Caroline Cole, senior marketing and creative and entertainment industries major at Belmont University, recently became one of six international finalists in the MPI-IMEX Future Leaders Forum.
Every year Meeting Planners International (MPI), a global organization for all meeting planners, in collaboration with IMEX, another event production and networking company, holds six Future Leaders Forums. At those forums, selected students participate in a competition where they are given an event description from which they create an event brief. Students then present their briefs to industry professionals at the forums.
Following those presentations, one winner from each of the six forums is chosen to compete in the larger University Challenge at the International Future Leader Forums, which is being held next spring in Frankfurt, Germany.
In order to get selected to present at one of the six forums, students must go through a vigorous application process.
“[For] the first step of that process we sent in an application form explaining any of our experience in the event industry, what we wanted to go into and why we thought we should qualify to be a part of the Future Leaders Forum,” Cole recalled.
Once approved and provided with an event description, students form event briefs where their hypothetical event would take place, logistics, travel costs and sponsors.
The prompt given to Cole was to put on a global education program for teachers.
“I had to consider international travel, programming and sustainability factors in my planning,” Cole explained. “Who would come and speak at the meetings? How do I plan for food and beverage? Things of that nature. Based on the prompt, I created a conference called ‘Teachers for Tech.’”
Cole’s “Teachers for Tech” event would be hosted in Denver, CO and would focus on helping teachers learn new technology for their classrooms. Throughout the conference there would be a variety of speakers for attendees to choose from as well as several networking opportunities.
As far as preparation goes, Cole attributes her success in the competition to her event management class taught by Jill Robinson, director of external relations and executive learning networks in the Massey College of Business.
“I was lucky enough to take event management with Professor Robinson, which I kind of took on a whim, and it opened so many doors for me. I could not be more grateful about what a fantastic class that was in the program and the education I received throughout it,” said Cole. “I actually know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if I hadn’t taken that class.”
In addition to Robinson, Cole also thanked MPI mentor Courtney McGee and Shannon Jones, president of MPI Nashville chapter, for helping her along the way.
On top of the education received in class, Cole’s extracurricular experience at Belmont contributed greatly to her success. As president of the Belmont Service Corps, a club offering Curb College students the opportunity to volunteer at music industry events, Cole has seen the work that goes into planning high-profile events up close.
“I really got firsthand experience about being inside a high-profile event and the moving pieces of that. It’s easy to miss pieces when you’re not actually there physically doing it. I’ve learned so much in the classroom…but it’s a completely different viewpoint to actually be there and be in the chaos of everything,” Cole explained.
Cole is set to compete at the Frankfurt Future Leaders Forum April 26-28, 2022.