Networking is our core business Image 1


"Networking is our core business"

In 2014, Messe München celebrated its 50th birthday, and in 2015, i.e. the 51st year of its existence, a woman made it to the company's executive board: Monika Dech. She more or less on the side provides a basis for women to unite in a female manager network.

e connect people," said Monika Dech in response to the question about the purpose of an expo company, "and we connect people with businesses. Networking is our core business. We not only bring together supply and demand, businesses and academia, economics and politics but also primarily people and their ideas." The initiative "Frauen verbinden [connect women]" is for her more than just the continuation of the company's business objective. "We use the contacts of Messe München to merge them into our personal networks." Her objective is to create a platform for women from all these sectors to enable them to interact and support each other over and beyond particular subject areas. A heartfelt wish for Monika Dech; what began with a casual invitation to the Octoberfest has matured into a wellfunctioning top-level system. Some 500 women are currently organized in the network established by Dech and the entrepreneur Margit Dittrich.

Networking is our core business Image 2
Monika Dech studied law and joined Messe München in 1990 shortly after final graduation.

And this initiative has its particular charm: the stimulus to connect women with each other is that they all need to mentally leave their particular business environments, step outside the Inner Circle. "We want to learn from and support each other, find inspiration, think outside the box of our own industries and jobs and engage in interdisciplinary communication." The look outside the box is in Messe München's DNA – and in that of Frauen verbinden as well. And accordingly the initiative has a high degree of relevance for the expo company. It highlights another expo company facet and further polishes its image, as it enables the expo company to position itself as attractive employer for women. The commitment of deputy managing director Monika Dech gives Messe München yet another appealing quality.

She knows well how important mindful interaction is with co-workers and customers. Her convictions, she said, are based on working with people, on attitude, on leadership. "Or else I wouldn't be where I am today." She was greatly influenced by a positive concept of humanity. "People are willing to give a whole lot more if you take them seriously." For Dech, who advanced from project manager to deputy managing director, that's a crucial matter, perhaps even the most significant one.


Oana Cipca is Business Development Manager- International Exhibitions at MECC Maastricht. She founded the „Women in Exhibitions Network“ in November 2017. She can be contacted at o.cipca@ MECC
Oana Cipca is Business Development Manager- International Exhibitions at MECC Maastricht. She founded the „Women in Exhibitions Network“ in November 2017. She can be contacted at o.cipca@
Women in the exhibition industry have a lot to say, thinks Oana Cipca. To give them a stronger voice, she founded the 
Women in Exhibitions Network

You founded the “Women in Exhibitions Network” that had its first meeting in March. What was the trigger for you to start the network?
Women continue to be under-represented in senior positions in many fields. They make up nearly half of the workforce in the EU, yet we are not there, we are invisible. I realized during the Ufi congress in South Africa last year, how many men represent their companies in boards at Ufi and almost all speakers at the congress were men. It can’t be that women in our industry have nothing to say. I engaged in some discussions with the women present at the congress and I appeared not to be the only woman recognizing this aspect. I tested the idea of setting up a network that relates to exactly this aspect and I was amazed about the many positive reactions that I received.

What was the feedback you received, when you first shared your idea and started to invite women to join the network?
I am very lucky to have very entrepreneurial colleagues at MECC Maastricht and the idea was embraced immediately. As it was a first event, we did not know what to expect. I underestimated myself the success of it and was surprised about the positive reactions. We had 35 women registered for the event in March but I only had place for 15 women. I rather have many small events where women truly connect than large events where the networking vanishes in the amount of content. Often, we can learn from one another by simply having the opportunity to share. Unfortunately, there are always people perceiving the Women in Exhibitions Network as superfluous. They don’t grasp the wider influence this network could entail.

What are the next steps you have planned for the network?
In the coming period I am organizing a team of women that will help me further set up this network and I am open to working together with other initiatives promoting women.

From your personal perspective: What are the biggest challenges for women in the exhibition industry? How can the network support women and help to overcome these?
There is still some outdated perception of the different roles of men and women in life and in work. There should be a shift in women’s attitude and culture to support change. I believe role models, mentors and networks can be used to promote the advancement of women. Talented women should take on the challenge. Often I wonder, whether it is that we are too busy with our daily tasks to spend some time to position ourselves and make visible what we actually do in our industry. This is why Women in Exhibitions Network came alive. I like to show the world that specific people actually are running our industry. What we want to achieve is not only visibility for women, we want to generate a voice to exhibitions directors, operations managers, business development and marketing professionals as well as all the wonderful colleagues in the service provision area. Our goals is to inspire people, specifically women, to want to share what their contribution is to our industry.

