CEO, IMEX Group
Having graduated from Oxford University, UK, in Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1998, Carina began her career in retail and catering, in the newly established GoodBean Coffee – a family owned chain of coffee shops located throughout the South of England. As Managing Director, Carina was in charge of the running of the business which grew to 13 stores in three years and was sold to a publicly listed company in December 2001.
An avid skier, Carina enjoyed a short break working in a ski resort in Italy, before entering the meetings industry in 2002 as the Marketing and Operations Director for IMEX in Frankfurt as part of the original launch team for the exhibition.
Following the expansion of the IMEX brand into America in 2009, Carina was appointed CEO of the IMEX Group. In this role, Carina is responsible for all aspects of the business.
Throughout her career, Carina has been an active member of the meetings industry. She was Chair of the Marketing Committee for MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference, London (2008), has served on the Board of the MPI UK Chapter, the MPI International Multicultural Committee and on PCMA’s Global and Advocacy Taskforces. She is currently President of the SITE Foundation and serves on the AEO Council.
Carina lives on the south coast of the UK, near to the IMEX Group office in Brighton, called “London-by-the-Sea” for its cosmopolitan nature and youth culture.
She enjoys spending time with her family (she’s a mother to two boys), and is a keen climber and skier, hitting the slopes with friends and family when she can.
Rafat is the CEO/founder of Skift, the largest industry intelligence and marketing platform in travel, providing news, information, data and services.
Previously, he was the founder/CEO of paidContent and ContentNext, which he sold to UK’s Guardian News and Media in 2008, and left in 2010. Prior to that, he was managing editor of Silicon Alley Reporter.
Rafat was the Knight Fellow at Indiana University, where he completed his Masters in Journalism, 1999-2000. Prior to that he completed his BSc in Computer Engineering, from AMU in Aligarh, India.
Director of M&C Marketing, Discover Puerto Rico
Deborah Cohen, CMP earned her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at Park University and is a certified meetings professional (CMP). In 1997, Deborah joined the Branson Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau as the Director of Tourism Development.
Deborah then spent five years at the Memphis Zoo where she directed all fundraisers and special events, managed sales and tourism marketing efforts, followed by six years at the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she led the sales efforts for the international leisure market and managed the western U.S territory for the MICE segment.
In 2010, Deborah joined the Branson Chamber of Commerce/CVB once again, but this time as Director of Meeting and Convention Sales. In July 2018, Deborah joined Discover Puerto Rico as the Director of Meeting & Convention Marketing and directs all marketing efforts for the MICE segments.
Destination Support Services Director, Discover Puerto Rico
Vanessa Figueroa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing from the Interamerican University in Puerto Rico. More than 20 years in the luxury hospitality industry in the areas of Sales, Event Coordination, Food and Beverage, Marketing and Customer Service.
Her career includes a variety of roles including Group Sales Manager at Hotel Arts Barcelona, Club Director at Saks Fifth Avenue, Membership Director at Bahia Beach Resort and Golf Club, Home of the St. Regis Bahia Beach and Director of Meetings & Special Events for Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and The Ritz-Carlton San Juan.
Managing Director and CEO, UFI
Kai Hattendorf is Managing Director / CEO of UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition
Industry. As such, he is responsible for UFI activities and events globally, as well as the operation of its offices and presences in Paris, Brussels, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, and Bogota.
Currently, Kai also serves as Honorary President of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), the global council of international and global associations serving the Business Events Industry.
Prior to his current role, Kai worked in the exhibition industry for numerous years in senior
management positions at Messe Frankfurt’s global headquarters, focusing on transformational issues ranging from digitisation to marketing and communications.
His previous career also includes leadership positions in marketing/strategic communications as well as in strategy and product development in the ITC and Media Industry for the Deutsche Telekom Group, the dpa Group (the German Press Agency), and a start-up.
A journalist by education, Kai has internationally reported and worked for the WDR and Radio Bremen broadcasters in Germany, at Euronews in France, the BBC in the UK, and the Voice of America. He holds a Master’s degree from the American University, Washington, DC. He also studied in Dortmund and Edinburgh.
Head of Events, SITE global
Author, Intentional Event Design, Our Professional Opportunity
Tahira is a Special Event Planning and Sustainable Event Management instructor at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology), and is passionate about intentional event design, neuroscience, and the integration of now ubiquitous technology to enhance the human experience at events and design the most relevant incentive, meeting, and event environments.
