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Women of Influence: Carol McGury

Making the meetings industry case to millennials.

The meetings industry has long been dominated by women, but across 2018 and 2019 it seems to have set a new standard: Women were elected to the top spots at six major industry organizations. We recently sat down with each them to hear how they’re tackling the industry’s biggest problems—and what they’ve learned along their journeys. Click on each person's name and read her story.

• Amanda Armstrong, CMP
• Patricia V. Blake, FASAE, CAE
• Claire Smith, CMP
• Carol McGury
• Nancy Lindemer
• Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CITP, CMP

Carol McGury

Leadership role: Incoming Chair, Professional Convention Management Association Education Foundation 

Day job: Executive Vice President, Event & Education Services, SmithBucklin

Her take on the industry: Attracting young talent. Carol McGury will tell you that is her number-one focus as she takes on the role of chair of the PCMA Education Foundation, which helps provide funding for scholarships, grants, industry research, and community engagement activities. McGury points to one recent PCMA study, done in partnership with Marriott, which identified five big-picture influences for future events: emotional intelligence (which will force business events to adopt a proactive approach to personalize experiences); orchestrated serendipity (creating experiences that are designed to engage, delight, and surprise audiences); multimodal design (creating spaces that adapt to the many different ways participants will engage); being bigger than oneself (helping meeting participants understand how they fit in to a broader business message); and clear sense of place (connecting meeting participants to local culture and surroundings). 

Moving forward, McGury says, the Foundation will use findings like these to help members design more meaningful events—and also elevate the role of meeting planners to “experience designers.” 

“The more we can energize people around creating value and experiences for customers, the more we can show our value and excite people about our profession,” she says. “At SmithBucklin, I personally work with about 100 planners, many of whom are Millennials,” she adds. “They are getting the message that the meetings industry is a cutting-edge place to work.”

Because of the industry’s recent focus on diversity and inclusion, McGury says she doesn’t see any specific challenges for women who are looking to move up the ranks. “I think with the industry embracing diversity in general, it’s a great time for anybody to join in,” she says.

Fun Fact: “I love karaoke,” McGury says. She says some of her colleagues were recently surprised when they were at a party in Chicago and she got up on stage with her coworkers and belted out her best rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” “I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a good singer,” she says, “but I love the camaraderie of it all.”

Read more leadership stories: 
• Amanda Armstrong, CMP
• Patricia V. Blake, FASAE, CAE
• Claire Smith, CMP
• Nancy Lindemer
• Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CITP, CMP


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