New ELX CEO Nicola Kastner speaks with Smart Meetings about her latest venture

Nicola Kastner, the new CEO of Events Leaders Exchange (ELX), is excited to be amongst other leaders who are ambitious and knowledgeable so that true progression and communication can happen within the meetings and events industry.

Smart Meetings spoke with Kastner about what she brings to the table for ELX, what the future goals for ELX are and why groups like ELX—which has members that could be competitors, yet openly express their own opinions, grievances and suggestions for solutions—are an asset to the industry.

Q: How did you initially get involved in the meetings and events industry?

A: I was one of those rare people that actually studied it in school. I went to school a long time ago—back then, the internet wasn’t a thing. You had to book these packages, and there would be brochures. And I thought that’s the job I wanted to do. So I figured the best thing to do would be to study hospitality and I totally fell in love with the concept of how events could actually impact business performance.

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Q: What attracted you to Events Leaders Exchange?

A: The opportunity for me to lead a community of people who are just like me. These members are me. They’re all from different industries, but the challenges are the same. I think we all have a responsibility to pay it forward and leave the industry better than it was.\

“We are here to have a seat at the table, be part of the dialogue and to be a part of the conversation that members can take back to their own organizations.”

Q: What is the criteria for potential members to receive an invitation to ELX?

A: Three billion dollars in annual corporate revenue of a very complex event portfolio of over 100,000. There are some numbers around employees, but we don’t pay much attention to that. I don’t think it adds to the complexity.

Q: What do you feel are the qualities you bring to ELX, either professionally or personally?

A: I’m one of their own. I have walked more than a mile in their shoes, so I understand it. I think there’s a powerful lesson for anybody to learn in our industry—that you can grow up to be whatever you want. I’ve had a long and windy career path, and I am relatively well-known in the industry. So, my appointment just helps bring that visibility. It’s a win-win all around for the members, myself, as well for the organization.

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Q: What would you like our readers to know about ELX?

A: ELX is not a sales environment. We are here to have a seat at the table, be part of the dialogue and to be a part of the conversation that members can take back to their own organizations. They can improve their own products and services or whatever it may be.

This article appears in the May/June 2024 issues. You can subscribe to the magazine here.