She has been recognized as a Top 20 Trendsetter by MeetingsToday (2018) and honored as MPI BC Chapter Mentor of the Year. She contributed to the 9th edition of the CIC Manual, which provides the framework for CMP studies around the globe at industry conferences and events.
Pierre joined SpotMe in 2001 and became CEO in 2016. In 2004, after a research position on distributed algorithms at NTT Japan, he returned to SpotMe and led the pivot from proprietary hardware to SaaS, making SpotMe the leading event app and virtual event platform. Pierre holds an MSc in communication systems from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is also a graduate of INSEAD. He enjoys sky running and ski mountaineering in the Swiss Alps.
Co-Founder, Diversity Ally
Ashanti Bentil-Dhue is a speaker, diversity expert and researcher. She is co-founder of Diversity Ally, the first HR, Training & Search partner dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive culture in the global events industry and co-founder of the global network, Black In Events.
She also spearheaded the only research in the UK exclusively focused on how organisations can invest in black millennials and generation Z females within the corporate structure. You can sign up to receive the white paper here: https://forms.gle/U2eXp2P1onWZLnEp6.
In June 2020, she co created the UK’s first nationwide anti-racism and allyship project for white women who want to be allies. The mission is to empower as many white women as possible to become anti-racist changemakers and allies in their personal and professional capacities. You can find out more here: https://100whitewomen.typeform.com/to/hpvkHGjg
Managing Partner, SoolNua & Chief Marketing Officer, SITE
With his business partner Patrick Delaney, Pádraic is currently the managing partner at SoolNua, a specialist advisory helping destinations, hotels, agencies, associations and venues with marketing, strategy and training for the MICE marketplace. Prior to founding SoolNua, Gilligan was the vice president of Ovation, MCI’s global DMC network and the vice president of Industry Relations at MCI.
He has served as president of SITE, as a trustee of the SITE Foundation, and on the Hospitality Partners Board of FICP. He blogs at Padraicino and is a regular speaker at industry events. He currently serves as the chief marketing officer at SITE.
Even though he may not look like it, Michael is an 18-year veteran of the tech industry (his words, not ours). An emerging (finally) thought leader in the field of event technology, Michael has mixed his experience in product design, customer success and sales to bring Cadence to the events industry. Michael enjoys leading teams of passionate, energetic, and compassionate creatives helping them find their purpose and fulfillment in life. Which, of course, is working for Cadence (again his words, not ours).
Executive Producer, Experiential Marketing & Events
Erika is an executive producer with more than 15 years of experience in leading experiential events for top companies including Airbnb and Apple. Ranging from global product launches to exclusive film festival premieres, her high-touch, high-visibility productions have been featured in Apartment Therapy, Black Enterprise, CNET, Conde Nast Traveler, Digital Trends, and Fortune among others. Erika’s innovative B2B and B2C productions have surprised and delighted more than 2.5 million people — online and in-person.
Jim Sharpe joined Aventri as CEO in January 2020 and is focused on leading the global Aventri team as it executes on its vision to help the world Connect Better. Throughout his career, Jim has led high-performing teams in private equity-backed tech-enabled businesses, investing in talent, service and product resulting in significant revenue growth.
Prior to Aventri, Jim was Managing Director and GM of Gerson Lehrman Group’s (GLG) largest and most profitable business unit, Financial Services. In this capacity he led several hundred professionals and achieved significant expansion of the userbase while growing revenues to over $200 million. His recent experience at GLG was his second six-year stint at the company, following a first term which saw him co-found and lead the firm’s Energy and Industrials practice. His combined tenure at GLG saw company revenues grow 100x.
In between his turns at GLG, Jim engaged in an entrepreneurial venture, partnering with a New-York private equity firm to acquire, rebuild, and operate a manufacturing company in the water filtration space. Over a four-year period, Jim developed strategic manufacturing and distribution relationships throughout the industry, won significant market share through data-driven analysis of its market, and ultimately sold the business to a European chemical company.
Jim graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in Commerce and East Asian languages. He resides in Westchester County, New York with his wife, son and Brittany Spaniel.
Consultant and Writer, Flashes & Flames
Colin Morrison is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who has been CEO of media and entertainment companies in Europe and the AsiaPacific including for EMAP, Reed, Future, ACP, and Hearst. He is now variously a strategic advisor, chair, and non-executive director of media companies in the UK and Australia.
He also writes the Flashes & Flames media industry weekly newsletter (www.flashesandflames.com), is Chair of the Anglo-Australian Cook Society, and an education adviser to the UK government. He was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2018.
Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor, UNLV
Brian Labus is an infectious disease epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Health. His research interests include outbreak investigation, disease surveillance and the use of social media to detect and investigate health problems in the community. Prior to joining UNLV in 2015, he spent 15 years at the Southern Nevada Health District as the Senior Epidemiologist, where he was responsible for leading outbreak investigations, conducting disease surveillance activities, and the development of public health informatics projects. Has was the lead public health investigator for the largest outbreak of healthcare-acquire hepatitis C in United States history. In March of 2020, he was appointed to Governor Sisolak’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Team. He received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Purdue University, a Master of Public Health degree in infectious diseases from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in public health with a concentration in occupational and environmental health from the School of Community Health Sciences at UNLV.
Principal, Clear Current Consulting
Shawna McKinley is an event sustainability solutionary who works with progressive organizations to understand and manage the sustainability impacts of diverse events. She is meticulous about understanding negative sustainability impacts from events to enable organizations to reduce risks, control costs and protect their brand. She also helps organizations use sustainability as a tool to provide diverse benefits to event participants, employees, communities and society at large through experiential ideas, legacy projects and benefit metrics. She facilitates courses in sustainability and ethics to current and future event professionals at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and is the author of Event Manager Blog’s Sustainable Event Guide.
EVP of Business Development, US for Tarsus Group
Rachel Wimberly currently is EVP of Business Development in the U.S. for U.K.-based Tarsus Group, a global B2B media company with 180 trade shows in 19 countries. In her role, she is responsible for driving mergers and acquisitons in North America, as well as overseeing the Tarsus Media division in the U.S.
Before Tarsus Group, Rachel was senior editor at Tradeshow Week Magazine, as well as working for Variety magazine, The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, CNN Business News and a stint in the film industry working for a production company on six feature films with a first-look deal with Warner Brothers.
Rachel has a Masters in Jourmalism from New York University. Her Twitter handle is TSNN_Rachel.
2020 President, SITE
Serial entrepreneur Jennifer Glynn is Co-Managing Partner at Intuitive Conferences & Events, Meeting Encore and Fuel Sports, three successful established businesses servicing a niche within the MICE sector, supporting corporations, associations, and sport organizations to deliver events globally. Glynn is a long-standing member of SITE, serving as current SITE Global President and member of the International Board of Directors. She is also Past President of SITE Canada and spearheaded the development of SITE’s Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP) certification. In an act of resilience and a desire to give back
to the community she loves culminated in the creation of a community platform “inaneggshell.com” where she will facilitate idea curation and knowledge sharing for the soft skills needed for success.
When she is not working, she may be found speaking at an industry event or working in her garden with her husband David and their dog Whiskey.
Corey McCarthy has more than twenty years of experience in media and tech. As Socio’s Chief Marketing Officer, Corey and her team bring event organizers impactful tech and thought leadership that truly delivers success.
In her former life, Corey ran a portfolio brand for Penton Media, and has extensive insights into all facets of the event, digital media, and publishing businesses.
MD, Gallus Events
William ran his first paid for online event in 2005 “controversially” charging the same price for the online as the physical event. William now runs Europe’s largest online training and virtual events business for executive assistants, Practically Perfect PA.
As an organiser and business strategist, William is a firm believer in the role that virtual has in replacing revenue from physical events.
Director of Sales, Blueprint Studios
Lenny is an experiential architect, CSEP (Certified Special Event Professional) and CHE (Certified Hospitality Educator) who has been producing events and entertainment for over 25 years, including high-profile international events at MGM Resorts that received ESPRIT and GALA awards. He instructs at The International School of Hospitality (TISOH). There, he founded the Design Lab, an on-campus tactile learning environment that inspires student creativity and supports TISOH’s diverse hospitality curriculum.
Event Planner, Andy Roby Events
My name is Andrew and I’m a Proud Army Vet who happens to be a great DC Event and Wedding Planner! I like to call myself an Event Storyteller who is passionate about romantic weddings and engaging events.
Within my 13 years of planning, I’m most proud of my work with some tremendous charities like Ms. Veteran America, Susan G. Komen, The Cinderella Foundation, and So Others Might Eat who dedicate their lives to helping others.
It’s not just about planning events. It certainly isn’t about me. It’s about making sure you get the best help to reach your bottom line.
