Jon Trask sits down with Dale Hudson, the Knowledge and Events Director previews this year’s IMEX America education program.
Jon: Welcome back to the podcast, today we are here with Dale Hudson for IMEX and IMEX America and Dale welcome back to the show.
Dale: Thank you Jon it is good to be back.
Jon: And we have talked now for the past few years about education you and I, I think this is probably the 3rd year that we have had this conversation. So I am really glad to have you back on the program and excited to be working with IMEX again. We were talking a little bit before we started and just talking about the design and the process behind putting a show like this together the educational components. So maybe let’s start there.
Dale: Right, okay well IMEX is obviously a unique model, we start off on Monday with a full day of education and that is put together predominantly by our strategic partner MPI so they offer most of that education on that day. We also work with other associations on Smart Monday to make sure we have a full rounded program. So new for this year will be PCMA doing their business school, then we have CITE, ISS, HSMAI and GMIC so all those associations are offering all their expertise to make sure people get exactly what they need within the different areas. There is also association focus taking place under the Smart Monday banner and that is where all the association buyers can get some unique education to help them get what they need for their roles. So, once Monday is through, we then of course go into the IMEX exhibition show days so that is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So what we try and do is we then try and bring mostly education all onto the show floor so that people have the opportunity to get some short education, they also can do their business appointments which is obviously the point of IMEX to connect people, they get to do their networking, so it is giving them a little bit of everything throughout the 3 days of the show but it isn’t taking them away from their business appointments and then their networking opportunities.
Jon: Right, I know that was something that has been of great interest to me I actually was lucky enough to participate in a couple of sessions for IMEX last year and just having that availability of the educational tracks right there on the floor, so you aren’t pulling the audience out of the room you are keeping them where they need to be and where they need to be networking and doing those appointments but still giving them an opportunity to learn and not just do those other pieces and I think that that is a really good blend, I think it is a nice format that you have set up. And on the idea of formatting, you have a number of tracks, I think including some new tracks this year, right?
Dale: We do that is right. So, all of our tracks are designed hopefully to help people within their roles, within their jobs and just sort of working towards learning a little bit more while you are away from the office. So, this year we have a senior planner track which is something that I think is very much needed, I have been in the industry myself more than sort of 18 years and often I feel I need this. And so this is what we are offering throughout the 3 days of the show so people are able to get that a little bit unique education and the sort of, sort of session that we have within the senior planner track will be small business owners become a marketing black belt, you know really giving them specific help on different needs that they might have. There is also the new planners pet beefs you know things like relieve which is quite important for people to know, cool toast to help you do your work. So it is all more effective working just to help senior planners in their busy days and we know that they have those. So that is what we are looking at then there is also the Diversity track and within diversity we are looking at a bit of women in leadership, generational issues, LGBT, so we are looking at this whole area that adds value to a company. And that is where we are looking at it, we are looking at it from a business perspective, why is it better for your business to encompass a large, diverse range of people? So it is that where we are coming from with that then of course we have the business skills tracks, wellbeing and health, sustainability, technology, social media which is a huge area now you know people can’t get enough of that. We have research and trends, creative learning, which is another one that I absolutely love, because I believe that if you have some level of fun and some level of play, you are a more creative person. And you know that is just a personal perspective but I believe that when I have a little bit more of fun, different way of thinking, new ideas come to me and I think creative play is definitely one that can help us with that. And then there is marketing communications and risk management, so there is a lot of areas that people can focus on, take a real interest in and even with the sustainability we have broke that down into different sections so if waste is an issue for you, you can focus on that piece within the education. So we have broken all the sustainability into different areas of accommodation, waste, energy so anywhere where you are needing help, you can focus on those sessions and target yourself to those sessions.
Jon: And again these are particularly the ones on the floor are very time constrained, they are set into a short period of time so you can fit it in to your schedule and be able to find out something about waste or social media or?
Dale: That is right, yes so the sustainability sessions are half an hour so that fits into your appointment schedule so you are able to sit and say okay I am going to do three appointments in the morning, I am going to do a lunch time education session, and I am going to do another three or four appointments in the afternoon. So you are able to sort of work out your day and figure that out because your appointment of course is half an hour. So everything is in half an hour slot so it should be easy enough to figure that out. Of course the seminar sessions which are the biggest sessions on the inspiration centre, they go for 45 minutes so you would have to allow one hour for those sessions if you are going to plan your day.
