Interviews by The Exhibitionists with our women in exhibitions

The ExhibitionistAll things being equal – 20 June 2019

The Exhibitionists speak to two leading figures in the campaign for gender equality in global exhibitions. Stephanie Selesnick and Anthony Reeve – Crook in an interview with Oana Cipca (Founder Women in Exhibitions Network) and Monica Lee-Müller, Managing Director Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited.

The ExhibitionistNot so secret agent of change – 3 July 2019

Fresh blood and change agents, Fresh Montgomery’s Lori Hoinkes and F2FConnect’s Trevor Foley advise The Exhibitionists on how to keep your organisation shiny and new.

Interviews during the UFI European Congress in Birmingham.

Woman, you are worth more

20190412-DSC_7073We met because he had a question to ask: ‘Lucinda, I have a company that provides private chauffeurs for both men and women but we notice that only men are making use of this service. Why do women rarely use my service?’ I smiled and realised that I loved the question. I love it because it could really only have to do with a few elements. And this is what I shared with him.

Women value themselves less than men

 Women value themselves less than men. Defining their own value might be a puzzle with badly matching pieces. Men don’t have this problem. Without blinking or thinking men – generally speaking – choose the luxurious part of life. The private chauffeur… they are worth it, naturally. Women ‘feel’ that they don’t deserve it. What might others think of her? And what about her self-perception… succumbing to luxury. Comfort, time and efficiency, men don’t have to think about it twice.

Shaking his head the limousine guy continued: ‘Women even prefer to take the night train and a taxi at a dark train station. They arrive at the airport by plane, walk through an inhospitable dark parking lot and drive themselves home even although they are really tired.’ I nodded.

I say women are – generally speaking – not able to allow themselves this luxury. Actually really sad and we should change this by being role models for the right approach. By being role models for our daughters because there it starts.

The challenge of being a woman

I detest walking through dark garages at night and I hate taking the train and bus. He said all the right things and I smiled as I saw all these women come home totally exhausted and even when it is late and she is tired, she still chooses for discomfort. Another horror crossed my mind. High heels. When I’m invited to speak or invited at an event there usually is a challenge. My high heels are caught between the cobble stones paving the street to the building or in the holes of the metal stairs in the garage. Not with a private driver.

Women in top positions

I smiled again; there are lots of women in top positions who have never felt the freedom of a private chauffeur. I explained to him that these women are all around us. Even most women in top positions will not easily turn to the private chauffeur if they don’t have the utmost senior position… and still then. This should change. I am convinced that women in those positions (and other) should allow themselves to be driven just because they are worth it. And…if companies can facilitate this for men, they can certainly facilitate it for women.

A healty mindset and efficiency

Women are always thinking about the other person and that’s okay but you can only look after the other person once you have learnt to take care of yourself. And no, this service is certainly not about the costs or a lavish lifestyle, it’s about comfort, safety and efficiency. About getting to your destination in a relaxed way.

‘Price is what you pay and value is what you get’

Warren Buffet

Concerning to me the obvious things people with a healthy mindset and look on their own lives should treat themselves. The nice thing about the limousine’s man question is that it confronted me once again with the position of women. We just don’t seem to be able to find ourselves worth the private chauffeur.

‘My husband thinks…’

 In my new book ‘Smart & Savvy Leadership’, I write about this topic: value and the implications of feeling less. Women actually told me: ‘Lucinda, my husband might just think that I am worth more than he is if I would be fetched by a chauffeur so I put on unsexy clothing, never wear heels and wear very little make-up so that I can keep him at his level.’ What about that! Tradition has taught us to behave, be modest, never to splash out and certainly never have the chauffeur to take you places. Okay for a party or an event but for business…

‘Well done, woman’

Well, I can assure you, since having this conversation with this man, the look at myself has changed even more. I will be using his services more often, I will be valuing myself more and as long as I live I will invest in myself so that I have enough to give the other person as well. I want to come home relaxed and give myself a smile and a pat on the back.

As a speaker and performer I often have to drive to my destination. My preparation happens while in the car. I sometimes have no idea how I got there because I am so concentrated. As of now I am going to allow myself a private chauffeur. Why? By writing and realizing this and understanding who I am, I know that I am worth it! When I come home I say: ‘Well done, woman.’ My question to you is, are you worth it?

lucinda signature

Adopt new vocabulary and change your life

When I look back at the year past I must admit that I smile. I smile because what I have learnt in life is to be very conscious of what I do at that moment in time so that I never need to pause and look back. I know… it might sound strange but it’s a life philosophy. Living in the moment, experiencing it for 100% and making that a way of living.

When I used to work for a corporate organisation I needed to work between Christmas and New Year just to catch my breath. The new KPI’s were just rounded up and the new ones would then again be presented in the first week of January. By living in the moment – nowadays – I am always with my breath and that helps a lot. I wish I knew this back then.


Since a few years I have decided to adopt certain words and incorporate them in my daily life style. Don’t laugh… they are amazing words. For the next year it will be ‘feed forward’. We have the natural tendency to speak about the word ‘feedback’. There are several issues with feedback and one of it is that it does not challenge us to think differently. How often don’t we use that word without actually thinking about what it really means.

