Why Businesses Need to Invest in Professional Education

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IMR Blogger Stephanie Selesnick shares her experiences both as a student and a teacher in the MICE industry, and vouches for the value of professional education.

By: Stephanie Selesnick/INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS REVIEW

As I get ready to head out to the sold out IAEE Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. this week, I‘m reminded about why I originally joined the organization. The number one reason was education. While I knew much more than most first-timers, I had a long way to go. IAEE provided a lot of my professional education, and then SISO (Society of Independent Show Organizers) took it to the next level.

In the many years since that first IAEE summer meeting, there were a lot of firsts. I’m a proud graduate of the first classes of the Future Leaders Institute as well as the Graduate Institute. I walked across the stage in LA as one of five people earning their CEM. There was the first time I gave a panel session to my peers, and the first time I taught a CEM class – it was on operations. I went on to teach many, many more sessions all over the world. There was my first time teaching at a University (was at California State Fullerton on Meeting Planning’s session on exhibitions – to the forerunners of the “Orange County Housewives”)

When I work with clients or hear about organizations that don’t pay for the education of their teams, it saddens me. Don’t they realize by not supporting an ongoing professional training and educational program, they are hurting their own organizations? Leaving money on the table?

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Some of the excuses I’ve heard include (in no particular order):

1) If we let people go to educational events, they will find other jobs.

Is your company that bad a place to work? Do you disrespect your employees that much that they would jump ship just because they met someone or heard of another job by going to an IAEE, PCMA, or MPI annual meeting? Trust me. If you Google your company name and the second listing is GlassDoor.com, they’re already on their way out.

2) It’s too expensive

If you send a salesperson to a training seminar and they come back enthusiastic with new products or sponsorships to sell, or close at a better rate, where’s the real cost? If you send marketing people to the Content Management Institute or New Media Expo and they learn new tricks of the trade, therefore bringing in more exhibitors and/or visitors, is that a real cost? What about a local chapter educational session? Is a half-day out of the office really that expensive to your organization, when it results in a smarter workforce?

3) Bad timing

There’s always going to be a show or event that conflicts with industry education. Then again, there’s an awful lot of education available year-round. While online is nice, we are in the people to people business. Learning in person is a whole different animal. We all know that synergies in person are not the same as online. It’s the same with education.

If your company or association doesn’t educate your exhibition and meeting planners, rethink your policy. Today.

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