PARIS — Monica Lee-Müller stepped into her new role as President of UFI, the global association of the exhibitions industry, for the 2021-2022 term after the recent 87th Global Congress. She joined UFI’s 2021-2022 Presidential Trio, which also includes incumbent President Anbu Varathan of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association and Outgoing President Mary Larkin of Diversified Communications.
“Monica Lee-Müller is a truly inspirational leader in the global exhibitions industry, and I am very happy about her new role this year’s UFI President,” Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, said. “Her management style is highly praised by her staff and colleagues around the world, and she is a role model for so many.”
Trade Show Executive caught up with Lee-Müller during a busy week in her role as Managing Director of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited (HML) — the company responsible for managing and operating the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) — to get her take on the state of the industry and what lies ahead in 2022.
Trade Show Executive: Do you see 2022 as the start of a return to normalcy for trade shows?
Lee-Müller: Yes, with the increasing vaccination rate globally and human resilience, I’m optimistic that normalcy will gradually return in 2022, although the degree of normalcy may vary across countries and regions. In Hong Kong, local consumer shows have started returning gradually, although in a reduced scale while travel restrictions are still in place. Once the border reopens and international travel resumes, I’m confident that our industry will rebound quickly.
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Trade Show Executive: What are your top priorities for the coming year as UFI’s new president?
Lee-Müller: The biggest common enemy the world is facing is not the pandemic. Rather, climate change is the most serious threat to mankind on this planet. The exhibition industry has an important role to play in establishing policies and shaping best practices and mindsets.
UFI recently joined with other organizations, including HML, to form a task force and create the Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative, which we announced at COP26. One of the upcoming and most important tasks at UFI is to drive our industry players to sign the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge and take action. Joining the pledge means that we commit to establishing a path and roadmap to meet the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and to Net Zero by 2050.
Trade Show Executive: As an Asian woman, how do you hope to inspire others in the industry to finally break through that glass ceiling?
Lee-Müller: Women should not compete with men to prove ourselves; women should appreciate who we are and advance ourselves by constantly acquiring new knowledge and taking on new challenges. Employers could help by providing an environment for female staff to enjoy work-life balance. For example, at HML, we offer flexible working hours, paternity leave, nursing room facilities and more.
Female directors make up 28% of the UFI Board. I will continue to build on UFI’s foundation of diversity. As a global association, we need and welcome talented, committed women — and men — from different races, cultures and backgrounds to drive our industry forward.