Teamwork makes the dream work

MCI Hong Kong's Charmian Tsui shares leadership lessons for an ever-evolving industry. 

Leading up to International Women's Day, M&C Asia spoke to the senior event producer at MCI Hong Kong and Macau about the ever-evolving nature of events, and what it means to lead a team through a pandemic.

In a time when events can happen anywhere and anytime, we can breakdown traditional barriers — like language and location — and bring more people together.

This is the current reality for many event professionals as the industry continues to navigate virtual and hybrid events.

For Charmian Tsui, senior event producer at MCI Hong Kong and Macau, the Covid-19 crisis has also highlighted the importance of teamwork — and breaking down communication barriers — while working remotely.

"The pandemic has shown me how versatility, flexibility and trust among the team is critical," she said. Tsui leads MCI's team in Hong Kong and, after more than a decade in experiential marketing, she's more determined than ever to reimagine her career in the industry.

In the lead-up to International Women's Day, we spoke to Tsui about the ever-evolving nature of events, and what it means to lead a team through a pandemic.

Tell us about your biggest challenge/achievement in 2020.

One of the biggest challenges in early 2020 was how to keep the team motivated and engaged while working remotely. Combine that with an abrupt shift from live to virtual, it was natural for the team to feel uncertain and confused. At the end of the day, clear communication, being flexible and simply being human is what helped us get through that time.

My biggest achievement last year was leading the team to successfully shift what used to be a traditional conference into a hybrid experience at the peak of the pandemic. At the time, our clients were still very much accustomed to the conventional conference format.

Fortunately, the team had dived into hybrid experience and digital communications long before the pandemic, equipping us with the right skills, experience and technology to walk alongside our clients and guide them through the uncertain times.

What is your main driver for motivation?

A key driver last year was actually team spirit. During such a challenging time, a single person alone cannot keep everything together. I’m fortunate to have a team who is willing to go that extra mile and is selfless in their contributions. My team is definitely what motivates me as we learn and grow together in this new normal.

How would you describe industry sentiment right now?

My word for 2021 is 'resilience'. Last year taught us that anything is possible and that the events industry, in particular, is constantly evolving and highly adaptable. For now, let’s continue to be resilient and be positive for what’s to come.

As an industry, what can we do to “build back better” to ensure greater equality and inclusion?

Going digital and virtual is a great start to equality and inclusion in the industry. Now, experiences can happen anywhere, anytime. Presenters, entertainment, audiences, and the production crew no longer need to be in the same place at the same time, and they can join the event through many different channels. So, location and language are no longer barriers when it comes to selecting partners.

How would you describe the road to recovery for the events industry?

I wouldn’t use the word 'recovery' actually; I would like to think the events industry is and will continue to evolve. Events and conferences will not go back to the old ways, and for the event industry to come back stronger, we will need to learn and adapt to new methodologies and technologies. So it’s not about recovering, it’s about evolving. We must change our mindset to create and venture into the new normal.