For the last Next Generation of Leaders (NGL) interview, I spoke with Justine Rabel, International Key Account Manager, Eventmaker and Monika Baro, Project Manager, VNU Exhibitions Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. Our first featured Joe Kowalsky, Show Director, Emerald X LLC, and the second featured Daniella Galante, Digital Marketing & Creative Manager, RX South Africa, Maria Victoria Piñeres, Operations Manager, Costa Rica Convention Center/Grupo Heroica Volio y Trejos S.A., and Jon Yahirun, Customer Success Manager, Clarion Events.

I asked Justine and Monika what the best thing is about being part of this year’s class of UFI’s Next Generation of Leaders.

Justine: “The number one thing is the ability to have a voice and platform to discuss the future of our industry. This includes meeting amazing people (in person and online) including fellow NGL’s, our mentors, and the UFI team. These are people who truly care about the exhibition industry.”

Echoing Justine, Monika agreed that having a platform and voice to be able to discuss the future of the exhibition industry has been a great experience. She said, “The best thing about the NGL program has been meeting people with a similar passion and a clear sense of purpose. It wants me take my career to the next level.”

They agreed meeting their fellow NGL’s in person in March at the UFI European Conference was “transformative”. Justine said everyone’s investment and involvement in their upcoming session has been the same – with passion and purpose. Their generation, no matter the locale, is experiencing the same struggles and issues.

The NGL Session at the UFI Congress in Muscat, Oman will bring new ideas to recruit and retain personnel. Through data obtained via the survey along with conversations with exhibition industry professionals, “Some specific points we thought about before doing the research held true. Industry pros have a passion for our industry. However, we also want a work/life balance, better compensation, and good leadership,” said Justine.

Monika added, “Our findings were validated by data, not subjectivity. One question on the survey asked respondents if they could imagine leaving the industry. Fifty percent said yes, indicating a big issue that needs improvement, or there will be a big talent drain. Some of these people are CEO-level which is scary.”

What are they most looking forward to in Muscat, Oman, besides presenting their Session?

Justine: “To present and have feedback on eight months’ worth of work. The Congress is a time to meet face-to-face seeing friends, meeting, and networking. Being part of the NGL has made it easier to meet other exhibition pros from all over the world.”

Monica concluded, “To be part of a community celebration is inspiring. It’s validating to be with like-minded people. Also, the Global Congress will be an opportunity to experience another culture, have adventures, and try new foods!” I agree.