MPI RISE Awards: Zaman Ishaad, Young Professional Achievement

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MPI RISE Awards: Zaman Ishaad, Young Professional Achievement

By Rich Luna | Jul 26, 2021

Meet Zaman Ishaad, CED, CMP, DES (MPI Toronto Chapter), who received the 2021 MPI RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement. This award recognizes an individual 40 years of age or younger with five or fewer years of professional experience in the meeting and event industry who has made outstanding contributions to MPI and/or the meeting and event industry.

Who or what inspired you to become involved as a volunteer?

As a shy networker, volunteering was my pathway to develop relationships with mentors and connect with the industry—the easier way. As I received recognition for my work and mentors supported me, I realized there was more I could do to support others in their journey to develop professionally and personally. As I quickly realized the value of joining an association, I made it my mission to support members by connecting them with job opportunities, recommending volunteer opportunities and helping communities.

This award honors our younger professionals. What are the traits that the younger generation of meeting professionals are bringing to the industry?

Young professionals have been taught from the ground up to design new experiences and challenge the status quo. Taking risks and design thinking aren’t common traits to meeting planners but make a huge difference in the impact of our programs. Experiences need to be tailored to each audience to make sure they satisfy their needs and engage them in new ways.

What would you still like to accomplish?

This has been challenging for me—I’ve accomplished all of my goals in my first few years in the industry. As I gain more knowledge and experience, my goals include presenting at a conference, developing a new methodology for designing events and writing a book. I could learn a thing or two from Ruud Janssen and Roel Frissen.

What does is mean for you to receive this RISE Award?

The RISE Award is an opportunity to share my perspective and story for inspiration. I’m not usually the loudest person in the room, but I show up everywhere. I always push my comfort zone to learn, grow and connect. MPI gave me the platform to showcase how I impacted various communities with my effort to recover our industry after a tough year.

How has MPI helped you in your career as a meeting professional?

MPI supported me with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience to plan and design events through volunteering. I was able to gain valuable knowledge and pick the brains of my mentors on how to take advantage of every opportunity. Also, since my previous employer knew about MPI, I was able to get my first job because they knew the importance of the association.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

As an experience strategist, I love working with clients to strategically design “get out of their seat” moments while aligning with their goals and objectives. Finding solutions to their problems through augmented reality provides me the satisfaction to alleviate their pain points.

How have you coped with the COVID crisis, professionally and personally?

After being laid off from my dream job in 2020, traveling the world, I was quite disappointed. After a few years in, I had invested so much time and effort which made me realize why it was so important to stay committed. Gratitude and optimism have helped me stay focused and inspired. Personally, I was able to get my driver’s license and learn how to cook, which have helped me tremendously.

When you were young, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was young, I always wanted to work in a hotel, at the Shangri-La or Hyatt. I didn’t even know that meetings and events was an industry until I took a course during university. After working in hotels, I realized that’s not what I wanted and pursued my passion to become a meeting planner, which I loved. 

What are you most passionate about outside of your career and the meeting industry?

Nostalgia keeps me inspired and warm in many ways. Despite being discontinued, I’ve collected CDs, Blu-rays and board games. These items remind me of the great memories I’ve had in the past.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?

The best advice I’ve received is from my career coach: “If you’re nervous when speaking on stage, it means that presenting is really important to you. Be sure to share your story to inspire others.” This advice has helped me overcome my fears of public speaking and share my insights with the greater meetings industry.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in meetings and events?

As young professionals, the next generation of leaders have the biggest opportunity to positively impact communities and create transformative experiences. The upcoming generation of meeting professionals are responsible for fighting for the future and safety our industry, all while making a difference around the world. When we meet, we change the world.

Learn more about all of the RISE Awards recipients: Kate Copeland (Member of the Year), Greg Elam (Meeting Industry Leadership), Zaman Ishaad (Young Professional Achievement), Italia Chapter (two awards: Membership Achievement, Industry Advocate), Caribe Mexicano Chapter (Innovative Educational Programming), Greater New York Chapter (Marketplace Excellence).



Rich Luna

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