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SISO Leadership Conference to Focus on NextGen Leaders


Santa Monica, CA – When the Society of Independent Show Organizers gathers for its annual Leadership Conference in Dallas in August, the spotlight will be on skills training for up-and-coming leaders in the industry as well as informational panel discussions about the methods current leaders can employ to encourage and develop the next generation of industry leaders.

Young professionals will have access to leadership and management tools that can help them rise through the ranks; while current leaders will be provided with insights and tools that encourage millennial participation in the industry.

That’s according to executive director Lew Shomer, who noted that in order attract and retain millennials, “You have to challenge them and give them responsibility.” To that end, the conference will feature industry issues, trends and solutions designed to help management professionals advance in leadership roles.

The focus on millennials, who could make up as much as 40% of the workforce within the next five years, will help industry leaders understand how this generation is driving innovation and business environments that will help businesses remain relevant in the future.

This year’s lineup of presenters begins with keynoter Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive Festival, who will share what SXSW has done to expand the traditionally unstructured aspect of the creative festival by adding related yet structured events to the mix, Shomer said.

SXSW started as a small music festival in 1987 with 700 or so registered attendees and now has 28,000 conference participants. Along the way, organizers added a film and interactive component for these high-tech growth industries—a component that this year drew 51,000 attendees.

Forrest will address how SXSW finds and uses various technologies, including social media, to demonstrate the management and leadership skills that are useful for future events.

On the second day, the Leadership Conference features a Keynote CEO panel of trade show industry veterans who will share what they look for when deciding how, when and why to reward employees with promotions and increased responsibilities, Shomer said. That session, dubbed “Climbing the Ladder,” will be moderated by Don Pazour, CEO of Access Intelligence and includes panelists Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX, Charles McCurdy, board member for 5Net4 Productions and Rich McConnell, president of Informa Exhibitions U.S.

They’ll also share personal stories of how they got to C-level positions and how they are developing the next generation of leaders in their own organizations.

A session called “Partnering with your Contractors to Create Great Events, Improve the Customer Experience and Save Money” will be moderated by Galen Poss, vice chairman, dmg::events; and include panelists Aaron Bludworth, president and CEO of Fern; Albert Chew, president of expositions for Freeman; and Tony Calanca, executive vice president of exhibitions for UBM Advanstar.

Another panel will address “The Millennial Mystery Machine: What They Really Want as Employees, Attendees and Exhibitors.” Moderated by Lawrence Dvorchik, senior vice president of events at AIQ Inc., it also includes Amber Aziza, founder and chief millennial officer of The Aziza Group; and Katie Brewer, CPF and financial coach, of Your Richest Life.

That session will address the marketing and advertising methods that attract millennials; what makes millennials happy in the workplace; and how social media influences millennial customers.

The Leadership Conference is set for August 3-5 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas. This year, SISO also has invited some members of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) to attend because of the emphasis on the “younger professionals, leadership tools and management tools that are generic to the industry,” Shomer said.

Reach Lew Shomer at (310) 450-8831 ext. 2; or

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