Meetings No 21
Gender Equality the New Growth Factor
Atti Soenarso on the silent knowledge women have built up.
Cover Story
Women Deliver
Focus on the Women Deliver Conference.
Women Leadership
Dubai Women Establishment
A champion for women’s participation.
IMEX Launch
The “She Means Business” event
The Future Disrupted
Rohit Talwar on shocks that could overturn our world.
A Life Remembered
Tim “Avicii” Bergling.
Young Leaders
Gaining Edge Scholars
Learning, contributing and building the future.
Smart Cities
How Does a City Become Smart?
Lessons from Tel Aviv.
Motivating Using the Right Mindset
Scientist Alva Appelgren on praise and learning.
Economic Impact
Regarding Rwanda
Becoming one of Africa’s leading business events destinations.
IMEX Frankfurt
Innovation and Inspiration.
MCI Experience
Kim Myhre: The power of brand experiences.
Johan Hagegård
“The future isn’t at all what it used to be.”
Habits to Build Your Empire
Robin Sharma: Resist the saboteur!
Collaboration is key in winning association meetings.
Brain Check
Cecilia Björkén-Nyberg
On reading printed books and listening to audiobooks.
Why Is It Taken for Granted That I’m the Boss?
Roger Kellerman: More Space to Women!
instant booking is here
Four Major Hotel Companies
Invest in Meetings Venue Tech.
urban transformation
ICC Sydney and Partners
Showcase First State Super Theatre.
increasing priority for travelers
CWT research reveals
business travelers are more health-conscious during trips.
2nd meeting city in UK
Conference & event organisers encouraged
to ‘Make it Edinburgh’ as city strengthens position as UK no.1 for hotel investment & development.
new job
New director appointed for Meet in Reykjavík
- Reykjavík Convention Bureau.
The world’s first carbon-neutral constructed convention centre
- The CCD, attracts European clean electricity conference.
connecting the future
Ocean Science
fuel innovation and conferences in Victoria.
business Intelligence
Sixth consecutive record year:
Vancouver welcomed 10.7 million visitors in 2018.
Baltic Trade Show
returns to Vilnius in 2020.
AEG Ogden
Cairns Convention Centre
expansion great news for region, says CEO.
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Gaining Edge Scholars

Two young future leaders – Mercy Cherono Too and Stalin Tawanda Mau Mau – are the first recipients of Gaining Edge’s Scholar Programme which debuted in January this year.

As part of the organisation’s commitment to the industry, and as another extension of its CSR programmes, Gaining Edge has developed the Scholar programme which recognises the importance of providing meaningful work experiences to students who wish to pursue careers in the business events industry and who demonstrate outstanding potential for future industry leadership.

Every year, one student will serve as the Scholar for that year, and will work with the Gaining Edge team to develop a project which will accomplish the following:

  • Make a significant contribution to the industry.
  • Deliver a meaningful work/learning opportunity to the student.
  • Help the student to gain practical industry experience.
  • Provide a strong addition to the achievements section of the student’s CV.
  • Connect the student to an industry network that will help them pursue a successful career.

In 2018, the first year of this programme, Gaining Edge offered the internship opportunity to not one, but two, young and deserving scholars from Africa.

The first, Stalin Tawanda Mau Mau, (Master of Business Administration (General Management), Stamford International University Bangkok, Thailand) currently based in Bangkok, will work on the “Accessible Meetings” project.

This research project is a joint effort by Best Cities Global Alliance, Rehabilitation International and Gaining Edge for meetings organisers and the supplier community on how to remove barriers in meetings and conventions for delegates with special needs and make these business events more inclusive. The Report will include Best Practices, Case Studies with References and Guidelines for meeting planners.

Stalin Tawanda Mau Mau explains: “This Project aims to assist in better planning for and addressing the needs of convention visitors with disability and access issues. The research can assist policy and planning agencies in understanding the various elements that contribute to positive visitor experiences for participants with access issues and contribute to improved capacity building in the meetings industry.”

