Bénédicte Losseau, the Director of Events, Europe at ASIS International and Partner at Exempla, is a seasoned event professional with a global track record of orchestrating meetings, conferences, and exhibitions across 20+ countries for 1000+ participants. With a focus on sectors like security, legal, financial, medical, manufacturing, and engineering, Bénédicte excels in delivering results-oriented projects within set budgets. Having entered the association sector from the meetings-side, Bénédicte appreciates the importance of associations in fostering unity and addressing societal challenges in today’s polarized world.

Bénédicte Losseau
Director of Events, Europe at ASIS International and Partner, Events & Operations at Exempla

Bénédicte’s Story: Discovering My Passion for Associations

Let’s face it, nobody goes to university with the plan to become an association manager. This is, at the same time, one of the major weaknesses in our profession, and a strength. You enter it from the meeting planning side, or through public affairs, or from the industry or profession that your association serves. Then, you must learn that managing the various aspects of an association is a profession in itself. But everybody bringing different education and experience to the table also creates a rich environment for a thriving association team.

As is the case with most people working in the association sphere, I arrived there by accident too, but I have no regrets. I love the fact that working for associations allows you to have a real impact that moves the needle on important societal issues. In our polarized societies where trust in institutions is eroding rapidly, associations occupy a crucial role in bringing people together and helping them find common ground. I would encourage students and young professionals to pursue a career in associations or association events.

Bénédicte’s Approach: How to #InspireInclusion through Our Work and Actions

ASIS International is a professional society of security management professionals. Although changing now, security management is traditionally a second-career profession for people with a background in law enforcement, intelligence, or the military. That makes it a very male-dominated profession.

For their ASIS Europe event we organize every year, we have encouraged, and successfully ensured that, despite the imbalance in the profession, the speakers and panels reflect diversity so they can inspire professionals from non-traditional backgrounds. At the 2023 event, both keynote speakers were women. The event also prominently features a DE&I function and actively supports ASIS’ Women in Security community.

Another global association I work for is SWE, the Society of Women Engineers, which helps women and minority groups succeed in their STEM careers, another often male-dominated work environment. My role is to help SWE grow their footprint in Europe, promoting gender diversity in the STEM field where there is a big gap, with special attention to intersectionality. Among others, our team runs regular virtual sessions that inspire, empower, and connect women in STEM. One of my current projects is to reach out to science and engineering universities to help them become more inclusive and create awareness programs for younger children, especially girls, to consider studying and pursuing a career in STEM. For SWE, I’ve also helped launch the European Corporate Council, which is a platform for large multinational companies to benchmark and improve their DEI&B practices.

Bénédicte’s Perspective: On the Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Associations

Diversity, equity, and inclusion – and I’d like to add a “B” for Belonging – are crucial for the future success of associations’, boards’, committees’, and professional staffs’, but also for society as a whole.

Innovative solutions will be critical if we want to tackle the huge challenges our society is facing in the years ahead. But these innovations won’t come from a standardized, uniform, and rigid mindset. They will come from the knowledge and idea sharing of a diverse group of people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, considered equal and listened to as equals, empowered by an inclusive environment where they feel they belong and can express their most daring ideas.

Our associations and our members are working on complex problems – and diverse perspectives will be vital to help us find solutions to those. I firmly believe that working with this approach, associations can be knowledge exchange platforms that shape the world, thrive and provide an example for other structures in our societies.

Bénédicte’s Initiatives: Actions and Inspirations for Fellow Association Leaders

Sometimes you need to push and show the way before things actually happen: your speaker lineup at events should not only reflect the diversity that already exists in your community but also aspire to reflect the diversity you want to achieve. Only by showing diversity can we be inclusive and only by being inclusive can we foster a feeling of belonging which is necessary to attract and retain talent in the industries and professions that associations represent.