PCMA CL 2023

PCMA Convening Leaders 2023

Article published 23/02/2023

In January (8th - 11th), our Head of Business Events, Neil Brownlee and Senior Business Events Manager, Rory Archibald travelled to Colombus, Ohio to attend PCMA Convening Leaders, the association's flagship education and networking event.

Kickstarting the global industry's event season, the four-day event brought together 3,300 attendees from across the world to share knowledge, innovation and their passion in ensuring that the global business events industry is doing all it can to be environmentally and socially sustainability.

Themed 'Ignite Your Path', PCMA Convening Leaders 2023 encouraged attendees not to dwell on the past and to drive towards a more inclusive and forward-thinking industry, as reiterated by PCMA's CEO, Sherrif Karamat in his opening speech.

This year's programme of sessions focused on key topics for the global business events sector, particularly diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and environmental sustainability, something which resonates closely with VisitScotland's goals and values.

PCMA curated a wide range of content, designed to educate attendees on how they can create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. One session, attended by the team, provided an insight into international travel for the transgender community, giving the business events community a stark reminder there is more to be done.

Commenting on the DEI sessions, Rory Archibald, Senior Business Events Manager at VisitScotland Business Events said: "It is clear from what we heard during the sessions that we are nowhere near being an industry where DEI is at the core of everything we do. We look to organisations such as PCMA, Destinations International and ICCA to take a stance and lead with conviction and authenticity. As an industry we need to do better. We need to work collaboratively and quickly to ensure that we create a sector that is truly welcoming and embraces everyone regardless of their preferences or background."

Environmental sustainability was also a key priority, with delegates regularly reminded on the correct recycling processes and encouraged to use public transport where possible. At the event, PCMA announced its partnership with the American Geophysical Union to further its commitment to tackling climate change. The new partnership will help elevate the industry and its events when it comes to taking sustainability beyond talk and into action.

As we improve as an industry, we must recognise that we need to get better faster. Collaboration will be crucial to ensure true sustainability for events and we must work as one industry to achieve Net Zero. It's time to remove egos and competition to achieve this goal.

We are seeing from our clients a demand for events that are environmentally sustainable, and have tangible outreach to local communities and events that make a difference in reducing inequalities, advancing quality education and contributing to sustainable cities.

The event was also an opportunity for the PCMA Board of Directors to meet in person. The Board guides and monitors PCMA's strategic planning and contributes insight towards staff endeavours. VisitScotland's Head of Business Events, Neil Brownlee sits on the board alongside fellow Scot, Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at the SEC in Glasgow.

PCMA CL Board Members 2023

PCMA Board of Directors 2023 members Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events, and Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at SEC

Speaking on the event Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events, VisitScotland said: "This year's PCMA Convening Leaders was an excellent opportunity to discuss the future of our sector and see examples of where work is still needed to create a fairer and more equitable industry. For Scotland, social and environmental sustainability is at the core of what we do, and we want to see this rolled out across other destinations and organisations to ensure that we are doing everything we can to improve our sector for the future."