Advancement of women is an important issue to Messe München. "Our female colleagues at all levels contribute significantly to our company's success," she said and points out that there are numerous women at the higher hierarchy levels of project managers and business unit directors. "Those that are determined to make their way up mostly do." Messe München has also arranged for a flexitime work program enabling women to return to work.

Monika Dech and Messe München also try to activate this network at individual expos. They connect women at the Ispo as well as at the Bauma, Ifat or Drinktec. Nevertheless, even though the network is not open to all. "It simply has to fit." The founders Monika Dech and Margit Dittrich apply this approach to assure that the diverse topics and issues are balanced and to prevent any single professional group from dominating the initiative. "We're a closed community on equal footing."  CHRISTIANE APPEL


Sichtbar werden

Digital Media Women (#DMW)

arbeiten für mehr Sichtbarkeit von Frauen
auf allen Bühnen – ob bei Konferenzen, Medien oder im Management. Alles beginnt mit einem Tweet auf der „Next“ Konferenz: Journalistin Carolin Neumann ärgert sich über die vielen männlichen Speaker – nicht nur sie. Schnell finden sich acht Mitstreiterinnen und gründen #DMW. 2018 sind es 125 Ehrenamtliche und 19.000 Community- Mitglieder, die sich auf zahlreichen Netzwerk- Events treffen.


Join us: Equality Lounges

Founded by Shelley Zalis, The Female Quotient (TFQ) aims to advance gender equality in the workplace.

Today, through The Female Quotient, Zalis is advancing gender equality across many industries and career levels. Her Equality Lounges and Girls’ Lounges are pop-up experiences at conferences and exhibitions across the globe, providing a place for women to connect, to emphasize collaboration and mentorship.

Upcoming dates in 2018 and 2019: Cannes Lions in Cannes (18 – 21 June 2018), dmexco in Cologne (12/13 September 2018), Advertising Week in New York (1 – 4 October 2018), ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando (24 – 26 October 2018), Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (8 – 11 January 2019) and The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos (23 – 25 January 2019).


Regionale Netzwerktreffen

Der Ladies’ Business Club (LBC) ist eine Networking-Plattform für Travel- und Meeting-Managerinnen. Die 800 Mitglieder des Ladies Business Club treffen sich zwei Mal im Jahr zum Netzwerken und Austausch in deutschen Städten wie Berlin und Leipzig, Hamburg, Frankfurt und München und neuerdings auch Basel. Gastgeber sind die H-Hotels. Die Treffen am Abend beginnen mit einer Aktivität oder einem Vortrag wie im Frühjahr 2018 „Frauen in der Eventindustrie – auf Augenhöhe mit den Männern?“ mit anschließender Diskussion und enden beim gemeinsamen Networking- Dinner. Entstanden ist der Ladies‘ Business Club, weil sich eine kleine Runde von Veranstaltungsplanerinnen vernetzen und austauschen wollte. Der Ladies Business Club steht allen Frauen offen, die in ihren Unternehmen, Verbänden oder anderen Organisationen für die Buchung von Übernachtungen und Veranstaltungen zuständig sind.


A central inclusive place for women

Three years ago five women founded the “Association for Women in Events”

(AWE) in Washington D.C. They wanted the vision of the organization to be centered around a central inclusive place for women to find resources, mentorship, and career guidance in the events industry. “We realized that women-centric resources weren't as easy to access in the industry, and that women needed a safe community with resources, mentors and sponsors who help elevate them in their professional pursuits,” explains Co-Founder and Past- President Carrie Abernathy. AWE is “open for business” as a member organization and looking for global members and chapters. Carrie Abernathy: “We have heard from women all over the world! Women in Europe should be involved because we, as women, all experience the same unique challenges.” AWE welcomes both men and women to join the movement. After all AWE is a virtual and global organization, run by the needs of its members. It offers a number of coaching programs and webinars, for example on 31 May 2018 at 2:00pm EST: webinar on „Sexual Harassment and Abuse in the Events Industry“.
Networking is our core business Image 6
Carrie Abernathy, Co-Founder and Past-President of AWE
Monika Dech lebt das Unternehmensmotto „Connecting Global Competence“ auf die weibliche Art.