• August 1, 2022

Is Personal Development the key to unlocking the MICE sector talent crisis?

Is Personal Development the key to unlocking the MICE sector talent crisis?

Is Personal Development the key to unlocking the MICE sector talent crisis? 1024 683 micebook.

Zoe Tuffs, founder and talent development coach, Times Ten Coaching, facilitated a roundtable at our recent nineteen agency leaders get together at the Farnborough Air Show. Here, she shares some of the highlights from the discussion…

There is no doubt that amid the current talent crisis, personal development and growth opportunities have crept up the priority list of drivers for our people. This shift in expectation is felt by agency leaders across our sector, who are all striving to show up with a People First approach.

Balancing the needs of our people with the needs of our clients AND the needs of our businesses is a challenge that resonates for all leaders. And whilst leaders need to make moves to meet the changing needs of employees, in this time of recovery and high demand for services, the bandwidth to deliver meaningful change is tough.

Last month, I was privileged to facilitate the micebook Nineteen Agency Leaders’ Meeting, attended by heads of agencies including Cheerful Twentyfirst, Owl Live, Orange Door, TTA, Lime Blue, Strata and more, where these issues were discussed. Here are a few of the key takeaways.


High Demand & Lean Teams

‘We are in a time of super high demand with a lack of available talent, so we are all feeling the pressure to deliver for our clients’ – a sentiment shared by one leader. In this current position, carving out the space to implement purposeful L&D initiatives is a challenge.

Failure to Complete Training

Most L&D programmes are drip-fed over several weeks or months. In our sector, this is tricky to navigate as we manage the inevitable ebb and flow of live projects. ‘When we invest in external training, we quite often see a drop off in attendance after the first few sessions.’ This inevitably results in limited ROI for both the employee and the employer. 

Lack of Specialist L&D

‘There is currently no consistency of roles across the sector and nuanced skills look different in every team so finding training that aligns with the needs of our people is difficult.’

The Pace of Change

This is a key consideration, especially when we focus on developing pragmatic or tech skills. According to insight from Gartner ‘Nearly 30% of the skills needed in an average job posting in 2018, will be obsolete by 2022’.


Reframing Growth

‘Personal growth shouldn’t just equate to promotion and pay raises. As a sector, there is work to do on reframing growth.’ Internal or cross-agency peer mentoring alongside exposure to different project types and clients will all help our people to see their blind spots and identify new and exciting growth opportunities.

Creating Space

‘An ideal scenario for our people is 80/20, with 80% of the time on the delivery of live projects with 20% personal development time.’ Longer term, as the market recalibrates there is a clear need to carve out time for individuals to focus on their personal growth.

Partnership, Collaboration & Accountability

‘The best outcomes are achieved when it is a two-way street with shared commitment and accountability from both the employee and the employer.’ Win-win outcomes are achieved when there is consensus on not just what to learn but how and when to learn. Training must have a long-term benefit to the individual and the business – a clear ROI.

Bespoke & Agile Training

To overcome the shifting demands on time across projects, training support needs to be agile and fit for purpose.  ‘Education at any level is vital. There is always something new to learn – it just needs to be appropriate.’


As we embrace the opportunities ahead in H2 of 2022 and look towards 2023 and 2024 there is a need to better support the progression of our people with the skills and knowledge they need to grow in their roles and thrive. There is no doubt that our leaders understand that leveraging the true potential of every individual on their team is the key to achieving sustainable growth and long-term success.

The ideal scenario we that we nurture our talent, so every event prof can achieve their career aspirations whilst delivering strategic competitive advantage for their organisations too.

Whether you are an employee or employer, embracing new opportunities to learn, grow and develop is something we should all continue to discuss, push up the agenda and make happen, because this is one way, we can all make a positive impact and improve outcomes for our people, our business, our clients and our sector too.

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