Lori Pugh Marcum, CMP, CMM, HMCC, Manager of Global Education and Event Production, MPI Academy of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), about working mums, She Means Business, the secret to balancing career and family and female talent.
tw: Event management is the fifth most stressful career in the world (Forbes, 2017). How does MPI help its 17,000 members to deal with stress and to find a work-life-balance? Lori Pugh Marcum: MPI continues to support our member in their quests to create a work life balance through multiple channels such as webinars, blogs, articles, and live event education. At WEC this year in Toronto, we brought in “Lee Papa's Mindfulness Lounge”, which gave our attendees an opportunity to participate in 15-minute meditations throughout the conference as well as a quiet lounge area for reflection and relaxation. We strive to create supportive and inclusive environments where members can collaborate and share best practices on how to excel in their careers and personal lives.
It is a no brainer, that women with children are in particular challenged. What can the meeting and event industry do about it? As a working mother, I understand the challenges first hand. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home, which helps me balance my family’s needs with my career. The key to success is flexibility in employee schedules, empathy of their situations, and trust that employees will be able to fulfil their job expectations.
For the first She Means Business conference at IMEX America you are running the session “Women in Event, The Sandwich Generation: Balancing Career and Family”. How did you come up with this idea? While speaking with colleagues in the industry about my challenges balancing motherhood, aging parental care, and career, I found that so many of my peers were experiencing similar challenges. I brought up to the idea to Dale Hudson, Knowledge and Events Director at IMEX Group, and she shared that she was in the same season of life as I am. That’s where the vision for this session grew, and the collaboration with the panelists has been amazing.
You have put a lot of work and discussions with the session questions and the format. Why do you care? I am passionate about creating real, authentic conversations and experiences for our industry. We have so much to learn from each other, but it is often hard to be vulnerable in asking for help or resources. This panel of amazing career women constitutes trailblazers in our industry who are setting wonderful examples of how we can rally together to improve our work and life balance.
How can a session about “Balancing Career and Family” help? Participants won’t simply listen to panelists. There will be real-life, tangible takeaways that can be implemented right away and attendee audience engagement that enables solutions to personal and professional challenges.
Why do you see a need for She Means Business America? She Means Business has created an amazing platform in Europe and the hunger for this kind of engagement and empowerment is relevant and timely for North America. This is an opportunity for women to come together to see how we can encourage and learn from each other, instead of standing divided.
Lori Pugh Marcum, CMP, CMM, HMCC, is Manager of Global Education and Event Production MPI Academy of Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Founded in 1972, MPI provides education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI has a global community of 60,000 meeting professionals including 17,000+ members in 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries. www.mpiweb.org
Which employers in the meeting industry come to your mind when you think about a new world of work? I’m so honored to work for Meeting Professionals International, where I can work remotely and still thrive and grow in my career. Quite frankly, working from home, I get so much more work done without the distractions of the traditional office. Through Zoom Meetings, I connect with my team via video conferencing every day, and I am part of a cohesive team and organization.
According to the international survey “Women in the meeting industry” 58.61% of women believe that "career breaks due to maternity leave" have the strongest influence on a woman’s ability to progress in her career. Do you agree? When I had my daughter, I simply couldn’t afford to take a long maternity leave. I was given up to three months of unpaid leave that as a single mother, I financially couldn’t afford to take. I used two weeks of paid vacation, two weeks of unpaid leave and was back to work four weeks after having a caesarian section delivery. Had I been in a situation to be able to take time off, then I would have enjoyed doing so. I think the strongest influence on women’s ability to progress is their ability to be seen as strategic leaders and communicate their value proposition to their company.
54.91% of the respondents state that there was or will be a moment in life when they had to or will have to choose between a career and a family. Does this surprise you? This doesn’t surprise me at all. I know that I could move up more quickly in my career if I could relocate to different cities. I have, however, made a commitment to make sure that I stay in the same city as my daughter’s father so that she can maintain a close relationship with him. I will be able to take career opportunities that require relocation when the timing is right. Sometimes “no” to opportunities is really just a “not right now.”
Some women manage to balance career and children. From your observation, what is their secret? The secret to balancing career and family is the ebb and flow of balancing both. There are times where you need to focus on one more than the other, but if you openly communicate, you will see that both family and companies are willing to work with you.
#WarForTalent: Do you think that the meetings industry risks to lose female talents if the working environment doesn’t change? The employment market is booming in North America, and job options are vast. Not only will companies lose female talent, they will lose all employee talent if there isn’t a level of flexibility and mutual respect for the needs of both the employee and the organization. Flexibility doesn’t mean less work or revenue. It just means that work may not be done during the traditional work day. In my five years with MPI, I think I have produced the best quality and quantity of work in my 15-year career.
“Sometimes ‘no’ to opportunities is really just a ‘not right now’.”
Lori Pugh Marcum, Manager of Global Education and Event Production, MPI Academy of Meeting Professionals International (MPI)