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Michael Mahoney of Genentech presenting to hundreds of medical-event planners at Pharma Forum in 2019.

Medical-Planner Conference Set to Open in Boston

Genentech’s senior director of strategic events provides unique insight on next week’s Pharma Forum, which he’s attending for the 16th time.

With the 17th annual Pharma Forum conference for medical-event planners set to take place at the Boston Renaissance Seaport Hotel on September 21 and 22, followed by the online version on September 23 and 24, MeetingsNet caught up with a veteran planner who is a mainstay of the show—and now a chairperson of the event.

Michael P. Mahoney, HMCC, is senior director of strategic event services at Genentech, where he leads
a team of more than 20 people in the execution of meetings, congresses, and speaker programs. He’s one of three industry chairpersons for the Pharma Forum 2021 and will participate in a general-session panel discussion on September 21 for in-person attendees and September 24 for virtual attendees.

Here are his thoughts on attending one of his favorite industry events at such a tumultuous time for the entire meetings and events segment.

What issues do you think Pharma Forum’s attendees will most want to discuss when they gather in person in late September?  
Michael Mahoney: Most attendees will not have seen each other in a live setting for more than two years, so there’s a strong desire to connect face-to-face with peers to learn from each other at a critical moment. Specifically, we’ll be looking to enhance the new skill sets that we’ve been building over these past 18 months of pandemic. Attendees will want to hear about best practices as well as pitfalls and things to watch out for. Also, I think we’re all looking to partner with suppliers so that the highest levels of engagement and cooperation are possible at our events as we navigate constantly changing scenarios for how those events will take place.

Which sessions at Pharma Forum are you most looking forward to attending, and why?
Michael Mahoney: Personally, I am very excited about all of the wellness sessions. While the Covid pandemic has been hard on everyone, there are few professions that have been as strongly impacted as that of meeting and event planning.

MM0921PFmikemahoney2.jpegHow many times have you attended Pharma Forum before this year? And what benefits do you feel you gain from attending the event?
Michael Mahoney: Well, I was at the very first one, and have missed only one year. So this will be my 16th time attending.

This show is definitely one of the most beneficial educational events for life-sciences planners because it brings together a broad swath of leaders in the profession and provides all of us an opportunity to network with both peers and suppliers. What I always want to achieve is to find a few best practices that I can bring back to my company; to network and meet new peers each day; and to find new solutions, be it with a hotel or another type of supplier. If I've done that, then my ROI is clearly very positive.

Is there anything else about the show that you think potential attendees should know, to help them understand the value of the experience either in person or online?
Michael Mahoney: I like the power of connecting with folks both during and beyond the show. If you're sitting in a session and someone on stage (or from the audience, for that matter) is saying something that you like, you can connect with them right there and also add them to your roster of LinkedIn contacts to maintain a conversation. Using that connection after the show to help you solve emerging business problems is so valuable. And in my experience, meeting and event planners are very generous with their time and advice.

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