UFI provides opportunity for emerging exhibition leaders

Angela Herberholz, programme manager of talent development and committees at UFI, discusses with EW the details and aspirations of this year’s Next Generation Leadership Grant 

The global association of the exhibition industry, UFI, is again running its annual Next Generation Leadership (NGL) Grant programme. The scheme aims to reward professionals who show clear initiatives in driving innovation in their area of activity within the exhibition industry. 

“The Grant is awarded to up to five professionals through a strict application process,” says Angela Herberholz, programme manager of talent development and committees at UFI. “A jury led by the president of UFI, Monica Lee-Müller, and supported by our partners for the Grant programme (Clarion Events, dmg events, Emerald, Informa Markets, RX and Tarsus) will select the winners.”

The NGL Grant is an eight-month programme, starting April 2022 and finishing with a group presentation at the UFI Global Congress in Oman, November 2022. The focus of this year’s programme is to trigger an industry wide conversation around talent acquisition and industry positioning of a global workforce. The winners are tasked to develop a ‘dynamic talent narrative’ for the global exhibition industry. 

Empowering next generation leaders 

Professional and geographic diversity is highlighted as a key aspect throughout the selection of Grant winners. 

“We can have a manager of sustainable development, a marketing director, and someone from digital innovation selected onto the programme,” highlights Herberholz. “The NGL Grant programme was launched in 2016. Since then, we have worked with 24 young professionals, from 17 different countries.

“This showcases what the Grant stands for. Being global and empowering diverse young talents (less than 10 years’ experience) within the industry,” adds Herberholz. 

Nonetheless, this type of diversity within the programme does bring its own challenges. Owing to the global nature of the programme there are inherent cultural, time zone and day job related differences that are dependent upon the participants’ geographic and professional background. 

Herberholz considers that the support of UFI and the programme’s global industry supporters in providing mentoring is crucial to turning these challenges into opportunities.

Mutual learning 

While the NGL Grant is centred around enabling talent within the exhibition industry, Herberholz recognises the reciprocal opportunities that the programme presents the UFI community. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to work in this development programme,” asserts Herberholz. “Everyone learns from and with each other.”

Beyond the programme, the majority of the previous winners are still following a career path in the exhibition industry and have stayed connected with the UFI community. The Grant has created an alumni network that assists them regularly meeting and exchanging ideas. 

Herberholz believes: “We empower winners to thrive within the UFI community and at the same time encourage them to challenge us to continuously improve.”