Association meetings face threat of predatory conferences By S Puvaneswary Predatory conferences – illegitimate con- ferences created purely for profit and feed off eager academicians and PhD students looking for short cuts to get their works published or to speak at international conferences – are jeopardising attendance at and performance of legitimate ones. This warning came from Noor Ahmad Hamid, regional director Asia Pacific of ICCA, who spoke at the recent Union of International Associations (UIA) Associa- tions Round Table Asia-Pacific 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. Noor explained that predatory con- ferences would naturally present poor quality content, the fact masked by glossy websites that imitate the real thing, thus fooling sincere delegates who would pay for registration fees. Noor identified examples of such conferences in his presentation, but had asked for attendees to refrain from taking the information beyond the room. While ICCA had come across various “questionable conferences” by dubious organisers and had alerted its members, Noor noted that there is no authoritative body to monitor predatory conferences and therefore data is lacking to indicate how extensive their impact is. Offering tips on identifying predatory conferences, Noor said to look out for missing contact information or organisers that have scheduled several conferences on different fields of expertise on the same day but at different locations. Speaking to TTGassociations after the presentation, Jeffers Miruka, president of the African Society of Association Execu- tives, shared an example of a predatory agriculture conference in July 2018. It had a website very similar to the legitimate conference but used a different URL and venue. Registration fees were also col- lected from interested parties. “The minute the organisers knew that they had been discovered, they shut down their operations. However, organisers of the legitimate conference were (affected). The turn-out at their conference was poor as damage had already been done,” Miruka elaborated. He said demand was fuelled by ASAE deepens reach in Asia-Pac A new Certified Association Executive our attendees to share what they do and (CAE) programme and continually im- to learn from one another.” proved content at its annual Association While attendance at the conferences Leadership Forum Asia Pacific confer- here has not grown significantly since ences are among the investments the 2015, Greta Kotler, chief development & American Society of Association Execu- credentialing officer, said the “calibre of tives (ASAE) is making to further its attendees is now much higher”. reach to associations based here. Graham shared that many Asian cit- ASAE president and CEO ies are keen on hosting future John Graham said: “Our work ASAE education conferences. in Asia-Pacific is part of a long- Bangkok, Singapore and Yoko- term vision that started five hama are among the informal years ago when we did a study contenders for the 2019 edition. to determine which markets ASAE is also looking to pilot outside of the US would be the a CAE programme in Australia most receptive to our products this year, before rolling it out to and services. We found that the rest of Asia-Pacific. Graham: stronger Asia-Pacific holds the most It is also in talks with the commitment to potential.” Singapore Business Federation Asia-Pacific With the completion of the to bring the same certification study, ASAE debuted the ASAE programme to the city-state Great Ideas in Association Management soon. Conference in Hong Kong in 2015. Besides these efforts, ASAE is keen to Graham noted that ASAE’s confer- amplify the legacies left behind by Asian ences in Asia-Pacific “have changed associations through its annual Power along the way” to better suit the needs of of A Awards. Winners have traditionally association executives in the region. been North American associations, but “Our Association Leadership Forum ASAE hopes to globalise it by including Asia Pacific this year is a lot more inter- nominees and winners from the Asia- active and offers many opportunities for Pacific region. – Karen Yue academicians who were desperate and were willing to pay money to have their scientific papers approved with guaran- teed publication in a short frame of time in order to qualify for further academic funding. In the case of PhD students, attending a conference in their area of expertise or having their research pub- lished in a journal would be a step closer towards getting their doctorate. Miruka added that such conferences have poor quality presentations and those who pay to attend such conferences in order to gain knowledge end up disappointed. Cyril Ritchie, UIA presi- dent, shared that he had received invitations to attend UN conferences in the past but the email return ad- dresses were never an official one. Noor: beware of fakes SG furniture industry nurtures youths Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) has launched the Youth Furniture Chapter (YFC) to nurture a more resourceful and resilient genera- tion of young leaders in the Singapore furniture industry. Mark Yong, SFIC president, said: “Or- ganisations are now focusing on succes- sion planning to ensure continuity and growth. With YFC, we can identify and put together an agenda to train and men- tor the right people to step into leader- ship positions. YFC allows us to have a formal structure to groom our NEXTGen leaders to drive sustainable growth over the long term.” YFC, headed by Jake Tan, has its roots in 1999 when it began as a small com- mittee as part of a leadership succession plan for SFIC. Today, YFC comprises about 100 NEXTGen entrepreneurs. SFIC aims to double this number by end-2019. YFC’s launch coincided with the opening of the 4 th ASEAN Youth Furni- ture Exchange (AYFE) and Digital Forum in Singapore on November 1, a regular event that aims to build an intra-ASEAN business network for the region’s new generation of furniture entrepreneurs.