EMEC20's Opening General Session Pushes Boundaries as Promised

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EMEC20's Opening General Session Pushes Boundaries as Promised

By Rich Luna | Feb 9, 2020

Pushing boundaries took on a distinctly Spanish style when Meeting Professionals International unveiled on Sunday its signature European education event, the European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC), held in Sevilla, Spain.

Starting with a discovery-themed scavenger hunt that started at the famed Plaza de España and ended at the Navigation Pavilion, built to honor the scientific expeditions, discoveries and advances in naval technology, the opening general session and reception launched the 31st EMEC, a three-day education and networking event for meeting industry professionals.

The conference theme, “pushing boundaries,” followed a successful 2019 EMEC in The Netherlands that urged attendees to “change the game.” EMEC’s concept of pushing boundaries centered on the history of explorers from Sevilla, where 500 years ago, Iberian explorers Magellan and Elcano set sail from Sevilla, returning three years later having completed the first circumnavigation of the globe.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” said Paul Van Deventer, MPI’s president and CEO. “It takes great courage and perseverance to push your boundaries and we’re fortunate to be in this city where people have done it.”

This marks the third time EMEC has been in the Andalusian region, and Manual Macias Moreno, director of the Seville Congress and Convention Bureau, was elated to welcome meeting professionals to Sevilla.

“Sevilla wants to host the best events worldwide and that’s why we wanted EMEC,” he said. “It’s a huge challenge for all of us because we’re doing new challenges and activities that we have not done until this moment. We want you to visit our venues, but keep in mind the hospitality of the city.”

EMEC moderator Samme Allen asked Macias to push his own boundaries by playing a flamenco guitar on stage. “I’ve been betrayed,” he said with a laugh, as he’s known for his keen guitar skills. “This is one of my boundaries being pushed.”

Joined by a second guitar player and a box drummer, Macias held his own quite nicely, earning a standing ovation.

The theme of pushing boundaries was carried out by youngsters to open the general session with an impressive display of music, singing and flamenco dancing by the Alala Foundation, which supports social integration for youth using culture, art and sport. “Flamenco is a landmark for Spain,” Macias said. “The cradle of flamenco here and very much tied to our way of life.”

The opening general session wrapped with Dear World taking attendees through a powerful story and photo exercise that was hugely popular at last year’s World Education Congress.

“We’re going to be courageous and push our boundaries and learn some things about ourselves,” session leader Keshia Hannam told attendees. “We create a sense of belonging. What is the story that only you can tell? All we ask is that it be meaningful to you. Dear World portraits are powerful. They give people the power to share their story and take their portrait. Meaningful can mean different things to different people.”

Hannam guided participants to collaborate by actively working on their stories together by listening and sharing, combining that with a format that helps people develop and deliver a meaningful story that can be transformative when shared within a team or community. Participants then took photos with an inspiring theme from their story.

Still to Come

Monday’s education offers attendees eight possible learning journeys: a visit to an Andalusian Horse Ranch, learning how to manage stress through a program at Airbus, creating sessions that explore social impact with the Alala Foundation, and experiencing the majesty of the Teatro de la Maestranza by taking part in a storytelling exercise.

Other education sessions will focus on design thinking, complex problem solving, storytelling and leadership. The focus of the last day of EMEC is making sure that attendees will be able to experience some of the highest-rated education sessions from Monday by taking part in the “Best of EMEC” series. New education opportunities for Tuesday also include a Master Class in designing authentic experiences, stress management and decision-making.

Pre-EMEC events included meetings for MPI’s International Board of Directors (IBOD), its Global Board of Trustees (GBOT), the European Chapter Leader Forum, the Future Leaders Forum and pre-education sessions including Women in Leadership: Executive Leader Skills and the Meeting and Event Strategist Certificate Program.

The MPI Foundation will hold its Rendezvous event Monday night to raise funds for scholarships, grants and industry research.



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.