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INTERVIEW

“More women’s leadership events”

Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, talks about women not feeling they’ve been equally treated, the importance of women role models and her “extreme mentorship” as daughter of Ray Bloom.

tw: Together with tw tagungswirtschaft and m+a report you conducted the survey “Women in the event and meeting industry”. Which result did surprise or frustrate you most?
Carina Bauer: One result that I was particularly pleased with was that 66% of women said that they loved their job, with 32% saying it’s ok. That means only 2% of our respondents are unhappy in their job and the industry – that’s a great endorsement for the industry and for women’s role in the industry. Surprising, or frustrating, is the response that only three in ten women feel that they’ve been equally treated regarding salary. And, six in ten didn’t feel that their career prospects are equal to those open to men. Many commented on the number of women in the industry as a whole, relative to the number of women in leadership positions, and it’s this aspect that we probably need to work on most as a collective.

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FOTO: IMEX GROUP

Every second woman does not feel equally treated to her male colleagues in terms of salary and career opportunities. What can we do about it?
I suspect that there are multiple reasons why women gave this answer to the question and our respondents are working for a variety of companies across the world. So, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution is unlikely to work. Certainly, I believe that women role models in the industry are important – younger generations need to see women in leadership positions to be able to aspire to these positions – in the same way as men have been able to do for generations. Young women who aspire to leadership, need to see that it is possible to have a family and a career (if this is their desired choice) – they need to be able to learn from others about the pros and cons – the do’s and don’ts – of these choices. I don’t believe that strict quotas are the answer, but I do believe that better publicity and more women’s leadership events which allow women to develop their networks and talk openly about challenges and opportunities that are important. I also think that we need to recognize and accept that women approach leadership, working life and family life in different ways to men. This is not a bad thing – we just often have a different approach and we need to be more accepting and supportive of each other and provide mentorship to those who need it. The fact that almost double the number of women said that they preferred a male boss (14%) to those who prefer a female boss (8%) shows that we still have a long way to go in removing our own inherent stereotypes about ourselves!

Two thirds believe that our industry would benefit from more female leaders. Do you agree?
Yes, I do. As I explained above, providing role models and mentorship is a very important step in allowing a younger generation of future leaders to be able to picture themselves in those positions and aspire to them. In addition, I believe that women bring outstanding qualities of emotional intelligence and a humble approach to leadership that is missing in many boardrooms.


We asked: “If you think of female leaders in our industry: Which name comes to your mind?” For quite a number of women it was your name: Carina Bauer. Do you have an idea why?

Well, of course, this is an “IMEX-tw“ survey, so to a degree it is a loaded question! However, I know that I am also in a privileged position because IMEX is a very well-known brand and my name is often in the press. Perhaps what it shows most is the need to publicize women in leadership positions across the industry – be that at the head of a company or of a division so that the names and faces of a multitude of women leaders is top of mind for people and it is not simply just one or two women that are named in a survey like this. I’ve seen that AWE (Association for Women in Events) has just launched a Women in Events Hall of Fame, which is a great step forward in this regard.

You do an excellent job, but do you believe that you would be CEO of IMEX Group, if you were not the daughter of its Founder and Chairman Ray Bloom?
It’s a good question. I know that being the daughter of the Founder of IMEX has obviously given me an outstanding opportunity; but being the CEO was never a ‘fait-accompli’. I joined IMEX in a middle management position and learnt from the ‘bottom-up’, before becoming the CEO. Part of the opportunity was one of what I’d call ‘extreme mentorship’ – being the daughter of a hands-on Founder and Chairman meant that I had tremendous exposure to the decision-making process across the business from an early point in my career and gave me a fast and broad understanding of the business and the sector. However, my learning and development was always still in my hands – it was up to me to listen, learn and apply that knowledge; and ultimately be willing to work hard and take responsibility. However, the knowledge that comes with having worked right across the company and business now gives me great confidence in making the right decisions going forward.

CARINA BAUER...



... is CEO of the IMEX Group. She entered the meetings industry in 2002 as Marketing and Operations Director for the IMEX exhibition in Frankfurt. Following the launch of the IMEX brand into America in 2009, Carina was appointed CEO of the IMEX Group. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of the business.
www.imexexhibitions.com

Does the IMEX Group as an employer actively support women in leadership positions?

At IMEX, the majority of our leadership team are women, so from that perspective we certainly support women in leadership positions. For us we look to promote or hire the best person for a job and don’t take into account their gender. In terms of the support we offer, this is mostly a flexible approach to work-life balance and treating our staff – be they men or women – as individuals to try to work out the best working solution for them. I believe that this has allowed us to retain many women to have families and still take senior positions with us.

What advice do you have for women who look for an international career in the meeting industry?
Despite improvements that we know could be made, on the whole, the meetings industry is an incredibly welcoming industry for women. However, our industry is not one that runs nine to five, Monday to Friday so whatever a person’s aspirations are in terms of leadership they need to know that the hours of work are not necessarily going to fit neatly into these boundaries. So long as people understand this and are passionate about their work, then there is no reason why women cannot get to the very top of this profession.

How do you juggle your job and your family life with two young children?
Mainly with the help of my husband who takes on at least an equal share of childcare to me (he would probably say he does more!); as well as a lot of help from grandparents at key times!

On 17 May 2017 women are invited to the Pink hour@IMEX at tw-Stand G180. In a tweet: Why should women meet and talk?
To extend your network – find a mentor – inspire a young leader or just to relax and enjoy yourself with a glass of wine and a friendly chat with peers!   
INTERVIEW: KERSTIN WÜNSCH
 
“At IMEX the majority of our leadership team are women.”
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