Head of Adelman Law Group, PLLC
Steve Adelman is head of Adelman Law Group, PLLC in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Vice President of the Event Safety Alliance. His law practice focuses on risk management, safety, and security at sports and entertainment events, and he serves as an expert witness in lawsuits arising from live events. He is the lead author of the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide and the brand new Crowd Management ANSI standard.
He is a professor in Arizona State University’s Sports Law and Business program, and he writes the “Adelman on Venues” newsletter as well as a variety of articles about live events. Steve Adelman’s dream is to have a reasonable conversation with a Blue Man.
VP of Experience Strategy, Nifty Method Marketing & Events
Alex Plaxen is the former Founder of Little Bird Told Media, and current Vice President of Experience Strategy at Nifty Method Marketing & Events. He graduated with a Master’s in Tourism Administration with a focus on event and meeting management from George Washington University. Alex is actively involved in leadership roles in the meetings and events industry, currently as a Meetings Mean Business ambassador and incoming Board Director of Meeting Professionals International Potomac Chapter.
In addition to his work in the events industry, Alex has been honored locally and internationally as an emerging thought leader, recognized as one of Meetings & Conventions magazine’s Rising Stars of 2019, the recipient of Meeting Professionals International’s RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement in 2018, named to the inaugural BizBash Top 500 People in Events in 2018 and Top 1000 in 2019, Meetings Today magazine’s 2018 Meetings Trendsetters, and Connect Association 40 under 40 in 2017.
Global Executive VP of the Corporate Division & COO of the Asia Pacific Region, MCI
Oscar Cerezales is MCI’s Global Executive Vice President of the Corporate Division and Chief Operating Officer of the Asia Pacific region. He owns the strategic plan of MCI corporate clients and related services, focusing on collaborative development of go-to-market programmes based on innovation and digital to support corporate clients’ business goals.
Oscar is an expert in the international meetings and events industry, having worked for MCI for more than 10 years across 3 different markets in 3 different continents. His journey at MCI began in 2007 in his native Spain as the Managing Director. Inspired by MCI’s growth, he moved on to new challenges in Latin America, managing the Brazilian branch and heading the Group’s Association Relations.
Since 2012, he has been leading MCI’s expansion in the digital era from Singapore, crafting strategic and creative client solutions to incorporate digital technologies into the company’s suite of services.
Oscar is recognised not only for his inspiring work experience, but also as an advocate for positive change and evolution in the meetings industry. He is chair of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Advisory Board as well as a Member of the Scientific Board for the Latin American Association of Convention Bureaus. Keen to share his knowledge with the future generations of event professionals, he has also been a professor at universities in Barcelona, London, and Milan.
Oscar is the father of three children and loves endurance sports, like ultra-marathons and triathlons.
Group Director of Strategy & Business Planning, Informa PLC
Alex joined Informa in January 2014 as Group Director of Strategy and Business Planning, where he is responsible for Corporate Strategy and M&A. He is a member of the Group’s Executive Management Team, and he sits on the Management Board of Informa’s academic publishing division, Taylor & Francis.
Prior to Informa, Alex was a Partner with global consultancy Bain & Company where he focused on corporate transformation, innovation and growth strategy, M&A due diligence, and post-acquisition integration, principally with clients in the TMT sector. Prior to Bain, Alex was with Monitor Group.
Alex holds an MBA from Northwestern University, an MPhil from Oxford University, and a BA from Yale University.
Editor in Chief, EventMB
Julius Solaris is the editor in chief of EventMB. Started in 2007, EventMB is the number one online platform for event professionals. EventMB was acquired in 2019 by Skift, the largest and most influential travel media company worldwide.
He has been named one of the most influential individuals in the meetings industry by many magazines and media for the past 10 years.
Julius has conducted some of the most groundbreaking research for the event industry. Over 3,000 events reviewed and 15,000 event professionals interviewed.
Julius’ analysis and reports have been downloaded by over 300,000 event professionals. 300,000 more read EventMB every month. Julius has been keynote for events in 12 countries and for over 200,000 attendees.
Co-Founder, Two Social Media Chicks
Sabrina Meyers is an independent event planner and founder of Hot Hospitality Exchange, her brand and platform where she creates visual content from a MICE and event planners’ perspective mainly on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Twitter. She’s also co-founder of newly launched social media creative agency, Two Social Media Chicks which consults with clients in the events, hospitality and lifestyle on social media content creation, coaching, marketing and strategy. She’s a very active voice in the global events community and big believer in creative collaboration and all things #eventprofs related!
