Women in Exhibitions founder Oana Cipca tells EN about the expanding network and how its mentorship programme aims to support the next generation of women leaders in the exhibitions industry
The events industry is made up of an abundance of talented, female professionals, so much in fact, that the majority of our industry is made up of them. Therefore, to ensure the continued development of this community and to provide opportunities for them to meet and network, Women in Exhibitions was born. To find out about the network’s reach, mentorship programme and virtual events, we spoke to Oana Cipca, founder of Women in Exhibitions.
Since the success of its launch in 2018, Women in Exhibitions has expanded and created different chapters all around the world, including the UK, Germany, the Middle East and North America. “As the founder of Women in Exhibitons, I feel proud of what we have achieved so far,” beams Cipca.
“The process of expanding the Women in Exhibitions network to multiple countries has been a wonderful journey and we are still building on this,” says Cipca. She reveals that the network intends to open new chapters in the Netherlands, Italy, Asia and South America. “Through these chapters, we aim to become accessible to more networks of women, allowing us to reach their specific community, culture and challenges, in both a regional and international context,” she says. Putting this philosophy into practice, Cipca makes a call of action to all female eventprofs, asking them to contact her and assist in building this future together.
While Cipca is primarily understood and known to be the founder of Women in Exhibitions, she also tells me how she embodies the role of a community builder too. Cipca argues that by building a strong community that supports each other, like Women in Exhibitions, “it gives us the power to create awareness about the things that have to change, whilst still having fun along the way.” For Cipca, working to build this community of women is “a crucial process that fosters connections amongst people and creates an infrastructure for these connections to happen.”
Mentoring the next generation of women
Women in Exhibitions is doing a fantastic job in not only supporting current female leaders all around the world, but also in paving the way and empowering the future generation of female leaders. “The younger generation in the exhibitions industry are eager to learn, be advised and be helped in the process of their career development,” argues Cipca.
To cater to the next generation, Women in Exhibitions has developed a 12 month-long mentoring programme for its UK members, which works by pairing a mentee with “top industry players,” states Cipca. From the likes of Alision Jackson, managing director of Nineteen Group and Soraya Gabelrab, director of Reventalize, to Ruth Carter, director of Red Rox Advisory and Damion Angus, managing director of Montgomery Group. These are only a few of the industry players who “bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the programme,” adds Cipca and therefore, are the perfect mentors.
Over the course of the year, each mentee has access to 12 hour-long sessions and is assigned two mentors, one for the first six months and the other for the remaining six months. This split provides the mentees with a mix of styles and experiences, ultimately “doubling their development and potential,” says Cipca. Mentees even have the opportunity to personalise each session, setting their own learning agendas and goals. “In this programme, we have found that mentees often have burning topics to discuss and this platform offers them the opporunity to pass obstacles in their careers by learning from the most experienced in the industry,” states Cipca. What’s better than learning from some of our very best?
Empowering women in the virtual world
Despite the impact of the pandemic, which has restricted in-person events, Women in Exhibitions has continued to support and network with its community virtually by hosting a series of webinars. “To name a few, we have ‘Bitesize Sessions’ on topics such as effective networking, ‘Layered Development Programmes’ on communication and influencing as well as informal sessions like our ‘Fireside Chats’ where we have a guest discuss a certain topic,” she reveals. Cipca tells me that all the webinars strive to create the opportunity to “exchange knowledge and send empowering messages to our industry,” which she believes is particularly important as we survive one of the biggest challenges in our history, the pandemic.