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Gather around, it’s time for an empowering chat about women in the events industry! As you already know, our partnership with MPI during IMEX America 2019 brought us some amazing pieces of content. We’ve covered everything from leadership to sustainability, strategy and consulting. But to end things with a bang, we’ve compiled the absolute best interviews for women in the events industry from our live #EventIcons show at IMEX 2019. Packed with tips and tricks from some truly iconic people, this is the ultimate guide for raving success.

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Joining our lovely hosts Lindsay Martin-Bilbery and guest host Kiki L’Italien are powerhouses Desi Whitney, Mara Harvey, and Kiki Fox. Tackling topics like parenthood and career and inequality in the workplace, these are definitely conversations you’ll want to take a peek into. So, are you ready to dive into the amazing world of women in the events industry? Check out the amazing interviews below!

Women In the Events Industry: Balancing Parenthood And Professionalism

And our first guest is Desi Whitney, the Senior Vice-President of Sourcing Operations Team for HPN Global. But Desi is also a mother and a wife! And she’s here to kick start the conversation about women in events with the topic of balancing parenthood and professionalism.

Applying What You Learn

it’s definitely a plus for Desi that she can use what she learns at home with her child in her line of work. For instance, there’s “obviously a lot of triage. And certainly managing and mitigating stressful situations”, in both senses. She goes on to add that “we’re all trying to find this thing called balance”, however, “it doesn’t actually exist”. So, what’s the bottom line here?

“I think the important thing is connecting with yourself and redefining and defining your own priorities”, she explains. “And what it is that you want to contribute professionally and also personally to your family and to yourself”. Kiki agrees on the balancing part, saying that “it never seems to work and you end up having that judgy face that comes back at you”. On the same topic, Desi believes the key is to “just figure out what you’re good with, and don’t care what anybody else thinks”.

Figuring Out What Works For You

Desi is well known for giving great talks and advice when it comes to finding a way to juggle professional and personal. And her best piece of wisdom is to “go through a process of exploration, and introspection. Really paying attention to what is making you feel good, what is making you feel bad. If you are constantly in this guilty and shame mindset is not going to serve anyone well. So let’s figure out what you need to be whole, professionally and personally”.

And because she wants nothing more than to help you out on your journey, Desid developed a great tool. If you text Balance to 33777, you can get a free worksheet to make your personal journey and discovery just a little easier! This worksheet is built off of Desi’s personal experience with trying to be all things to all people, and suddenly having s scary wake-up call.

The Dive

Desi has met a fair share of women that are about to become mothers for the first time. This is when the unexpected is coming, and her best advice at this time to “give yourself a lot of patience and throw your expectations out the window”. As she puts it, “you might love certain things about parenthood, you might hate other things about parenthood. You don’t know how all of this is going to feel until you actually get into that space”.

Kiki adds that “all of us along the way try to be perfect. And we’re never going to be perfect”. Desi agrees with this statement, adding that “our balance sometimes gets out of whack. But what you have to pay attention to is resetting, getting right with ourselves to make sure that we’re back in balance. I feel like we shouldn’t suffer through the grind to make sure we’re finding joyful experiences and taking care of ourselves while we’re on the road and figuring out what that looks like”.

“Have a conversation with your family, and that includes yourself”, adds Desi. “You can’t take care of yourself, and you can’t serve others if you’re not right within yourself”.

Women In the Events Industry: Risk – What’s The Deal?

Our second guest is the amazing Dr. Mara Harvey, a truly inspiring icon for women in events. She’s a speaker, author, and all around powerhouse. With several certifications and degrees under her belt, Dr. Harvey has more than a few things to say about the topic we’re discussing today. Let’s hear her out!

The Meaning Of Risk

“What I’m trying to get out in terms of a discussion is, can we move away from the conventional notion of risk? And start thinking about what are the real risks that women are facing and that we are not having a proper talk about?”, Mara begins explaining. “It started when, as a wealth management professional, I started asking myself – how does a pay gap affect a woman over the course of her lifetime? And how does it affect her wealth creation?”. When the simulation was run at her request, the results were astonishing. “It turned out a 10% pay gap resulted in an almost 40% wealth gap over a lifetime”.

“I keep on encountering women who say they’re not as involved in financial matters as they’d like to be. Very often women also think that their partners or spouses are more competent than they are. So we need to look at women’s financial confidence. And I really think it is a matter of awareness and trust more than expertise strictly speaking”.

How Can We Start?

“We boiled it down to these three dimensions – confidence, expertise, and trust”, explains Mara. “And the first myth I’d like to expel is exactly the one around expertises, and to say no, you don’t need to be an expert in anything financial related to have the right conversations around what are the real concerns. The real question people should ask themselves is not what equity market risk might I be taking if I’m investing, but how do I maintain my quality of life until I’m 80”.

As it turns out, we need to start having these conversations with little kids, and especially little girls, from an early age. “We need to give them a massive boost in terms of talking about money, so they know their worth. If they’re doing a chore, can they ask for money for it? That’s a skill they’ll need in life”. Mara adds that “the second important message to kids is that money in a piggy bank is great, but it cannot grow. You need a savings account and you need to explain to kids the notion of compound interest”.

It’s also about teaching young kids about ethics, about equal pay, and sustainability. “If we’re teaching them how to earn money, why don’t we teach them how to spend money? And how their choices impact the word every day”.

Women In the Events Industry: Inequality In The Workplace

Our last guest for the day is Kiki Fox, the Senior Manager of National Sales at Core-apps, and the co-founder of the Association of Women In Events. And Kiki is a true well of wisdom when it comes to the topic of women and events, particularly when it comes to inequality in the workplace. Let’s hear what she has to say!

The Sexual Harassment Task Force

Kiki has been focusing a lot on creating a taskforce against sexual harassment in the workplace.”We gathered a bunch of industry organizations and said – look, this is a problem that we have to address. And a lot of these groups were already doing a lot of work of their own to really put education out there, and to make sure the conversations were happening. And so we decided that together we were going to create a front. So we formed the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force”, she explains.

“Our goal is to create this united front against sexual harassment, provide resources and education, and really bring these conversations to the forefront so that people see this is a problem. But a lot of times is not talked about”.

A Beautiful Impact

“It’s been really amazing to see all of these organizations ban together”, says Kiki. “A lot of them have started to put education into their schedules to talk about this, and to give the platform to have these conversations. We try to do one or two big initiatives per year. What we did this year was we created a pledge. So individuals can sign on to pledge, as an employee, to say you’ll make sure to follow the protocol and I will report this. And as an employer, it’s to say that you will support your employees when this happens, and you’ll continue to make this a safe working space for everybody”.

Association of Women In Events: Awesome Side-Hustle

“We’ve been able because of this platform that we have, we’ve been able to push forward things like the task force. As well as last year, we were able to put together our first in-person event”, says Kiki when asked about her work with the Association of Women in Events. “It was just really cool to be in the presence of such awesome women and they’re all willing to support and help you. And it sort of reminded me why we formed the organization in the first place”.


And that’s a wrap on these amazing interviews empowering women in the events industry! What were your favorite takeaways? What are the things you’re already doing, and simply can’t wait to share with other women in the industry? Let us know and make sure you check out all the resources below for even more amazing content!


Event Strategy And Consulting: The Ultimate Tips For An Elevated Experience

Sustainability In Events: Recognising The Social & Human Impact Of The Industry

Fear Is Healthier Than Ego: The Right Steps To Ensure Event Safety

Leadership In The Events Industry: A Woman’s Path To Success

Association of Women In Events

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Mariana Fernandes

Author Mariana Fernandes

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