Jon: Which gives you walking time and agenda time for a cup of coffee or something as well?
Dale: Yeah, so even just you know have some time with the speaker I think sometimes you know that is missed and I always love to be able to talk to the speaker instead of you know there is always questions you don’t want to ask in front of everybody, for me anyway and it is nice to have five or so minutes afterwards just to go and ask those questions that you need answered.
Jon: Those are kind of the tracks in the overall design and then we have talked about Smart Monday and I think one of the things that I want to mention is the fact that this is all free, anyone can attend these sessions and that it is just as resource that you have available to you by simply coming to IMEX and that is amazing!
Dale: Yeah, I think it is and you are right that people are able to I mean they aren’t possibly during the show days you aren’t going to get that huge depth but you are definitely going to get some quality learning and I think that that is important in your career and forever. I believe in learning, I believe that we never ever know everything, so there is always something you can pick up from different educational sessions.
Jon: And that is like when we were talking about some of the senior planners sessions I was thinking even if you aren’t a senior planner talking about pet beefs for example, if you are a supplier what a great place to go to learn what these people who are your customers are talking about they don’t like.
Dale: Very much though, yes, you can pick up a good few tips though I should think.
Jon: It is a way to be able to check out educational offerings even within segments of the industry that don’t directly affect you but can enhance your abilities within your job by being aware of.
Dale: That is right and of course then this is the hot topics as well on the show floor and that allows people to actually do peer to peer learning and I am another big fan of peer to peer learning because you can just sit in a room with somebody for five minutes and think ‘oh my goodness I have learnt five things from just a general conversation!’ and the idea of the hot topics is to focus a topic but to allow that conversation to happen and to allow people to learn from each other. So, again you know on the show floor there are seminars sessions, there is hot topics, there is meet the experts so you can make an appointment one to one with an expert and go and actually find out something. Or for instance career balance, you can go and talk to professionals, you can sit and they give you some sage and wise advice to help you with these things. It is a sort of mini mentorship it isn’t a full mentorship but at least that allows you to speak to that person who can help you with a few of the issues that you might be having in your career, so a lot of opportunity.
Jon: Tremendous amount of education, I know we should mention as well that all of these sessions are now listed on the website.
Dale: They are, yes, it isn’t 100% there yet but it will be in about 2 to 3 weeks I would think but I would say 80% is all up on the website now.
Jon: So, but that is a good reason to keep checking back as the show approaches.
Jon: So you can go in there and there is like a search function within the educational events and you can look things up by track, you can find various ways to find the types of sessions you are looking for.
Dale: That is right.
Jon: And I think really the last thing we are going to talk about on the education was the keynote sessions because as they have been in previous years and we are going to be talking to many of these people on the podcast if not all of them individually. So we have a lot more information about them. But overall you do have some very powerful keynote speakers coming in each morning.
Dale: We do Jon and it is very exciting, some of the topics I love them because they are very much for personal growth and our first day on Monday is Steve Gross and he is going to be talking how Joy and optimism ignite the best in us and I think that that is very, very prevalent. Then we have James Sun on Tuesday and he is going to be saying color does matter and it is the truth in the 21st century. So he is looking at diversity and the importance that diversity brings to an organization and the value that it can bring to an organization. And then we have John Spence and he is talking about the fundamentals of excellence, so that is looking at turning staff into a high performance team. So that is very practical, it is really getting to how do you do this, how can we help you to get there? And Wendy Booker is on Thursday and she is going to be talking about how I get by with a little help from my friends and that is all about team work, she is talking about things in life are a lot harder if you don’t do it with some help and I think we all know those but sometimes we need to be reminded and also helping us to sort of figure out ways to bring teams together and partnerships and working together and how can we do that best.
Jon: Bring the strings out in to these people that are molded together.
Dale: Yes that is right. So a lot of choice there and I hope that people can get some real sort of heartfelt learning from this.
Jon: Well it is just such a great program and the fact that it is there as a part of IMEX and available to everyone, I think it is tremendous what it does for the industry and having that available and having the cooperation of all these different associations and partners that you have to bring all this stuff together in one place and present it to people so they have the full gamut of education. So thank you for all the work that you are doing with IMEX.
Dale: No, it is wonderful, I enjoy it, I am lucky, I am passionate, yes what more could someone ask for? Thanks Jon.
Jon: Well, thank you for being on the podcast today and I am sure we will see you at IMEX in October in Las Vegas.
Dale: Thank you.