< PrevNext > Monica Dickenson Shire head of global meetings & events Share Dickenson brought strategic meetings management to both legacy Baxalta and Shire pharmaceutical companies. She’s climbed through the ranks of meetings roles from operational to strategic, making her the kind of leader that arms her team with the confidence to excel. She spoke with BTN editor-in-chief Elizabeth West.Meetings is a female-dominated industry, but a lot of meetings roles, especially meeting planning, are behind the scenes. Does that change with SMM?Women have a strong voice in the meetings industry and hold leadership positions. Many of us began as planners and have grown into more strategic roles. I started as a meeting planner, then moved to more of an operations management role and then to account management with BCD M&E and with American Express. The shift to strategic meetings management is an important one for a company but also [for] a meeting professional. Everyone thinks they know meetings because they planned their daughter’s wedding, right? Meeting professionals set themselves apart by understanding strategy, automating processes and translating meetings [into terms] that the C-suite cares about. When we talk about meetings in terms of revenue, savings and risk, the C-suite starts to listen and meeting professionals, often women, get a seat at the table. With that comes the opportunity to show we are as smart, capable and creative as our male counterparts.You’ve worn nearly all the hats associated with meetings. Is that key to shifting into the strategic role?That was an important part for me, but I know other people who have jumped in at the strategic level. Having had the operations roles and account management roles, I can dive deep and set strategic plans based on my experience, but you also have to have transferrable skills like the ability to speak in front of people and present the stories that interpret the data. I also happen to love change and consider change management one of the skills in my wheelhouse.You do inspire confidence. I imagine that is part of your success as a change manager.I’m a positive person, and I believe in having a growth mind-set. Challenges and setbacks are turned into opportunities, and part of inspiring trust and confidence is to come to the table with solutions, not just problems or bad news. Also, I’m very aware of the importance of executive presence and putting my best self forward.I’ve never had anyone literally tell me that they cultivate executive presence.Executive presence, for me, is about maintaining composure under pressure and ensuring you are polished in your demeanor and even in your look. It’s also about being who you are. A lot of times, [people think that] when you work in corporate America, you have to be a certain way and that can be uncomfortable. Executive presence is just the opposite. It’s important for me to be myself at work and be comfortable in my own skin. You can still laugh and have fun at work and present yourself in a very genuine way. I teach executive presence to my team. It makes people more engaging and confident because they can be more authentic. A lot of it is confidence.Do you have role models or anyone who inspires you to be that better you?Bozoma Saint John, the chief brand officer at Uber, is someone who checks all the boxes for me. She is so authentic, yet she also has major gravitas and is a great speaker. She has broken the traditional C-suite glass ceiling, and she shows that you can be who you are in or out of the boardroom and be successful.If you had advice for ambitious meeting pros out there, what would it be?There’s nothing wrong with being humble—and I would consider myself humble in that I always look at my accomplishments as part of a team effort—but as women, we probably hurt ourselves professionally by not talking more about our accomplishments and showing our value individually within our companies, our communities and within our industries.