A real industry of the future

// Katrin Schmitt

Mathias Posch, President and Partner of International Conference Services (ICS) in Singapore and President of the International Associations of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), on the greatest challenges for PCOs and 50 years of IAPCO.

Mathias Posch ist Vorsitzender und Partner von ICS - International Conference Services in Singapur sowie seit 2018 Präsident der IAPCO. Photo: ICS

CIM: What was your highlight at the 50th IAPCO Annual Meeting and General Assembly 2019 at Congress Center Basel?
Mathias Posch: The “Golden Gala” will be a lasting memory for me. The fact that so many former IAPCO Presidents came to Basel shows what a special association we are with such enthusiastic and proud members. It makes me feel part of something special. We offered a programme that focuses on the next 50 years, with evening events celebrating the past and present. This was a successful balancing act.

What has the IAPCO family achieved in the past 50 years?
It is difficult to explain that the members, who are competitors in everyday life, are so closely connected. They have much more in common than divides them – this is the greatest achievement. IAPCO represents the industry, we have great, common goals that shape the industry, customers and their mission. That‘s the biggest gain.

You’ve been IAPCO President since 2018. Your upshot so far?
I’m very happy. We have a new CEO, have revamped the website and app, and rejuvenated our magazine, The PCO. The EDGE seminars posted a record attendance. The Connectors initiative helps our 9,000 staff members of our employees get the most out of the IAPCO family‘s network and knowledge. The Outreach programme is to help them offer high-quality congress management in emerging markets. The Ticky the Turtle campaign aims to rid the meetings industry of single-use plastic. The Web Edge Task Force revolutionises our online education programme. All this is only possible because of the unwavering commitment of the team, the council and the members.

What are the greatest challenges for PCOs today?
To make customers aware of the value of a PCO, to find and retain good staff, etc. Many companies are striving for relevance; and PCOs act as strategic advisors. They also need to be agile and adaptable – to anything from restrictions to new congress formats. Our world is changing so rapidly and so massively that we constantly need to reinvent our job.

What else does IAPCO do to support its members?
Education, communication and information are essential for our quality assurance. We keep our members up to date on best practices and case studies with The PCO, our member newsletter, and our online knowledge hub. Seminars for members and interested parties at trade fairs as well as our current EDGE seminars round off our services. The annual meeting is intended to encourage people to look far beyond their own horizons and to communicate.

Why did you become a PCO, why in Singapore?
I am the President and Partner of the global ICS Group. I see a lot of potential for our industry and ICS in Asia. Like many people, I became a PCO rather by accident. I was looking for challenges and mobility. I found it in the congress business because it gives me insight into many scientific fields. It enables me to help address great medical and scientific challenges.

Is there also a lack of skilled professionals in Singapore?
Itʼs a global problem. Nevertheless: The professionals are outstandingly well-trained. In Asia there is an excellent market for young talents. Their commitment is strong and the level of training is often very high.

What advice would you like to give talents who want to become PCOs?
Experiment, engage and co-create: Our industry is a real industry of the future. Every day we deal with major questions of the future. For young people being a PCO is a job that is constantly being updated and offers them challenges that broaden their horizons.

Thank you very much, Mr. Posch!