Shero article – Diana Frederiksen

I first met Diana early this year and she has quickly become an amazing colleague in the industry and now supporter of my journey as a mentee. Diana is vibrant, kind, and anyone who meets her is left positively impacted by her infectious energy.

She is currently a MICE Sales Manager at Hilton London Metropole, Hilton’s largest property outside of the US. Having worked for one of Europe’s largest congress centres, Stockholmsmassan in Sweden, she has over eight years’ experience of exhibition sales & operations, proactive and reactive MICE sales, destination marketing, and bidding association meetings and city-wide conventions.

She was a Fast Forward 15 mentee in 2019-2020, mentored by Carina Bauer (CEO of IMEX), was a founding member of ICCA’s Future Leaders Council and is currently leading Hilton London Metropole’s ESG committee.

You graduated from your Fast Forward 15 cohort during the start of the pandemic. What were you feeling during this time and how did you keep going?

There was a lot of uncertainty in May 2020. We were in the middle of the first lockdown and our whole mentee group (and event some mentors) had experiences of either being made redundant, clients pulling out, travel ceasing and job changes being put on hold. There was a lot of insecurity and change happening outside of our control, but I really did appreciate having the support of the FF15 cohort.

We chatted in the What’sApp group almost daily and went about planning our virtual charity event instead of the in-person one. We met on regular calls planning the event but also had an opportunity to vent and share our worries, experiences, hopes and fears. It was great having a forum of people in the same industry to talk to, as my experience in the industry differed from those around me.

How do you manage to stay involved within the Fast Forward 15 community each year?

One way is through our lovely WhatsApp Group – we still share job changes, questions, encouragement in it – and check in with each other when industry shows/awards etc. are coming up. The other is of course through the newsletter and LinkedIn, and the wide network that Fay has created.

Everyone is so supportive and open to talk about their experience as a mentee or a mentor in the programme. I’ve even met people like Ben Hoeksma and Jane Culcheth Beard who were both mentors my year, and who I have had the pleasure of meeting at my hotel. I also had the amazing opportunity to host a Winter Drinks Reception last year for FF15, bringing the community together again. I’m happy to support Fay and the mentees in any future endeavours, given how much the experience gave me and the generosity I felt from the community.

You were recently in Frankfurt at IMEX for being part of ICCA Future Leaders Council. Can you share with us your top three experiences or accomplishments from being on the council?

First, conducting one of the highest-responded surveys in ICCA, with our “social sustainability” survey that aimed to understand the experience of young professionals in the industry. One of our most interesting findings was that out of those who had studied relevant degrees, more than 50% had never heard of ICCA. (That first report can be found here)

Second: Conducting board presentations to the ICCA board was a career highlight. The experience in the room, the number of presentations they’ve seen, the strategic mindset they all have made it a real honour to present to the board and also receive some lovely feedback. To see heads nodding (or shaking!) and to be given a standing ovation after our final presentation is a memory I’ll remember forever!

Thirdly, the thing I am most proud of is the intense, close, and consistent collaboration I had with a fully virtual team for over two years, as well as being able to lead and support them for the last year of our term. We were based in eight different countries with a 16-hour time difference which was for sure a challenge. But the fact that we managed to complete 4 projects, countless meetings, give everyone board/council experience and leadership experience was the most important thing to come out of the ICCA FLC in my opinion. These council members are not only current and future leaders but also, I’m proud to say, my friends.

Being from Sweden, did you find it hard to break into the events industry in London?

One thing I love about the events industry in the UK and London is how large it is. There are networking events, showcases, membership organisations, Facebook groups and a definite presence on social media that make it not necessarily easy, but at the very least, a welcoming industry to break into. I found that my network gave me a lot of support- from being invited to other venue’s showcases to having a beer and being invited to a client’s supplier event – the friendliness was so welcome.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in the Events Industry?

I would tell them to be authentic and open; to always support each other and to have genuine conversations – not about work and business potential, but to listen and really understand your clients and partners. I would also advise them to set their boundaries early on, and to not be taken advantage of.

What is up next for Diana Frederiksen?

Right now, I want to focus on being as successful in my role as possible – but longer term, I’d love to work in another country, also try my hand at being client side although I love the venue aspect of this industry, I think it would be a great insight into the process – trying my hand at being the client for once.