Sofia Rodrigues is a passionate advocate for education and the association world. She firmly believes that education and professional communities have the power to enhance professional performance and drive change. Sofia’s mission is to empower professionals and organizations to reach their full potential through education.
Over the past 9 years, Sofia has dedicated herself to working with associations that support the development of the business events industry. She currently serves as the President and a board member of MPI Belgium-Luxembourg Chapter, as well as a member of the knowledge committee of the Events Industry Council (EIC). Through her involvement in these organizations, Sofia is committed to advancing the industry and supporting the growth of its professionals.
What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others?
I am a very mission-driven person and find it very fulfilling and motivating to know that my work will have a positive impact. Associations play a crucial role in advancing society and can significantly contribute to an individual’s professional development. When I started working for an association, its mission became my own. It gave me a deep sense of purpose and a high level of self-motivation, which are essential for my work and life.
I highly recommend a career in the association sector to anyone, especially if they are looking for a purpose-driven career and an opportunity to make a difference in a particular industry or field.
How do you/ your association #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? What are the challenges you encounter?
MPI is strongly committed to promoting and embracing diversity. We have a dedicated DEI committee and task forces that focus on raising awareness, developing resources, and creating initiatives. We have different communities within MPI to support the diversity of our membership base.
By working together, we have been able to support crucial campaigns and initiatives, such as the Inclusive Event Strategist Certificate Programme, the MPI State of Inclusion in Meetings & Events Report, Enhancing Speaker Diversity & Inclusion, and more. We are also committed to DEI at Chapter level – ensuring that it is considered in our decision-making processes, from board representation to the educational programs and activities we develop.
We recognize that one of the biggest challenges we face is communication. We need to ensure that our message of being an inclusive association reaches a wider audience of professionals within the industry.
How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects, and ideas can you share that help others understand the real value of DEI?
At the core of any association is the need to create a sense of community and belonging for its members and staff. Therefore, associations must prioritize fostering an inclusive business climate that values and respects all individuals.
Here are some examples that worked for us:
- Education programs to raise awareness and help meeting professionals learn strategies and tactics to embrace their role as inclusion brokers and keep inclusion at the center of their event’s design. An example is our Inclusive Event Strategist Certificate Programme.
- Special initiatives for young professionals entering the industry. An example is MPI creating a new role on our board for a VP Next Generation.
- We have also released a report on « The State of Inclusion in Meetings & Events, » which presents an overview of the results and offers best practices.