Custard Interview: Jane Longhurst

By Lesley Whyte

This month we caught up with Jane Longhurst, Chief Executive of the Meetings Industry Association (mia).

The last twelve months have been exceptionally busy for the mia, which offers a critical voice for education, training and best practice and works tirelessly to bring together every group in the meetings and events sector.

2018 has seen the mia continue to provide clarity around the big issues and offering ongoing guidance on key areas such as BREXIT, GDPR and the mental wellbeing of the sector as well as recognising the best talent in the industry with its prestigious miaList and launching a new website.

Tell us about your background and experience in the meetings and events industry

I have a strong event management background, spanning nearly 30 years having directed events departments for Macmillan Publishing, EMAP Healthcare and the IET.

Tell us something people would never guess about you?

I am the Vice Chair of the French Spaniels Club UK.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who want to innovate and to do so they are prepared to take risks.  It’s easy to follow but having the imagination and the courage to take a risk, whether that’s to launch something totally new or simply to take an existing product or service and do it differently, I think is a quality that we would all benefit from.  There are some fantastic examples in the hospitality industry of entrepreneurial individuals who have broken the mould and who are delivering business innovation that is different and exciting but for me it’s the examples outside of our own industry that are truly inspiring.  The most inspirational individuals and organisations put innovation first, they operate without bounds, and they are tenacious; qualities that can and in many cases will change the way we live.

What have been your key achievements at the mia?

The development of AIM, the national quality standard for the meetings industry in April 2007. During my time at the mia, I have taken the association through change and development, creating a strong, sustainable future.

What are your predictions for the MICE sector in 2018?

Over the next 12 months as we continue to face the uncertainties and challenges caused by leaving the European Union, organisations in the sector will come under increasing pressure to retain and look after their talented staff. From our own research examining the mental wellbeing of the sector, we are extremely aware that the industry both needs and requires more compassionate workplaces to make it a more desirable and rewarding place to work. As part of our continued efforts to attract and retain talent, a key part of the mia’s work for 2018 will be supporting the sector with a number of dedicated workshops to create environments to foster improved wellbeing. To find out more, visit https://www.mia-uk.org/.