Global Events Visionary: Cathy Vijeh

During one of our Sales Missions with a client, I had the golden opportunity to meet with Cathy at the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) headquarters. As the Director of Global Events, her role is critical to the global meeting planning and execution of ISSCR programs. With over 21 years of experience in association management, Cathy introduces a global perspective as well as community engagement for a lasting impact.

Cathy shared some meaningful insights with us as part of her Global Events recognition.

JN: What global legacies or impact is ISSCR creating?

CV: The ISSCR is the largest community of stem cell scientists in the world and its mission is to promote excellence in stem cell science and applications to human health.  By hosting scientific meetings around the world we are providing opportunities to facilitate discussions and provide a platform for sharing ideas between scientists to help meet this mission.  Also, as a part of each annual meeting the ISSCR requests that the co-sponsors assist in hosting a public symposium for the local community. This provides opportunities for the general public to listen to top scientists present stem cell science and discoveries in the city where our annual meeting is being held.


JN: In your successful career, what are some of strategies you’ve implemented in global meeting planning/management?

CV: Some of the most simple strategies are the most effective to differentiate your organization as a global versus domestic organization. Some examples of this are that our organization always writes out dates using the global format of day, month, year and writing out times using the 24 hour clock. I rarely use colloquialisms during business discussions as I interact with many English speakers who are not from the USA and may not understand what that colloquialism means.  I also clearly state my purpose and expected outcomes for people I interact with that speak English as a second or third language.  Simplicity rules. The apps that are always accessible to me are a monetary currency converter app; time and date app for scheduling global meetings and a measurement app to convert square feet to square meters. Also, I stay current on global news and events and follow news sources from around the world; my Facebook feed is curated to assist with global news access. It is important to understand the political and economic influences occurring in any place that you are conducting business and hosting a meeting.


JN: From your experience as the Director of Global Events, what insights can you provide to international destinations in positioning their product/services in a competitive marketplace?

CV: It is very helpful if a destination that I am interested in can provide information that is relevant to the association that I represent and how that relates to the destination.  For example, I am always going to want to know what the business climate for biological research and bio-medical or bio-technical companies is in any city that is under consideration.  Know the answers to why my particular group would want to hold a meeting in your destination.  Be prepared to give examples of other similar organizations that have held successful meetings in your destination.  Identify where I can find cost savings for any products and services necessary to hold my meeting in your destination.


JN: What are some of the benefits of planning an international meeting?

CV: For the ISSCR, holding international meetings in various cities/countries allows our constituency opportunities to convene in a variety of locations.  Depending on where someone hails from they may not be able to attend a meeting in one location due to financial, geographical or political barriers. However, they may be able to participate in the next location. So, the ability to provide equitable opportunities in participation is gratifying towards meeting our mission and enhancing a member’s ability to meet their professional goals.  Also, I try to recognize and implement various room sets, signage designs or visual elements that are typical to a destination and adopt those elements if it brings about planning efficiencies or savings.  For me personally, I have had the rare opportunity to interact with people from many different cultures and backgrounds and experience daily life in so many regions of the world.  I have learned global business principles on the job, utilize this knowledge continually and find so many opportunities to share this knowledge with the ISSCR team.  The best benefit is that things are always changing and I get the opportunity to be curious and a life-long learner while visiting some of the most interesting cities and destinations in the world.


JN: Any other pointers or advice you would like to share with our readers? Please note our readers are made up of international meeting planners and destinations.

CV: Taxes are always going to be one of the biggest add-ons to any costs in almost any country you conduct business. Have a basic understanding of VAT, GST and HST, where it is applied and how the concept of tax reclamation works.  On that note, partner with a great global tax specialist.  Their services are well worth the expense.  Lastly, invest in compression socks for long flights. I wish I found them sooner!

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment