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Helping Associations Grow: Meet our Association Expert, Nikki Walker

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Nikki Walker, MCI’s Vice President Association Management and Consulting, was recently interviewed by Headquarters Magazine, Asia-Pacific. The interview explores her relocation to Dubai – a rapidly growing association hub, how she helps associations stay relevant and the global trends shaping the association community today.

Check out some of the highlights from Nikki’s interview below:

Q.1 How would you present yourself to the people who don’t know you?
Nikki: In the professional world, I jump right in with the fact that associations are in my DNA! I’ve been helping associations around the world grow, perform, articulate and deliver their value proposition, ensure their relevance, develop strategy, master trends and the changing rules of engagement, for the last twenty years.

Q.2 You’ve been working in Dubai for 4 years now – what took you to Dubai?
Nikki: Initially I led MCI’s global association management and consulting (AM&C) division from our Brussels office. Having helped many associations grow in Europe, we were being asked by our clients to help them develop new markets. Many of our global associations were targeting the emerging economies as their future growth markets and areas of expansion. As clients started to demand more and more expertise from MCI in emerging economies, we needed to reinforce our competencies in key offices in these markets. Plus I was going around the world advocating the huge opportunities for associations in these high growth markets – what better way to speak with authority and illustrate those opportunities than by actually living and experiencing them.

Q.3 In what way(s)/why is Dubai attracting international associations? What’s the purpose of the Dubai Association Centre and what is MCI’s role in it?
Nikki: Dubai’s location “in the middle” of the world, with two thirds of the global population being less than an 8 hour flight away, has proven time and time again to result in a notable peak in associations’ congress attendance. Dubai is also a recognized regional hub, easily attracting professionals from North Africa, the Levant, and the GCC for any type of educational programme – workshops, trainings or conferences. These were some of the factors that influenced the creation of the Dubai Association Center (DAC) as a regional hub for international associations. International professional and trade associations are now legally able to incorporate and conduct business in the region through a licence from the DAC, including opening a bank account and hiring their own staff or working through us – MCI is the official strategic partner to the DAC.

Q.4. What are the latest trends in the association world?
Nikki: Relevance in a changing world, the rules of engagement, different member models, value, return on investment, demographics, social media, new business models, revenue diversification, leaner quicker governance, increased and diverse competition, customer centricity, segmentation, being the trusted authority and aggregator of content in the world of information overload, are amongst the topics that associations are grappling with.  Technology and social media in particular, have changed the world order for associations demanding that they adapt and find new ways of working. If I had to sum it up with one word it would be “engagement”. Associations must find new ways of engaging their stakeholders and target audiences. Membership must be on “my” terms – let me choose. The younger generations are not interested in the governance models of the past. Value and ROI is defined by the target audience (not the association) and segmentation is imperative.

To read the full interview with Nikki, download a copy of the magazine here.

To find out how Nikki and her team can help your association stay relevant, contact us on mci-group-communication@mci-group.com.

This content originally appeared in Headquarters Magazine, Asia-Pacific

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