01 Jun 2021

memcom 2021: what's next? From the speakers.

From 8th - 10th June, we’re excited to bring the leaders of the professional membership sector memcom 2021: What’s Next? With the whole world coming to a halt in 2020 and demand on trade associations and professional membership organisations peaking, we saw over and over that leaders in our sector didn’t have the time or headspace to come up for a breath and reflect or plan for the future. Now that the light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel, we wanted to address this issue, bringing you - the leaders in the sector - a conference that offers a space to think about ‘what is next’ for you, your organisation, the sector and wider society. 

Speakers at this year’s conference will be addressing themes far and wide from the changing nature of the workplace to mental health, the economic vision over the next decade to building sustainable business models, how membership organisations can lead the way in EDI to the race to net zero, the future of membership technology to the changing nature of member expectations post COVID.

Before the conference next week, we’ve been catching up with some of our speakers to ask them their thoughts on the future trends in their areas of expertise…


Jennifer Jenkins, Director at Worldspan. Speaking at ‘Latest trends and the future of events’ on Tuesday 8th June. 

“Association events – conferencing especially – will enjoy a resurgence.  Absence has made the heart grow fonder as people place new value on serendipitous networking and making new professional connections. But online versus offline access – and choices – will make the user journey utterly customisable. Attendees will choose when they join, how they join and, importantly, what they pay for the privilege. Don’t be distracted by the debate around hybrid.  The real challenge is sponsorship and commercial support. I predict a radical re-think.”


Ama Afrifa-Tchie, Head of People at Wellbeing & Equity. Speaking at ‘Mental Health at Work’ on Tuesday 8th June. 

“Whilst we are always on the lookout for new industry trends, we need to be cautious about using the word ‘trend’ when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, so we are not quick to glaze over matters that still need to be addressed. Moreover, although things evolve, for real change to happen and be embedded it needs to have a lasting and sustainability impact. To answer the question, ‘what next?’ I think we should think about the following not only from a workplace but a societal perspective;

  • Workplace culture - how inclusion and mental health impacts an individual’s whole self. Empowering employees to bring their whole self to work, and support their own and other’s wellbeing.
  • Equity and inequalities in mental health – knowing how society and workplaces play a key role in creating a society where everyone’s mental health matters.
  • Changing the narrative – coming back to the point around mental health and inclusion, ensuring not only that the stories told are diverse, but the change that comes is truly equitable.


Suzanne Peck, Managing Director at Sequel Group and President of the Institute of Internal Communication. Speaking at ‘Future of member communications - adding real value for your members’ on Tuesday 8th June.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that communication that’s ‘human-centred’ is really key to maintaining membership engagement. I think we’ve all got a lot closer to our members in the past 15 months and there’s no going back. We’re better at understanding what they value, we’ve heard more of their stories and shared their experiences which for me, brings ‘human’ into a much sharper focus. Most of us have had to rethink channels, content and strategy, as well as speeding up the flow of our communications. We’re also actively listening to - and acting on – member feedback, and this is shaping the ‘human’ tone and style for future communications.”


David D’Souza, Director of Membership at Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Speaking at ‘Digital Inclusion: Tackling the digital/social divide’ on Tuesday 8th June.

“The next few years will see membership organisations pressed to deliver on multiple fronts. An increased focus on sustainability and purpose will be expected by members, but in parallel, there is an expectation that content, community and customer experience will be delivered in a seamless way utilising technology. Maintaining or increasing the connection that members have to the organisation - and each other - through technology will be key. Bringing their voice and capability to the fore yet making an interaction enabled by technology still feel like a personal connection. We need to be able to listen to and adapt to need at the speed of the very best of modern retailers whilst in parallel providing leadership, voice and influence with confidence and impact. Improvised jazz being played over a classic tune. Expectations have never been higher. 

As membership organisations, we both serve and lead. The better we serve the needs of our members the stronger a position we will be in to credibly lead them or influence on their behalf. We are a relatively unique sector in that we are a product at the same time as an identity - playing that dual role requires us to always be balancing and reconciling conflicting opportunities and challenges. We need to ensure that we make transactions and interactions seamless, whilst never becoming transactional. It’s a fascinating time to be in the sector, as we modernise without losing sight of the fact that the role we play in the world is special and the relationship people have with us is so special”


Kursty Groves, Author and Workplace Strategist at Shape of Work. Speaking at ‘The future shape of your organisation - creating a hybrid office’ on Thursday 10th June. 

A few of the big trends I see being amplified and accelerated are at the confluence of equity and wellness. No longer enough to have a wellness programme tacked onto the employee handbook as an 'offer' or a 'perk', a deep understanding of how to enable people to design their work patterns to support their own work styles and personal contexts so they can manage their work-life boundaries and improve their own work performance. All this while contributing to their team and the organisation. Community managers will become increasingly valued; those who connect people to events, activities and each other so that the wrap-around workplace experience - whether onsite, offsite or online - contributes to the company's culture.