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SITE + MPI Global Forum: 5 Questions with Yash Desai

Yash Desai

Yash Desai, who has a degree in mechanical engineering and is now studying strategic event management and tourism management at the SKEMA Business School in France, won the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum University Challenge during the SITE + MPI Global Forum in Rome. He and two other competitors made presentations around building an event for a fictitious group, the Global Association of Young Architects. The competitors were tasked with developing the conference, including destination and venue selection, educational content, networking and social activities, as well as a well-defined funding plan. Desai’s presentation was selected, and he will now compete in the University Challenge finals at IMEX in Frankfurt later this year. The winner of that competition will be invited to attend either MPI’s World Education Congress in Indianapolis or MPI’s European Meetings and Events Conference next year in The Hague, Netherlands.

Tell us about how you approached the FLF project and how you built your case.
My thoughts and approach towards the FLF project were initially very complicated. I didn’t know how to align the numerous thoughts and ideas running through my mind. I started writing all the random thoughts on a piece of paper with respect to all key points that we were asked to highlight. These thoughts and ideas represented different dots. Therefore, I tried connecting all these dots to develop a story about the entire ‘experiential’ journey an attendee would go through. Apart from a mindset of an event planner, I placed myself in the shoes of those young architects and finally made a proposal out of it.

What does it mean for you to be able to attend and present at IMEX in Frankfurt?
It is really an emotional and exciting moment for me. I define this opportunity as an upcoming series of events that would shape my professional career. I believe winning or losing at such a global opportunity won’t be my priority--it would all be about healthy competition and the exchange of knowledge with my fellow finalists. It would be more about an opportunity to evaluate and learn from six different event planning solutions with respect to one single problem statement.   

What motivated you to pursue a career in the meeting and event industry?
I believe the monotonous and depressing time had in my life while I was studying mechanical engineering and my desire to search for a change connected me to events. I voluntarily started working in an event planning committee at my university and finally started experiencing different experiences and thrills while I got more involved into event planning. My key roles were to raise sponsorship, maintaining relationships with suppliers and media, developing marketing ideas and training aspiring stage actors. These roles built a sense of responsibility and ability to enjoy extreme pressure, which I had never experienced in my life. Apart from that, I was strongly mentored by our director of international affairs and events, Shraddha Mavani, who pushed me to achieve impossible objectives.          

Tell us about your family.
My family is all about my grandparents and a bunch of amazing friends I have. My parents passed away at a very early stage of my life. I grew up to be a ‘23-year-old’ dear grandson to my grandparents. They have been like my pillars to support and make me achieve all the goals I dream to achieve. My bonding with them is full of joy and love. My grandmother is a tech geek who operates WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube. She learned the stock market at the age of 73 to support my education and our family.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?
Give it all you got and never regret. This advice was given by my uncle. He always told me to work hard on all the tasks that I come across so that I never regret.

About the Author

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.