The Event Leaders Exchange has come a long way in a short time. After a successful inaugural annual congress in February, the group now is planning to hold the ELX Forum this fall during IMEX America in Las Vegas.
The Event Leaders Exchange (ELX), a peer-to-peer network of senior corporate meeting leaders that began to coalesce in September 2021 and was formally launched as a community of practice in July 2022, has come a long way in its short history.
In addition to a series of invitation-only think tanks designed to help C-suite event professionals work through the challenges of post-pandemic event management, the group also includes cross-industry virtual sessions, with content, discussions and approaches shaped by the ELX Steering Committee. That group includes senior event leaders from corporations including McDonald’s, Microsoft, Siemens, Cisco Systems and Wolters Kluwer.
In its first 365 days, the initiative also has launched an ELX benchmarking program with member scorecards, attracted new members from industries around the world, held ELX Forums at IMEX America 2022 and IMEX Frankfurt 2023, launched its first Annual Congress, built a resource library, and supported the launch of the Google Neu Project.
“ELX is clearly a place where the leaders of corporate programs can get candid insights, ideas and support from other leaders navigating major meeting and event portfolios,” said one of the co-organizers of ELX, Kimberly Meyers. “Together, we’ll be able to drive some important initiatives forward across the industry in weeks, not years. To do this effectively, ELX will remain invitation-only to corporate senior meeting and event leaders.”
To apply to join the group, an event professional must be employed by a corporation or wholly owned subsidiary, or be the senior highest ranking meeting/event leader of a regional company, among other criteria. Those who join also must commit to attend at least one meeting per year in person, participate in four virtual meetings annually, contribute to at least one ELX topic per year, and participate in research projects and discussions. All applications must be approved by the ELX Steering Committee. All conversations take place under the Chatham House Rule to promote open and honest discussions, one of the network’s top-priority value propositions.
Even before it was formally launched, the initial members of the group, which is organized and facilitated by senior events veterans Kimberly Meyer, David Kliman, Chloe Richardson and Mark Brewster, began meeting to exchange knowledge and best practices around some of today’s toughest issues. For example, at the 2022 IMEX Americas show, ELX announced its support of the Neu Project as one of the tangible steps the industry can take to foster greater diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). The project lead on the Neu Project, Megan Henshall, Strategic Solutions Lead for event solutions with Google, said at the project’s launch, “Learning about neurodiversity and partnering on this work has not only empowered me to be a better event professional and strategist, it has given me such permission to be a fuller and more authentic version of myself. My dream is that The Neu Project will give those gifts to as many people as possible in our industry.” Resources available on the Neu Project website include “An Event Professional’s Guide to Neuroinclusion” and “The Neuroinclusive Event Checklist.” ELX also launched a DEIB supplier framework at IMEX America 2022 to bring transparency and urgency around DEIB throughout the supply chain.
Kate Scully, global business travel manager at Howden Group Holdings and member of the ELX Steering Committee, added: “Projects like NEU and the DEIB framework show just what is possible when groups of event professionals come together to create active change. That’s where initiatives like the ELX community have a huge value. I can combine my voice with my peers, harnessing the power of decades of industry experience and focus on changing things for the future and encourage and welcome new talent and new ideas to the industry.”
The group also met at IMEX Frankfurt this spring, where it announced a partnership with the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre. The group also held conversations around new ways of managing teams and suppliers for maximum effectiveness and efficiency, as well as innovations for hybrid and in-person meetings.
The network also held its own first in-person Annual Congress in February in Chicago. At that forum, ELX members convened to collaborate as they worked through some of today’s most pressing challenges, from event measurement, benchmarking and supplier partnerships, to DEIB, sustainability, travel boycotts, attendee experience and technology. As Dean Armintrout, Director of Events with T-Mobile says on the ELX website, “Leaving ELX Annual Congress with an overflowing mind of new ideas and an overflowing heart of new and deepened connections. I wish I could work with you all on a daily basis!”
While that may not be possible — at least, not yet — ELX plans to hold a meetup for its members at Cvent Connect in Las Vegas later this month, and has announced that the group will be reconvening at its ELX Forum on Oct. 16–17 in Las Vegas, which will be held in collaboration with IMEX America.
Visit the ELX website to learn more.
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