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| Written by Veronica Ferguson

Employee Spotlight: Christina Lofton Takes Us Behind the Scenes of How to Plan Medical Meetings and Events

Late last year, M&IW launched an ambitious goal for 2023: to release an educational resource on medical meetings management. We are proud to share that the resulting book, How to Plan Medical Meetings and Events, co-authored by M&IW and Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, HMCC, is now available.

Many of M&IW’s subject-matter experts were involved in the creation of this book, including Christina Lofton, CMP, MMP. We sat down with her to learn more about the full writing process—from ideation to publication—and to dive deeper into the book’s impact and importance.

How long has How to Plan Medical Meetings and Events been in the works? Can you walk us through the high-level process of writing the book and getting it published?

Headshot of Christina Lofton

Conversations started in late 2022, and we had eight key contributors involved from the start. At the highest level, the entire book came together in under a year, from ideation to publication. By Pharma Forum in March 2023, we knew all the content that would be included but were still in the writing process. We sent a first draft to the publisher in late spring, spent a few months editing and revising, and it was officially in digital publication by the first week of October with print publication currently underway. It’s just amazing to me that we were able to get all this done in such a short amount of time.

You mentioned there were eight contributors at the start. How many people ultimately worked on this book?

To write the chapters, we used our own subject-matter knowledge and interviewed industry partners and experts both within and outside of M&IW for additional insights. So we ended up with 20 contributors, including the original eight. It really was a team effort from start to finish. Everyone had real-time access to the chapters for easy reference or editing, so we always knew what the others were working on and could make sure we stayed consistent throughout the book.

I’m really proud of everyone who worked on the book because it was a new endeavor for all of us! As a company, we had never written a book or attempted to create a resource of this magnitude. It was a learning process every step of the way, but it was so worthwhile in the end.

How to Plan Medical Meetings and Events is the official source for MPI’s new Medical Meetings Professional (MMP) certification. Can you tell us a little more about that?

It’s great to see all the content our team put together live not just in the book but also in these learning experiences that will ultimately shape future events and future industry professionals. I was fortunate enough to co-facilitate our very first MMP course at Pharma Forum in March. The book wasn’t fully done yet, but getting to announce it to the audience and share some of the content in the class helped me understand how much this resource is needed and appreciated. It’s one thing to know that the book exists and people are reading it, but it’s another to be part of that learning process and help industry peers and colleagues understand how it can be applied to real-world events.

And speaking of MPI, M&IW’s Ella Darby, Head of Global Event Experience, is hosting a meet-and-greet session about the book at MPI’s booth during Pharma Forum EMEA. How did that come about?

Ella is a fellow co-author! Pharma Forum EMEA attendees can attend her “meet the author” session and learn more about the book and the MMP course. From the beginning, we really felt that this resource should reach beyond the US. We were intentional about including global references throughout the book because medical meetings and events take place everywhere, and every country has different regulations and compliance requirements. Having Ella promote the book at Pharma Forum EMEA and share it with a global audience is a wonderful opportunity!

Why do you think this book is important for the life sciences industry?

Before the book and the MMP course, I wasn’t aware of any training or resources for people who want to position themselves in the medical meetings and events space from the start of their career. A lot of people, myself included, planned to join the events industry and fell into medical events along the way. I know for me personally, I learned a lot through trial and error and through real-life experience. I feel very strongly that equipping people from the start on how to properly plan medical meetings is important, especially as more people join the industry and the medical meeting space continues to evolve.

Tell us about your role at M&IW. When did you start and what is your current role?

I’ve been with M&IW for 17 years and focused on the medical space for 13 of those years. I recently switched roles to become a Marketing Strategist, but I was previously a Customer Success Manager and, before that, a Sr. Manager of Event Experience.

What do you enjoy most about working at M&IW?

The ability to work in so many areas. Like I said, I didn’t go into events expecting to become a medical meetings expert, but here I am! My career has really evolved beyond anything I ever expected. I’ve been able to touch six departments at M&IW, and I love how flexible and open our leadership team is to exposing us to different areas and letting us discover what makes us happy.

What advice would you give someone hoping to start a career in meetings and events?

Be open to learning from others and to all the experiences available in the industry. Travel the world, meet new people, take professional development courses, get industry certifications. That sort of openness will allow you to become whoever you want to be in this industry.

What is a new trend that you hope becomes an industry norm?

Really taking care of yourself. Self-care is an individualized practice, so planners need to know what works for them and how they can show up as their best self, whether it’s for a one-day event or a ten-day experience in another country.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

Growing up, my mom was the owner and operator of her own healthcare publications business that provided editorial, research, and graphic design services to the FDA and other government agencies. Having worked for her while in middle and high school, this is a full-circle moment for me. To not only be a contributor and project manager for M&IW’s first book but also have it be for the life sciences industry is amazing!