Women at the Helm: Amy Calvert, President & CEO, Events Industry Council

April 18, 2024

Ask Amy Calvert about her path to the C-suite, and she will share a common thread that has persisted throughout her professional journey: a steadfast love and respect for the human connections that business events can foster. 

Calvert started her career in the hospitality sector, gaining experience working for the InterContinental Hotels Group and Loews before transitioning into the destination marketing world, serving in various leadership positions on the Visit Baltimore sales and services team for more than 15 years before taking the helm of the Events Industry Council (EIC) as its president and CEO in April 2019. 

“It’s such an honor to now lead a global federation with members from every sector of the global business events industry, all connected around a shared vision of events as a catalyst for growth, advancement and positive change in support of our global society and most specifically, our workforce,” Calvert said. 

A strong advocate for equitable, sustainable and responsible practices in the global business events industry and the communities it serves, Calvert works to support EIC’s mission to support the industry through advocacy, research, professional standards and recognition. Additionally, she provides strategic oversight for EIC’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Sustainable Event Professional Certificate (SEPC) programs, the EIC Centre for Sustainability and Social Impact, the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Commission, EIC Global Awards and Hall of Leaders.

We enjoyed sitting down with Calvert to hear about her first five years at EIC, how and why sustainability became a major focus for the organization and why female industry leaders are and will continue to be key in moving the sustainability needle forward.

You have served the Events Industry Council as CEO for five years now. What has leading the organization been like for you and what accomplishments are you most proud of?

It has been an extraordinary five years. A year into my role, the COVID pandemic arrived, and our $1.6 trillion industry was completely disrupted. Our Board had just completed a Vision exercise in the fall of 2019. Thankfully, we had this to anchor to as we began to navigate our role in supporting our sector and our people. Going through something of this magnitude reinforced to our leadership and members the relevance of our organization’s true purpose and ability to impact in a way that proved our relevance.

Our volunteer leaders came together through what we deemed a ‘collective consciousness’ to listen, learn, adapt and provide incredibly valuable resources and a forum for global collaboration. It was a reminder of the essence of what we do and why what we do matters so deeply. Being able to bear witness to this incredible act of generosity was a gift that I will also look back on with gratitude.

Now, we must continue to reflect on the learnings from this time to ensure we do not fall back into routines and patterns that no longer serve us well. While demand and performance remain strong compared to our industry’s high-water mark in 2019, we recognize the need to turn our vision into action and focus on building up those fierce learnings. Leading EIC during this time has been a profound honor, and I am so fortunate to have the support of an incredible Board of Directors, as well as an extraordinary group of volunteer leaders who all give so much to the organization and our shared industry. 

When and why did sustainability become an important focus for EIC, and what kind of role have you played in that evolution?

It is always so interesting to me to look back on this particular journey for EIC, and it is important to acknowledge the significant contribution of so many thought leaders who continue to lead and model the way for our industry. Thanks to many incredibly inspired volunteer leaders and team members, we have been leading and evolving here for many years. 

We released our first Green Meetings Task Force Report in 2004, and it was the first of its kind for the meetings industry, providing specific guidance and best practices for suppliers and planners seeking to create more sustainable events. In 2016, the Green Meeting Industry Council evolved into what is now our EIC Centre of Sustainability and Social Impact. 

The Centre, with the support of the Sustainability and Social Impact Committee, has led the way for our industry in terms of providing valuable resources and standards for sustainable events and planning, including the Sustainable Event Professional Certifica­­te (SEPC) and the Sustainable Event Standards. These have become the incredibly important professional development resources, offering a framework for collaboration and a standard worldwide for sustainability and regenerative practices aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). We hope these resources and the engagement around them will build ambition and serve as a catalyst for change. 

It appears that many of the leading experts and proponents of event sustainability are female – do you believe this to be true and if so, why do you think that is?

Studies continue to support that women are often more significantly impacted by issues facing our environment, particularly in areas where large portions of the population are living in marginalized communities that are under-served and at-risk. So, it is extremely important that we lend our voice with urgency to solving the most pressing challenges facing our global society. 

We believe our sector is uniquely positioned to be a force for good in the world. As women rise into leadership roles in any sector, I believe we will continue to see an alignment of strategic priorities to values and purpose. In the events industry specifically, where the integration of sustainable, regenerative and inclusive practices is gaining prominence, female professionals bring a multifaceted perspective that emphasizes not only economic viability but also social responsibility and environmental stewardship. 

When it comes to sustainability, where do you envision the trade show, meetings and events industry in five years?

Sustainability in trade shows and global business events is poised to undergo significant evolution, driven by an increasing awareness of environmental responsibility and a growing demand for sustainable, regenerative and inclusive practices. As businesses and consumers alike prioritize eco-conscious and socially just choices, event organizers will be compelled to integrate these values-based experience and actions into every aspect of event planning and execution. This shift will encompass various facets, including venue selection based on environmental criteria, adoption of renewable energy sources, reduction of waste through recycling and composting initiatives and incredibly meaningful community impact efforts and much more. 

I’d like to see us all work together to think of this as a holistic journey we take together through a collaborative effort, to be motivated by beginning to take meaningful action without feeling responsible for solving for everything at one time alone.

What does sustainability mean to you personally?

I am incredibly honored and grateful to be in a position to help champion our sector’s values and priorities for the greater good. The most important thing for all of us to remember — and something that I try to practice daily — is the notion that each of us can live our values and lead from where we are and that often it is the daily intentions, rather than the grand gestures, of one person that can shift the course of another’s life for the better. We all have tremendous capacity to have influence when we believe in our hearts that to be true. 

We indeed live in a fractured world and therefore we need more effort to engage in ways that help break down barriers, foster greater empathy and understanding and have the ambition to really drive change. Events can be an accelerator for those connections and actions. We know this discussion is more than the idea of reducing one’s carbon footprint. While that is of course a significant and important target, it’s truly about a shift in one’s mindset to leave this world in a better place than we found it.

Know a dynamic female event industry leader who deserves some time in the spotlight? Please reach out to lisa.savas@informa.com and danica.tormohlen@informa.com.

 

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