Seven Heartland Chapter members attended January’s PCMA Convening Leaders conference using their scholarships awarded to them by the Chapter.
This week, we hear from Rhonda Chesney, consultant, and feature her key takeaways from her Convening Leaders (CL) experience.
What is the best thing about attending Convening Leaders virtually this year?
Rhonda: Gratitude to participate and attend CL 2021 was the best thing about attending CL this year. Following a fabulous 30-year career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and due to a corporate restructuring as a result of Covid-19, my position was eliminated in 2020.
As I continue on the hunt for my next chapter, I have stayed actively involved in PCMA and the Heartland Chapter, and when I saw the opportunity to apply for a Heartland Chapter scholarship to attend CL 2021, I went for it…and did the “happy dance” the day I received the news I was a recipient!
At the start of every year, I always looked forward to CL to connect in person with industry colleagues and be inspired about the year ahead and future vision, with the many thought-provoking educational sessions and networking opportunities. As you can imagine I was so thankful to the Chapter for this news!
Truly CL 2021 was one of the best ever and the team at PCMA deserves a standing ovation. The transition to a hybrid format was handled masterfully with the main stage in Singapore and in – person gatherings in several locations including Palm Beach and Las Vegas. I attended virtually and being a student of the PCMA DES program, it was such a beneficial experience for me to see all I had learned throughout the course put into action as the conference transitioned from in-person to hybrid.
I am looking forward to taking all of my learnings from the DES course, as well as from the CL educational sessions that highlighted hybrid/virtual events as it better positioned me to take the test, which I am planning this month.
What was your key learning from CL?
Rhonda: Throughout the keynotes and educational sessions, a common message shared related to how quickly times are changing and how important it is to stay current/relevant. A focus for me has always been on education as I am passionate about being a lifelong learner. This is especially important during my time of transition as I have been a sponge for learning thru industry webinars, reading and staying current and connected. I had never fully utilized my PCMA membership benefits as our industry can be all consuming when you are employed. There are so many educational webinars offered on a complimentary basis when you are a member of PCMA via HQ as well as thru the chapters. I have a membership in both the Heartland and the Greater Midwest Chapter and watch and sign up for the many offerings that are available.
Another highlight that was presented in several sessions was on how important it is to be resilient. As we continue to see more positive signs of economic recovery with the vaccine and all our industry is doing to educate on being safe with the proper protocols, etc., there is confidence in our industry beginning to come back mid to late 2021.
Who was your favorite speaker/presenter and why?
Rhonda: CL was so successful from all aspects, and as a result I can honestly say that I appreciated and learned from every session I participated in. Truly it was hard to make my selections when there were so many exceptional offerings, and the programs I missed are provided to any registrant on-demand!
The keynotes were all outstanding; and a key takeaway from the Honorable Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia was “To not worry if there is a setback or challenge in your career, always think of what you can learn from it” and also “Events are often remembered not so much for what happened on the stage, but for the live in-person conversations that strengthen our friendships/partnerships.”
And Thomas Friedman, always so thought provoking had many highlights to his presentation. The one that resonated with me most related to the rate of change, and how companies and individuals must be committed to lifelong learning. Businesses and employees have to be educators at the same time and as noted earlier this was a common thread throughout many of the presentations.
And always memorable was Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, and our PCMA CL MC. Holly is an expert at facilitating conversations and keeping everyone engaged, especially with the keynote presentations. I cannot imagine a future CL without Holly as the “maestro” of the overall CL.
What are you most excited about for 2021?
Rhonda: Seeing and being part of our cherished hospitality industry coming back this year is what excites me. Every time I participate in a hybrid event from a virtual perspective and know there are in- person attendees it is such a good feeling. Although I am also looking at perhaps pursuing a career in other industries at this time, I am hopeful with the vaccine in place there will be more opportunities for me and so many others who have lost their positions to return to hospitality related positions.
A big thank you again to the Heartland Chapter for providing me with the PCMA CL scholarship!