on a topic, conducting research, and seeing if our hypotheses run true, or not. One thing we’ve all realized is that going forward, change in our lives and the industry is a constant and is here to stay. We will have to adapt to survive.

One of their original hypotheses was that having few academic designations for the exhibition industry in universities across the world was a negative. She continued, “We discovered that instead, it’s an opportunity to bring diverse people and skill sets into our industry.  We should acknowledge some of the same skills as well as different skills are needed for the future. For example, programming and operations are often ignored, but are critically important for staging live exhibitions. In my office we have a saying, ‘Sales promise and operations has the magic to deliver it.’”

Daniella said, “Our NGL class has all grown so much over the last six months. Being able to meet and consult with our mentors, the UFI team, speaking with HR and marketing executives and hearing their pain points has been invaluable. It’s been great to collaborate with and get to know fellow recipients. We’ve become very close.”

Looking at other industries and their trends is one way to reevaluate our needs post Covid. Daniella added, “We have to be more flexible to recruit top talent and modernize our industry.”

What will help attract top talent? Maria said, “The word ‘FUN’ compensates the crazy hours and stress – because our industry is fun!” Jon added, “At our recent show in San Diego, CA, USA, it was stressful leading up to the show, but then we got a chance to bond with clients and the team in person. It was exciting to see the show come alive.”

The three agreed that producing exhibitions is addictive. Jon said, “There’s a thrill watching a show begin from scratch, working on it so hard and to finally see it executed live! That feeling is contagious and addictive. We’re all adrenaline junkies – thriving on the challenges of making decisions and solving problems. Daniella added, “When I get to show site, I start getting post-show-blues (feeling sad) because it’s almost over.”

How do we share those feelings? How do we communicate the almost indescribable feeling and fun that working on an exhibition brings?

Maria said they will be sharing answers to those questions and more, but you’ll have to be at their session to hear it. “We have the opportunity to express how fun our business is. It’s more than just events! It’s more than booths and conferences. Daniella added, “Nothing can beat the buzz on a show floor, especially post-COVID. Nothing can replace that feeling.” I agree!

The NGL session, “A New Talent Narrative” takes place during the UFI Global Congress in Muscat, Oman on Tuesday, November 15, 4:00-4:45pm (16:00-16:45).