Alissa Hurley’s first job shared office space with a company that produced technology conferences and trade shows. They were producing a large trade show and needed additional support for the event and the next thing she knew, Hurley was the conference coordinator for the largest technology show in Canada.
“It was an incredible experience that combined my organizational skills, creativity and passion for technology. I decided that this was the career for me and continued to look for future opportunities in events with corporations, agencies and supplier-side,” she says.
Those opportunities have helped Hurley to build a successful and rewarding career in the events industry. Recognized as an industry leader, she has more than 25 years of experience in corporate event management, incentive travel operations, destination management and marketing communications. Currently, as vice president, Canada for McVeigh Global Meetings and Events, she leads a team of event professionals who provide meeting management, creative services, and event production solutions.
As an advocate for industry education, Hurley spent several years as a member of the faculty for the Event Management Certificate Program at Mount Royal University. In 2016, Hurley became the first Certified Event Designer (CED) in Canada and the first certified instructor of the Event Canvas methodology in North America. She achieved the Certified Meeting Manager (CMM) designation in 2002.
“My industry certifications have been extremely valuable for me and a great complement to my experiences along the way,” says Hurley. “What I am most proud of is the opportunity I have had to educate event professionals across Canada on event strategy and design. It is for that privilege, that I was inducted by my peers into the Canadian Meetings & Events Hall of Fame as an Industry Innovator.”
For the industry veteran, the best part of her job is seeing the impact that events have on the client’s business objectives.
“Whether it be educational, motivational, or celebratory, I really get excited about how a single event helps drive an organization’s overall business strategy,” she says.
Hurley is also active within the industry. She has been a member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) for more than 20 years and is the current president-elect of the MPI Toronto Chapter.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
Professionally, I’m pleased to have worked with clients to create some once-in-a-lifetime experiences in global destinations or around major sporting events such as the Olympics and Tour de France. I was also provided an opportunity to contribute to the building and growth of a national event production company.
What are some challenges for the industry?
The greatest challenge for our industry today is people. Organizations now understand the value of meetings and events to their businesses – that’s clearly demonstrated by the rebound we have seen of meetings and events this year. The challenge is our industry lost so many talented people during the pandemic and caused many to consider this industry too volatile to enter. This is a widespread challenge across all levels of this industry, and we have much work to do to rebuild interest in a career in meetings and events.
What advice would you offer others entering the industry?
My advice is to be a sponge. Be open to take on new experiences, because they are opportunities to learn and grow. There is no industry more diverse in terms of opportunities to build skills, create impactful experiences and meet incredible people along the way.