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ELX: new community for global event leaders goes live

ELX: new community for global event leaders goes live

A new group of senior event leaders has launched a new collaboration for the global events industry. Called the Event Leaders Exchange (ELX), it is a community which facilitates the sharing of industry research, networking, best practices and initiatives.

To-date ELX members have held sessions on critical topics such as DEI and sustainability to find immediate and realistic paths forward that can be shared across corporations. Meetings are held throughout the year both in-person and via cross industry virtual sessions with all content, discussions and approach shaped by its impressive steering committee. The steering group features senior event leaders from the likes of McDonald’s, Microsoft, Siemens, Cisco Systems and Wolters Kluwer.

The initiative was launched by a group of large corporate leaders and is facilitated by Kimberly Meyer, David Kliman, Mark Brewster, and Chloe Richardson. Richardson sat down with CN editorial director Martin Fullard to explain more.

Martin Fullard: How did the Event Leaders Exchange (ELX) come about?

Chloe Richardson: It began last summer. Mark Brewster had a number of conversations with corporate event professionals about the issues they were facing. One key thing that came out of these discussions was the lack of knowledge sharing opportunities for global heads of events. We wanted to create a a community in which the most senior professionals in the corporate sector could speak freely around their shared strategic challenges and work through issues together speeding up adopting of best practices and knowledge sharing

We partnered with Kimberly Mayer and David Klimanin the US who have extensive experience within the events industry and help us in bringing together a global element to the network. 

In September last year, we ran the first virtual Think Tank bringing together a group of global heads of events to discuss the issue of sustainability.. The growth of the ELX has since been organic. 

We now have just under 50 participants and because it’s such a focused community, we don’t anticipate it’s going to grow bigger than kind of 200-300 professionals. 

MF: Is it invitation only, or is it open to anyone who holds that position?

CR: We have three strict criteria for those who’d like to join. Their organisation must have a 3,000+ headcount, or annual revenue of $3bn plus per year, or that they deliver a portfolio of 700 + events per year. The key is to solve issues that are shared amongst the ELX participants and having the criteria in place allows us to ensure those who are joining the conversation have commonality on challenges, best practices, and framework models. The benefit of the focused group allows an equality within the participants and a balance being able to benefit from and give benefit to other participants.

Now that is has launched, we are welcoming anyone who thinks that they would get benefit from it and would give value to it to reach out.

MF: How often will the group meet; what format does the sort of sessions take?

CR: We run a combination of virtual and in-person events. We recognise that ELX participants are very busy, so we wouldn’t expect them to take a whole day out of their diary every month engage in thought-leadership conversations.

Our think tanks are 90 minutes long, and they take place once a month, and range from a variety of topics. For example, our current agenda topics includesustainability, DEI, and HR resourcing. The content of the sessions are driven by our esteemed steering committee who champion those topics. We have no more than 10 people per think tank session which allows everyone to participate in the conversation.

We also have in-person events which to-date have taken place at IMEX Frankfurt and with a second to follow at IMEX Americas in Las Vegas. 

We are also in the process of planning our annual congress, which will take place in Chicago in February 2023. The congress is an opportunity for every single member of the ELX community to come together.Everything has been as a result of feedback from the steering committee allowing us to serve the senior global event professionals in a way that most benefits their needs. 

MF: How do you ensure your community is getting value?

CR: The value for participants is threefold. First, bringing likeminded professionals together allows them to talk to their peers about things that are troubling them. Usually, they can’t speak to other people in their business because there is only one person undertaking their role and often unable to share with their direct reports as content is of a strategic nature. One of the ELX USPs is that sessions operate under a strictChatham House rule which allows ELX participants to freely speak and share their challenges. 

We are also really encouraging the community to share best practice and frameworks. We have already had a few of our members sharing their sustainability frameworks or DEI policies so other organisations can be inspired by their approach and learn from their experience. We are keen on making white papers and sharing those frameworks around to accelerate adoptionwithin organisations, but also to benefit the wider events industry.

Lastly, it’s about new ideas building regular collaboration with the rest of the industry with the whole of an ecosystem 

MF: Is there a paid membership?

CR: We’ve got our first congress coming up next year in Q1 and have a secured venue partnership in place. We want to make it as easy for these global heads of events to attend as possible and won’t be asking for any financial contribution from them to attend the event.

MF: Are you building your own platform, or are you taking one in existence? How will it work?

CR: We have just signed off a partnership with Hublio as our platform partners to help us create a 365-day community. It’s going to be a place that our memberscan go when they’ve got the time to engage with fellow members of the community, have a pressing need to share or request support from the community and take away some valuable content too.