December 9, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

Missed part one of this story? Read it here.

Meetings and Events Australia’s (MEA) new Chair Michael Firman took on the Board leadership position in recent weeks, coming to the position as a seasoned MEA board member, having played a key role of MEA’s board over many years.

He has also, on numerous occasions, been asked to tackle the question about whether MEA should join forces with other peak bodies to form one strong, well-resourced organisation.

Do you support forming one association to represent all parts of the events industry?

I’m not sure what the goal is here or what you would achieve with the forming of another association.

Besides, to many of our members, and this was my view when I started in the industry, MEA is the one association that represents all parts of the events industry and it’s been around since 1975.

That’s not to say that other associations in the broader events industry don’t provide the same for their own communities, but for what MEA represents for many of our members, it is the one industry association that they connect with.

What have been the biggest learnings for the association from the past two years?  

There have been a number of learnings – the biggest being the importance of staying connected with our members and key stakeholders.

Staying connected helped the association listen to members, keeping MEA engaged with our community, celebrating achievements and advocating for our members.

Financial discipline was another learning – we had to make sure that the right financial disciplines were put in place to safeguard the organisation from future economic downturns, but also to ensure that the organisation can benefit from the rebound.

The pandemic also forced us to get our house in order. Like every business, we used the time to strengthen our strategic direction as well as review and update all of the organisation’s policies and procedures.

How will you prepare the Board and the executive to do their job?

We have a very refined induction process for the Board and some well-established processes to ensure the team can deliver for the members.

How do your peers and clients describe you?

Passionate and hands-on.

What are your biggest strengths?

I don’t like to deliver a project half finished.

I also prefer to contemplate both sides of an argument before I form my own opinion. And when faced with only one perspective, I must find an alternate perspective to help develop a more informed opinion.

Who are your mentors or who do you admire most in business?

That’s a tough question because I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve worked for over the years and each one of them have served as a mentor in one way or another.

I admire entrepreneurs who have created a brand that is the culture of the business, such as Richard Branson with Virgin. I also admire Warren Buffet who has never deviated from his disciplines.

How do you think the industry will come through COVID-19?

The industry will bounce back and enjoy an economic boom. We’ll probably see a number of new startups and entrepreneurs who will agitate the market. Customer service will be the key differential between suppliers.

What are your biggest fears?

My biggest fear is failure, failing to leave a more positive legacy for MEA than when I began my journey, failing our members, failing to navigate the change brought about by a one-in-a-hundred-year pandemic.

What are you excited about most?

The opportunities and innovations to come are exciting. I’m excited to see how the industry will be shaped in the future. I’m excited to see the thought leaders who will rise above all the noise.

What would you say to those deliberating about whether they should join MEA?

Being part of MEA is like being part of a family. But more than that, MEA is the coach, the connector, the cheerleader.

MEA’s role is to support the growth in the careers of our members and advance the events industry by helping our members create opportunities through education and training, to upskill and cross-skill through connecting with each other.