I take language very literally; when someone says ‘feedback’ to me, I automatically start thinking about the past. Feedback… whoever came up with that word?

I want to look forward, forward in time. Make a difference, challenge myself to new and interesting things and terms. So when I speak to people now, I ask them, could I give you some feedforward after this meeting or conversation? I somehow believe that people actually expect this of me.

Budget for mistakes

Another phrase might be ‘failing forward’.  I truly love this word because it’s all about awareness. In the past people used to think that making mistakes was detrimental. Now when I enter companies they are happy that people make mistakes because by making mistakes we learn. I remember my daughter telling me: ‘Mom, if I knew it all, I would not need to go to school! Then I could skip school and move on. I need to make mistakes to move on.’

I know that I once advised a company on how to get women to move up the corporate ladder. I told them that we needed a budget – rather in time than money – for mistakes; to turn ‘mistakes’ into real learning moments. They could not believe their ears so that ended that adventure. I would have been safer to not use this word. We like using the words we are used to but we never get any further. I love this phrase ‘failing forward’. It changed my life.

Influence. The more I get known as, the more…

The word that I have been busy with for a while is ‘influence’ and now you have been wondering when is she going to come with something for us women… well, here we go. The coming weeks I will be working on writing my new book and I do it for the sole purpose of increasing my influence.

I write and speak and give advice and the more I do that, the more the media knows how to find me for a range of topics. The more I get known as the expert on the topic of female empowerment, the more people need to have me around when certain decisions are made.


Well, that’s enough about me. You could join the branch organisation for whatever you fancy. Get more of your colleagues to be part of Women in Exhibitions Network or plan breakfasts or lunches with women in your company. Perhaps women outside your company would want to learn from your experiences.

I always have great ideas and am prepared to share them at all times… Change the way you think, change your world but most of all make sure that you carve your year!

by Lucinda Douglas

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Ladies, lets boom Sisterhood!

Ladies, lets boom Sisterhood!

A while ago I overheard a conversation. A number of women was talking at the table next to mine and my goodness one of them said: ‘What on earth is still the advantage of being a woman?’ All of a sudden they caught my attention. Another woman said: ‘We earn less, have to get a partner before we are 37 years old, have to have children and a good career by then as well. And childcare always seems to be something for women. Just a while ago our HR department was looking for a woman but although she was the best candidate, she was refused. And you know why? Because while her children were small, she graduated from university with three diplomas. Yes! The HR director – a man – found that she had neglected her children because she must have been studying and never paying attention to them.’ By now they needed me and I said: ‘Ladies, I know these stories but when we tell them this often they will become our stories. So, don’t. We have the chance to make the change.’

See it like this. There are so many men in the market place that it’s difficult for them to make the difference. How on earth can they stand out if there are 75% of men working full time? When they work in companies, they even look like each other despite colour or creed. Women are like black bears in the snow, we need to be seen.

The advantages of Having Women in Deciding Positions

The market knows that it cannot do without women. It has been proven that when there are women on a board, more money is made for several reasons. Shareholders are more positive and believe that the diversity will make the difference. Even people buying your product find it to be important that women are given a rightful place, not just in middle management. In the US it is now no longer something that is a ‘nice to have’, women have a very grateful role to play. Back in Holland where I live, lots of companies are now getting the smirk off their faces and women, all women, are now being asked to step forward.


There are lots of theories why the situation with women is outright bad. The one I liked was that in Holland the men during the First and Second World War not ‘really’ went to war. Holland was neutral in the first one. But for women this meant that they never got the opportunity to spread their wings and take charge. It sounds good but as far as I am concerned it must go deeper than this. I love the fact that despite what the media is telling me, there are lots of women who love doing what they do. Be it caring for children or working part time. As long as it is a choice.

What springs to mind is that in England, a country where women tend to have their children earlier than in the rest of Europe, they have one huge advantage. By the time that they are 40 years old, corporates love them because they already raised children which is considered similar to running a company… now they are ready to take on the job as a manager. Love the idea and I believe that it is true.

Women from Abroad

The Dutch situation is really interesting: 67% of all women in CEO positions come from abroad. And yes, there is an explanation for it as well. Men recruit or hire women at these levels and when a woman is Dutch he sees her as his own wife, sister, mother etcetera and these women in his life have always had problems with childcare. It resonates in his head and he does not want to go through it again, probably he even has a little trauma. However, he decides to choose women from France, Scandinavia and the US because these women have another added advantage… they are prepared to work full time. He also believes that she has childcare taken care of and sorted out. He has a very romantic view of the international woman and she does not disappoint him.


The idea that women should support each other more often is a fact. A while ago I was asked to speak and my message was that just as men support each other without any questions, we should too. Not being able to find women is bogus. They are all over the place. There are even more women around than men. The only challenge is that we are always looking for people who look just like us and if someone is different we don’t want them in our ‘group’.

