Silke Calder: “The world of work is changing – let’s embrace it!”

AIME event director Silke Calder shares how a flexible mindset and supportive workplace culture made navigating recruitment in the midst of a pandemic a little easier.

As the industry sharpens its sights on its rebuild and revival in 2022, AIME event director Silke Calder shares her reflections on navigating recruitment in the midst of a pandemic and how a flexible mindset and supportive workplace culture made the journey a little easier.

AIME event director Silke Calder
AIME event director Silke Calder.

Why do you believe embracing change is so important for recruitment in the business events industry?
The events sector is proficient in creative thinking and adapting to change – navigating change is the very essence of what we do. So, when the pandemic led to an exodus from our workforce, we needed to think outside the box and be willing to recruit differently to deal with the unfolding skills shortage and evolving recruitment processes.

For the Talk 2 Media & Events team, this meant recruiting Australia-wide, being willing to hire people who were juggling other demands, embracing the work-from-home philosophy wholeheartedly, and looking outside the industry to find talent.

Employing people with industry experience is ideal, but when you recruit people based on shared values, you end up with a diverse mix of talented individuals who together create a very strong team. This is what sees events like AIME truly succeed.

Having built a new team during Melbourne’s lockdown, what was the most important thing you learnt?
There are two things; the first is to embrace flexibility, and the second is that there are many ways to build connection.

Lockdowns have proven that we can be productive working from home. This enabled us to hire members in Brisbane and Sydney who could dial-in and travel to Melbourne when they need to. I’m grateful to be part of a team that recognises the importance of flexibility as this is what has allowed the team to thrive.

Connecting with the team and welcoming one another into each other’s homes on video calls every day has fostered a familiarity and seen us build wonderful bonds.

What advice do you have for recruiting for the events sector in 2022 and beyond?
My best advice is to reach out and talk to one another – keep the doors of communication open. We can all be part of the solution and whilst it’s not smooth sailing yet, the path through is one led by unification and collaboration. I think the ‘hybrid’ model of working is here to stay.

Employees expect and need flexibility. Our industry has a strong female demographic – many of whom are mums – and families are juggling challenges never seen before. Being part of a team that understands and supports this is incredibly important. Change is inevitable and the only true way to experience success amid change, is by employers and employees coming together.

When it comes to overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, are there any partners that really inspire you?
I am proud of all our event partners and suppliers, they’ve each had to overcome their own adversities. Their resilience and ongoing commitment to innovate and keep the industry alive is truly inspiring. As hard as it’s been (and there have been some rocky moments), I am humbled to be part of such a resilient and welcoming community.

What are you most looking forward to at AIME 2022?
I’m most looking forward to three things. Firstly, reuniting with our industry and community after what has been a surreal two years of challenges – we’ve done the hard yards and we’re due for our celebration.

Secondly, supporting businesses with supercharging their recovery and revival. AIME has a long-standing reputation for uniting the best-of-the-best and we’ve spent a lot of time over the past two years reshaping aspects of the program to ensure we’re giving everyone the greatest opportunity to build meaningful connections and fill their pipelines for 2022 and beyond.

Lastly, all thriving together. The unification of the industry is more important than ever and it’s through collaboration that we’ll shine again.

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