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Organising Medical Conferences is IMU Alumna’s Forte

20 Apr 2017

Chloe Lai is the only Asian who won 2017’s PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties programme. This award which is supported by the PCMA Education Foundation and Visit Seattle, is for candidates who are 29 years or younger and employed full time in the business-events industry, and demonstrate ways they consider themselves to be industry leaders. Winners received complimentary PCMA membership along with registration to both PCMA Convening Leaders 2018 in January and the 2018 PCMA Education Conference in June. They’ll also be honored from the stage at Convening Leaders.

What should I do now that I have graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at IMU? This is the question that was in the mind of Chloe Lai. She was fortunate to be recommended for the position of a Project Assistant from her lecturer who understood her passion in event organising. “Without any hesitation, I submitted my resume with the thought “Why not try something new since I found out that I love organisng and attending events?” and there began my journey with Medical Conference Partners, a world class medical conference organiser. I remember clearly during my interview with my Director, Dee Dee Quah, when I asked her about my job scope. Her answer was “Basically, you do everything and anything”. I was shocked when I heard that but decided to give it a try. True enough, the “Do everything and anything” statement was quite literal” With this as a start, Chloe has progressed in the company, to Project Executive, then to Senior Project Executive and is now a Project Manager. Chloe added, “I always introduce myself as a Medical Conference Organiser instead of Event Organiser. We work together with the medical societies to deliver world class medical conferences to promote continuous medical education. Recently, we have expanded our repertoire to include cadaveric workshops to further enhance the learning experience of the delegates.”

What we do
Work hand in hand with medical associations or societies to plan and organize medical conferences. This involves budgeting, planning of timeline, closely following and monitoring the scientific programme and finally, the execution of event.
International and National speaker management (Manage communication on flight tickets, airport transfer, accommodation, presentation slides, tour etc)
Online registration management (Payment / invoicing)
Sponsorship management
Promotion and marketing of the conference
Abstract management
VIP for Opening Ceremony (We have to liaise with the protocol department to make sure rehearsal and all the arrangements are made accordingly.) “I never knew what a tedious process it was until I experienced it).”
Social programme for conference (Faculty dinner, conference dinner and spouse tour)
Opportunity to liaise with exhibition booth contractor and venue management (room set-up & teardown, layout, F&B); web developer, printer, appointed Audio Visual contractor.

After working 3 years in this company, the company has expanded into the management of Asia Pacific conferences. ChIoe was selected to represent the Malaysian Osteoporosis Society and the Malaysian Association Study of Pain who both won bids to organise Asian level conferences in Malaysia.

“I work closely with the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) and the state’s Convention and Exhibition Bureau on these conferences to promote the state and Malaysia as a destination for overseas delegates to visit Malaysia. I am proud that I can represent Malaysia on an international platform and promote my country. I am also proud that as a medical conference organiser, we play an important role in boosting the Malaysian economy and creating more jobs for Malaysians).”

She added, “I do not use my specific training as a dietitian for my job scope, but occasionally, I will give advice to my colleagues on healthy eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

Did IMU prepare you well for the work environment
Yes, my time at IMU prepared me well enough to take on and manage the dynamic working environment at Medical Conference Partners:
Firstly, I have acquired a good working knowledge of the medical field so it is easier for me to understand the scientific terms and communicate effectively with my clients, who are surgeons and doctors.
Being the Student Ambassador for the year 2014 helped me in understanding the roles of each healthcare profession because I had to represent IMU and promote the courses offered to the public. IMU encourages and promotes multidisciplinary collaboration. With the student ambassador programme, I got to know more about what other course modules were like and how they complement each other in terms of providing holistic healthcare to patients. The conferences organised by us are not purely for one profession but involves other professions such as Dietitians, Pharmacists, Doctors, Nurses, Pain Specialists, Psychologists and other allied health professionals, coming together and playing their respective roles to ensure the best outcome for the patients.
I used to be actively participate in co-curricular activities in IMU, involving myself in the IMU Cup and Charity events. This polished my organisation skills, time management and communication skills.
OSCE and Problem Based Learning (PBL) trained me to be more vocal and helped me a lot in building my confidence to justify my point of view/suggestions. It taught me critical thinking and to solve problems independently, with minimal spoon-feeding.
I found doing a Reflective Diary works well for me as it helps me in reflecting and evaluating myself. It serves as a constant reminder to me on my attitude towards my family, work and my life.

For Chloe, the most memorable moment at IMU is the IMU Cup competition. She loves to connect with people and the IMU Cup was the best opportunity for her to meet students other than her classmates. Everyone who was interested in sports would come together as one to train hard for competitions/tournaments to achieve the same goal for their house. This was where friendships are built and where multidisciplinary collaborations began.

Your future plans I am going to attend a Professional Conference Management (PCM) Course and sit for a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) examination. The CMP credential is recognised globally as the badge of excellence in the meeting, convention, exhibition, and event industry. Once I pass the exam, I will be a qualified Professional Conference Organizer (PCO).

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