Then we tend to be harder to women than to men. How often haven’t I heard ‘Well Lucinda, female leadership trainings given by men are more valuable because they can let us see more as women!’ No, not true at all! I have fought to get here where I am. Having this knowledge has cost me lots of investment. Funny enough even if men know less in my field they are seen as exotic. Very challenging…  I have come to the conclusion that when a woman dares to show herself, she is amazing and she will always have my support!

The Power of Three

Recently I visited a conference at the University of Erasmus in Rotterdam. A charming professor from the States shared something with us and I liked it. She said: ‘Companies sometimes have one woman on the board and then brag about it that they have ONE! This woman has a very special position; she is constantly in all promotion, goes to all meetings, delivers speeches and gives colour to the company. When you have two women it becomes competition and that creates problems but when there are three women the dynamics change and everything works much better. So ladies, let’s go in groups of three and have fun!


People sometimes ask me ‘Where are these women?’ and I explain that they are all around us. 52% of our population is female but please stop looking for the impossible. I have been in companies where men that were not good enough were given a better position… with more responsibility they would get better understanding!

But let us not become resentful. I believe that we are being accepted like never before and let us aim for the best. I hope that my story encourages you to push on and understand that we have a special task at hand. Understand your advantage, get your board position and go for it! The best advice that I have ever heard is: ‘Just do it.’

Lucinda Douglas , the YES YOU CAN WOMAN

Lucinda Douglas is our surprise guest speaker during the Women in Exhibitions Network in Munich on December 14, 2018. You want to register for the event? Go to our registration page.

Line-up revealed for Munich event on December 14!

During our Women in Exhibitions event in Munich on December 14 all participants form the round table.  This is the event, where we not only talk about and acknowledge the challenges women face in our industry but where we commit to help one another and plan practical actions that can be put in practice when back at the office.

Our provisional prominent line-up for the round table in Munich next December 14 is revealed from left to right:


  • Barbara Weizsaecker, Secretary General at the European Exhibitions Industry Alliance
  • Kirstin Deutelmoser, Director Partner & Guest Events at Messe Düsseldorf
  • Silke Hoersch, Executive Director at Ungerboeck
  • Lucinda Douglas, The Yes You Can Woman

This wonderful session will be moderated by our lovelly colleague from the industry Ms. Karla Juegel.


You are not too late to register for Munich. This is an open event , you only need to work in the exhibitions industry to be able to attend! Register here soon! 

Women in Exhibitions meet in Munich

How Micro-Political Competences Help Women Recognize and  Use their Scope of Action

14 december 2018, at GHM, Munich, Germany

Women in Exhibitions Network is a network that focuses on empowering women in the exhibitions industry. It aims to give a voice to women, and draw attention to their impact in all sectors of this industry.

2018 Foto Klaus DopplerIn a workshop with Dr. Klaus Doppler we will support women in building-up micro-political competences to recognize and use their scope of action within their business career. Aspects like personal qualification, profiling, career and self-marketing will encourage women to share their experience with other role models in our industry. We invite you to join us!





Programme & Registration >>

Women in Exhibitions at Prowood Flanders Expo in Gent Belgium

Women in Exhibitions at Prowood Flanders Expo in Gent Belgium

25 October 2018

During Prowood at Flanders Expo, Women in Exhibitions network from Belgium and the Netherlands will come together for presentations and networking with role models from the industry.

In a relatively men’s world as Prowood is known, women play a significant role in the realisation of this exhibition.


You can best register at 


10: 30 hrs : Coffee & Tea

11:00 hrs.

  • Welcome word Oana Cipca, Initiator Women in Exhibitions Network
  • Welcome word Olivier Claessen : Organizer Prowood
  • Welcome word Anja Stuerbout : Sales Prowood
  • Welcome word Angélique Monballieu: Board of Advice Prowood & Exhibitions Coach

12:00 hrs. Site visit of Prowood Ehibition

13u15 : Networking at HACO stand accompanied by Streetfood

Registration Fee:

This event is free of charge and sponsored by Flanders Expo & PROWOOD.

Contact for this event: 

  • Oana Cipca (+31 6 52 56 12 16)
  • Angélique Monballieu (+32 496 23 80 65)



Haco trading


Cappucino en Cornetto, Verona

Cappuccino e Cornetto

3 May 2018

May 3rd early morning we had an informal Cappuccino e Cornetto at Bellini’s Bar at Crown Plaza Verona. This was an informal get together before the UFI congress to see if there are more women in exhibitions interested to join this network. We had a great attendance and a lively discussion that we definitely want to continue.

Fees: this event was sponsored by MECC Maastricht, the Netherlands

Women in Exhibitions meet in Maastricht during TEFAF

First Women in Exhibitions Network event

16 March 2018

March 16 the first meeting of the recently introduced ‘Women in Exhibitions Network’ took place at MECC Maastricht, The Netherlands. Women from 5 different countries and all working in the exhibitions industry met during the world famous art fair TEFAFMaastricht.

Women in Exhibitions Network is an initiative of Oana Cipca of MECC Maastricht and aims to enlarge the visibility of the impact that women bring in this industry and to give them a voice.

Fees: this event was sponsored by MECC Maastricht, the Netherlands

Empowers Women in Exhibitions