He studied Hospitality in South Africa and Turkey, up to Diploma level, and then moved to Thailand where he pursued a Bachelor’s in International Business majoring in Airline & Hospitality Management and subsequently a Masters in General Management.

And he was a winner of the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum University Challenge in Thailand in 2014 and credits his first-ever experience at IMEX Frankfurt in 2015 for igniting his interest in the meetings industry.

“It is such a huge honor to be Gaining Edge’s first Scholar, and I am very excited to be learning from and working with such industry veterans. The project is intended to be an eye opener, and indeed it has, even for me as I carry out the research.”

“To date we have received a tremendous amount of support for our “Accessible Meetings for All” project from Rehabilitation International and Best Cities Global Alliance and their industry partners. My upcoming trip to IMEX will be a one stop shop, providing me with an unparalleled opportunity to meet with a myriad of key project stakeholders all under one roof.”

“There are some great case studies of organisations and destinations continuing beyond where the conversation all too often ends, just at compliance. Legislation forces the hand of some, but we also see voluntary practices which are worth emulating. With this project, our goal is to expand the discussion on accessibility into the meetings industry arena so that we can keep the door to lifelong learning wide open to delegates with special needs.”

“Personally, as a Gaining Edge Scholar, I have also received access to a wealth of knowledge, experience and resources.”

The other Scholar this year is Mercy Cherono Too, BSc. Events and Convention Management, Technical University of Kenya. Her project aims to find out the current capacity of African associations and what factors (if any) are limiting their success and make recommendations for capacity building. This project is undertaken for the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE), and like the earlier “Accessible Meetings” project, is offered on a pro-bono basis by Gaining Edge with the full support of Talley Management Group Inc.

Mercy Tawanda Mau Mau explains: “The project’s Vision is to provide African associations with a way to harness their potential and map out a channel for their evolution. Besides developing AfSAE’s database of African associations, the study will focus on the current capacity of African associations while seeking to identify impactful solutions using training as a means to enhance the growth of the associations.”

This project is divided into two phases which focus on:

  • Phase 1 Building the current AfSAE database in terms of new membership and updating information on existing members.
  • Phase 2 A research study on the current capacity of African associations and identifying impactful solutions with a focus on using training as a means to enhance the growth of the associations.

Mercy Tawanda Mau Mau explains: “The project’s Vision is to provide African associations with a way to harness their potential and map out a channel for their evolution. The project aims to find out the current capacity of African associations and what factors (if any) are limiting their success. And more importantly, what can be done to further build their capacities.”

She was recently elected as the Congresswoman/School Representative for the School of Hospitality and Tourism in her school. She has diverse interests but the advancement of women in Africa is a course she is very passionate about. Last year, Mercy Tawanda Mau Mau developed a card game to be used as a facilitation tool for sexuality education in high schools across Kenya.

“I am excited about the fact that I get to do a research study that could shape the association landscape in Africa, which will go a long way in impacting the professional and economic development of people in Africa. I am happy I get to work alongside a great team at Gaining Edge, in building the only current database on African associations, which makes me part of a great contribution to business events in Africa and especially because we are connecting the African community.”

“I am learning that connecting people together is not an easy job. Our first phase is building the database. I can relate more now with the struggles new organisations face in getting members to subscribe. However, I am hopeful that with time, and polite reminders, we will get the responses we need.”

“I’m excited to be able to apply some of the theories I’ve learnt in class to a practical challenge. For example, I’m seeing how the adoption and diffusion process in communication models of marketing plays out in the real world.”

Gary Grimmer, CEO of Gaining Edge, explains that their Scholar programme is as focused on the long term as it is on the shorter-term goal of conducting an important project.

“We see our Scholars as a growing community. They are part of a legacy that we are seeking to deliver to the industry. That means that we provide them with ongoing mentorship and a continuing interest in their future success.”

“We are really pleased with how the programme has started. These two young scholars are both very high calibre and are already making a difference. Stalin is establishing important connections and beginning to document standards of accessibility in different parts of the world. Mercy is well on the way to doubling the size of AfSAE’s database and already started assessing association capacities during her visit to Meetings Africa in February.”