We have a fabulous guest today! We’re honored to be speaking to another icon in the industry, Carina Bauer, the CEO of IMEX. Carina works in Europe, at IMEX Frankfurt, and also in the US, at IMEX America, in Las Vegas. She is a role model for everyone in the industry, especially the women.
Carina is with us on the show today to discuss the role of women in leadership, particularly the women who are involved in the industry.
Carina graduated from college in 1998. She then joined her father in a new business that he had set up. It was a small chain of coffee shops and, together, they grew the business into a chain throughout the south-east of the UK over the next three years. The business was sold in 2001 and Carina took a break while deciding what she wanted to do next.
At that time, Carina’s father was preparing to launch IMEX in Frankfurt.
Carina returned from her break in the middle of 2002. One of the members of the IMEX team had just fallen ill, so Carina was asked to come in and help out for a few months. She agreed, only intending to work there until the launch of IMEX in Frankfort, in September, after which she wanted to leave to do an MBA. But she never left.
Growing up in the world of events
Her father had launched EIBTM in the mid-80s, so, as a child, Carina went to EIBTM in Geneva every year. And her family’s summer holidays were spent in the US, usually going to different conferences.
So Carina became used to attending business events. She enjoyed them, and without realizing it at the time, she was also learning.
Starting with IMEX
Carina entered the business looking after all their special projects, like the Future Leaders Forum, the Wild Card Initiative, and programs like the Association Day Education. She also did all the company’s marketing.
Over the next few years, she learned about the other elements of the business. Around the time that IMEX was launched in America, in 2009, she transitioned to being a CEO.
Carina’s advice for people working with family members
Carina has always worked fairly easily with her father.
She thinks that it helps to separate things a little and to leave your personal circumstances at the door, in a work situation. She points out that when working with a family member, the politics are different, so it’s possible to be very honest, open, and transparent, and things can get done very quickly. This can make for a very successful working relationship.
Creating gender equality in the industry
Currently, the proportion of women working in the industry is very high, but the number of women in leadership positions is very low, comparatively.
The business events industry is open and welcoming when compared with other industries and that is positive for women. However, Carina still feels that gender equality needs to be addressed within the industry because there is a lot of subliminal behavior there that counters women’s ambitions.
Carina believes that people in the industry would do well to understand that what women need to promote them and help them develop their confidence is different from what men need. And she thinks that it is important that the women who are in positions of leadership step up and become role models, or mentors for other women. Even though the industry is not inherently biased, Carina feels that this will take some time to develop, however.
Women have a lot of emotional intelligence and skills to bring to leadership positions. And those qualities are just as valuable as the qualities that are perceived as more traditionally male.
Many women still feel that they have to play to the old stereotypes. And that can hold them back because it’s hard to be a good leader if you are not able to be authentically who you are.
Working on both sides of the pound
It has been said that The UK and the US are two countries separated by the same language.
When IMEX America was launched, Carina and her team thought that they knew the marketplace because they were working with Americans all the time, but they still experienced a culture shock.
Many words are used in different ways, even on a basic level. And there is also a big difference in the way that British people and Americans use humor.
Carina also noticed that Americans are very proactive and optimistic. They want to get things done and they give a lot of feedback. She found that a bit hard to deal with at first, but it worked out well in the end because it was so constructive.
Navigating cultural differences
IMEX used formal training, using CultureActive resources, to help its team to navigate the cultural differences. From a structured perspective, Carina recommends using CultureActive.
She also recommends asking lots of questions, and not becoming defensive or making assumptions when working with different cultures.
Leadership skills and COVID-19
This is the time of maximum impact for organizations in the industry. The choices that are made by business leaders right now are fundamental, and they show a lot about who the leaders are, as people, and how they lead.
IMEX has always taken its responsibility as a company very seriously to ensure that the exhibitors who are, in essence, funding what the company does, have a return on their investment. They have also done their best to limit any damage to their investors and their supplier ecosystem.
Looking at the future
Carina is optimistic about the future because she believes that the fundamental, underlying value of the business meetings industry has not gone away. She knows that face-to-face is still the most productive way of communicating brand values, sharing research, transferring knowledge, and motivating staff and clients.
She believes that people want to meet again, look at each other in the eye, and shake one another’s hands or hug each other. So she feels that the long-term prospects of the industry are still very solid and very sound.
These long-term prospects can only be realized, however, once people are comfortable, and once the current health situation has been brought under control.
You can find us at www.eventbusinessformula.com
You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebusinessofmeetings/
IMEX Group – https://www.imexexhibitions.com
CultureActive – https://secure.cultureactive.com/
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