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Understanding the Value of Face-time over Factoids

Heather Wakefield and Lindsay Currie are two Changemakers from the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society are making impactful changes to their conference that build community and connections.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.


Heather Wakefield

Senior Manager, Education & Events
Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society

Lindsay Currie

Director of Stakeholder Engagement
Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society 

For leading changes in their annual conference format to boost collaboration and facilitate meaningful connections and community



Making Change
Currie: Our goal is to create an event that facilitates a community network. We want our attendees to walk away with solutions, connections, and inspiration that won’t fade away the moment they step off the plane. The value of getting together as a community is not to distribute factoids but to learn from others so participants can better handle the things keeping them up at night. We started work in 2017 to tackle a handful of things that would have the biggest impact on the highest number of attendees at our 2018 Regulatory Affairs Professional Society Regulatory Convergence annual conference. For example, we flipped our opening session on its head, from a disconnected, expensive keynote to one in which a community-connections expert talked about the value of coming together as a community. We also introduced small-group, facilitated conversations that focused on attendees’ biggest pain points. People left these sessions with immediately implementable solutions. Another big change: We helped newbies feel welcome with a facilitated, first-timers guided tour.

What’s Next?
Wakefield: I think in the event space, the role of a meeting planner has evolved to that of a meeting designer, and it is now more critical than ever to take a broader and more strategic approach and to experiment with new formats. I took the PCMA Digital Event Strategist course because we are currently addressing options for evolving the conference to become a hybrid event. We are interested in allowing a remote audience to participate in some of what is happening at the live event but also have their own unique experiences. 

Thinking Differently
Currie: I think I’ve always thought a bit differently, but for a long time, I’m not sure I understood why others looked at me funny. A mentor recently introduced me as a disruptor, but I had never thought of myself that way, as my approach is not one where I come in with a jackhammer. But after giving it some thought, I realized he was right. I am not good with the status quo; I want the world to move forward, and you need change to do that. 

Best Business Advice
Wakefield: It’s not really business advice, but this quote has always stuck with me: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I use that idea to center myself in my current approach to business.

Advice for Peers
Currie: As they’re working through new challenges, I often remind my peers to be flexible. Things are never going to turn out perfect or end up how you thought they would, but that doesn’t mean they won’t turn out great. Don’t be blind to alternative success.

BACK TO THE FULL LIST OF 2019 CHANGEMAKERS

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