mariska_kesteloo

Kongres Magazine talked to Mariska Kesteloo, Founder of Word of MICE, who was recently named among the top 10 Most Influential Meeting Innovators in 2021. Mariska shared her advice for newcomers in the meetings industry and expressed her opinion on the future of events.

Q1: What does the title of the industry’s most influential individual in the region mean to you?

To be honest, I was surprised and, of course, honoured to receive this title. It came as a total surprise. It is nice to be recognised for the work I do for the industry.

Q2: Can we say that you are a newcomer in the meetings industry? What inspires you?

I do not feel like a newcomer, as I have been working in the industry for ten years now. I am an entrepreneur who loves to follow new trends and developments in our industry, not only related to marketing but also in other areas, like technology.

Q3: You have contributed a lot to the development of the meetings industry. What would you say was your greatest achievement so far?

I have been the President of MPI Belgium and active on the board for many years including on a European level. But the biggest achievement was that I started coaching an employee in May 2020 (due to Corona). David Preston encouraged me to apply as a mentor of the Elevate program, which I did. I started as a mentor and encouraged my mentee to start her own company. We finally met live at the booth of her company during IBTM in 2021. That was for me the biggest achievement and such a grateful moment.

mariska_kesteloo

“Our industry has changed, and we need new people, refreshing ideas, new perspectives and disruptors.”

Q4: What changes would you like to see in the meetings industry in 2022?

I would love to see more young people and talent entering our industry. Our industry has changed, and we need new people, refreshing ideas, new perspectives and disruptors.

Q5: What is your prediction for the future of meetings?

I hope to see more diverse leaders and young people entering the industry – that is my hope, not a prediction. And I would love to see a change in our industry, the world has changed, but I do not see this change back in the daily business, which is a pity and a huge missed opportunity.

Q6: What is your advice for young colleagues making their way in the meetings industry?

It is a fantastic industry, with lots of opportunities for young and dynamic people. And you can learn so much. We need you! And in case you need support, just call me or anyone else, we will get you there.

mariska_kesteloo
Photo Credit: Word of MICE

“Our industry has always been a strange duck in the water; perhaps we need these lists to acknowledge the amazing people in our industry.”

Q7: Were you more exposed in public after being placed on our list? Do you see this as an opportunity to reinforce the prominence of our industry in general?

I am not sure, to be honest. As I said, it is always nice to be recognised. I would like to see more people doing a great job behind the scenes and who are not active on social media. Our industry has always been a strange duck in the water; perhaps we need these lists to acknowledge the amazing people in our industry.

Q8: What are your thoughts on our selection of the influencers?

An interesting and inspiring group of people, considering I doubt I have met one of them. I hope to see a more diverse group of people on the list as our industry consists of at least 70% women.

Q9: In your opinion, who deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to choose from the finalists yourself?

Lots of people deserve the title Top influencer, and it is impossible to give just one name.