Nikki Walker, the Global Vice President of Associations & Communities at MCI, has over 30 years of experience in managing, advising, and growing associations globally. She has a strong passion for helping international associations in designing their global strategy, developing relevant value propositions, and penetrating new markets.
Nikki’s association management career started in Brussels and then took her to Dubai, where she helped establish the initial concept of the Dubai Association Centre in 2011. At MCI, she leads a team of association professionals who work with association clients across five continents, providing guidance and support to achieve their goals. With her expertise and knowledge, Nikki is dedicated to ensuring that MCI’s association clients succeed in their respective industries.
What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others?
I love the diversity of working with multiple associations and impacting professional development, advancing learning, discovery, guidelines, industry best practices, and more. I am privileged to work with associations in multiple industries and professions and help advance their impact on the communities they serve.
I would highly recommend this career – it is impossible to get bored. I have been learning every day from all the talented association leaders I work with, and our combined impact is immeasurable.
How do you #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? What are the challenges you encounter?
Giving a voice is crucial – but needs to be done in a structured format. Sadly, there is still a predominance of male white voices in international association boards, but this is changing.
In 2022, I consulted and guided a European medical association through its strategic planning and visioning. When asked if I would help them, my simple answer was – not unless we involve younger members, diverse career phases, backgrounds, experiences, nationalities, and a healthy gender mix. I was given carte blanche to make this happen, ensuring that representative voices contributed to the future desired state, relevance, and strategy for the association.
How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects and ideas can you share that help other understand the real value of DEI?
For me, the most important DEI consideration for associations is embracing the next generation in the strategy and development of the organization. The younger members are the future, and they must have a voice in designing the relevance of their association for themselves and their world.
Our Association Engagement Index (AEI) provides global data and clear indications of the importance of engaging the younger generation so that they advocate for their association. This data shows they are the least likely to recommend their association today. Associations must work to change this.