The Future Leaders Forum is an initiative of IMEX, MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and MCI to motivate bright young students from across the world to enter the meetings and incentive travel industry. The first forum was organised in 2003, in the last 11 years it has been held in 29 countries and attended by 5,600 students. India is the latest addition to this list. The Future Leaders Forum was held for the very first time in New Delhi recently. “We seek to bring together students for an informative, interactive and enjoyable day, to meet and talk with industry leaders from around the world and to be motivated and stimulated to join the industry. We always look for key locations to hold the forum where the industry is developing and where the potential for inspiring the future leaders is high,” says Miguel Neves, Knowledge and Social Media manager, IMEX Group. The forums are open to university level students who are about to take the step into professional life. “We work along with our partners with local institutions who we offer places to be distributed to their top students,” mentions Neves.
While each forum is customised according to the destination, there is a core structure for all forums. “We focus on providing the students with opportunities that are not available in regular academic education, especially current industry perspectives from active meeting professionals. The forums also provide the students with knowledge and tools that will help them in their transition from academic education to professional life,” explains Neves. Some of the key topics that are included in the forums are: Global and multi-sector meetings industry overview; local or regional future outlook for the meetings industry; advice and training on networking, personal branding and business etiquette; guidance on opportunities for continuous education; inspirational career stories that students can easily relate to; opportunities for students to interact informally with industry professionals and students from different regions and academic institutions; opportunities for students to showcase their skills and talent, etc.
There are plans to organise 18 forums next year. According to Neves, the strategy for motivating the participating students is giving them an insider’s look into a potentially great career. “We ask expert professionals to share their experience and we actively encourage the students to network and find their dream job or niche role in the industry. Many of the professionals have inspirational stories that have a profound effect on the students. There are also great stories, such as my personal one, about forum attendees that are today taking on key roles in the industry,” he says.
Neves believes that the Future Leaders Forum presented by ICPB and IT&CM India laid the groundwork for more and more generations of Indian leaders to take advantage of what the forum can offer. “The local MCI team did a fantastic job and the quality of the students was outstanding. We were very impressed and we hope to achieve even more next year as we establish the forum as a yearly activity. We aim to establish the forum as a regular event. Our new partnership, since January 2012, is enabling us to be more professional and take advantage of their great teams spread out globally to create better and better forums,” he states with optimism. He acknowledges that the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum is an event that not only develops young talent, but also enables learning from the new generation.