Chief Digital Strategist, miguelseven.com
Miguel is an experienced event professional and passionate social media advocate who
regularly speaks, consults, and trains teams on online community management, digital strategy and event technology.
Miguel managed the IMEX Group’s social media strategy from 2011 to 2017. He also sits on MPI’s International Board of Directors and is the past-chair of the Events Industry Council’s Industry Insights Committee.
The Future of the Event Industry will provide you with an action plan to go back to business safely in 2021.
An innovative way to discuss key issues with your peers. Use our matchmaking features to connect with other attendees.
A dedicated track to event owners willing to grow their business with virtual and live events.
The most practical sessions to give you an action plan to go back to business.
The best way to use technology for virtual and hybrid events.
How can we run events safely during the pandemic? Join Dr. Brian Labus, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at UNLV for a frank conversation on the risks associated with running events and how the industry can go back to business safely
In recent months, destinations have been challenged to be extremely creative with MICE marketing and sales efforts given the absence of tradeshows, customer events, FAMs and site visits.
Join Discover Puerto Rico to learn how they creatively engaged with event planners virtually, communicated health and safety measures for the Island, developed new virtual tools and how they are boldly moving back into the world of live events with the first site visit on the Island in months. You’ll get a firsthand look at this visit and honest reactions from the meeting planner.
There is no denying that trade shows have been hard hit by the Coronavirus crisis. Yet in many countries trade shows are beginning to come back to business. What will trade shows look like in the immediate future and what is the outlook for the next six months?
Join IMEX CEO Carina Bauer and UFI CEO, Kai Hattendorf for a practical perspective on a key sector of business meetings.
How will hybrid events look like after the virtual revolution? Join SpotMe CEO, Pierre Metrailler to understand what the future of hybrid events looks like and where you should invest to minimize risks and maximize returns.
Incentive travel and DMCs are in desperate need of a plan to face the uncertainty of the next months. What does going back to business look like and how long will it take?
Join Pádraic Gilligan MD of SoolNua and CMO of SITE and Jenn Glynn, SITE President for an open conversation on the future of incentive travel and DMCs.
What does security for events look like? How do we make events safe and protect our business or company from liability?
Join Steve Adelman, attorney at Adelman Law Group, PLLC, and vice president of the Event Safety Alliance for practical advice on how to ensure the safety of attendees.
Hybrid is the future of events. How do you design hybrid experiences that connect online and offline audiences?
Join Tahira Endean, head of events for SITE, to discover how to create engaging experiences in a post-pandemic era.
How are large event technology players adapting to the shift to virtual events? How we will use technology once live events come back? Join Aventri’s CEO Jim Sharpe to learn what the event technology of the future looks like.
What is the future of large event industry conglomerates after 15 years of growth? As the events market faces the biggest shakeup in its history, two media leaders discuss the new world order for event company owners.
Colin Morrison is a former journalist and CEO of media and entertainment companies including EMAP and RELX in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and Rafat Ali is the founder and CEO of Skift, the largest industry intelligence and marketing platform in travel. Join them to gain insider knowledge on the future of the events industry.
2019 was a year marked by multiple mergers and acquisitions that redefined the event industry. Events have been the go-to strategy for event owners to grow businesses. Until 2020.
Should you diversify or specialize? How can you finance the growth of your event portfolio?
Join Rachel Wimberly, president of Tarsus Group and Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift, for an open conversation on how event owners can grow their event programs in 2021.
Event businesses have been hard hit from the coronavirus pandemic. How can you stay afloat and keep on going while the industry is facing the biggest crisis in years? Join event business owner Andrew Roby to develop a plan to navigate the crisis.
The pivot to virtual and hybrid events can be intimidating both logistically and economically. If do you manage to pull them off, will you make any money?
Join William Thompson of Gallus Events to find out how to maximize your profit from virtual engagement in both virtual and hybrid events.
How can event owners with complex portfolios assess the risks of running live events? How can they embrace innovation in order to future proof their businesses?
Join Oscar Cerezales, global executive VP of MCI Group’s Corporate Division, in an open conversation about risk assessment for large event conglomerates.
Join us as we dive into the value of making meaningful connections at events. We’ll discuss how to break the ice (in a super cool way), pair people together for shared purposes, connect them to your brand and sponsors and keep them connected long after your event ends.
The future of events is diverse and inclusive. How can we ensure that our organizations and events are welcoming and represent the demographics they serve?
Join Ashanti Bentil-Dhue, founder of Diversity Ally and co-founder of Black in Events, to begin the work of making your events more diverse and inclusive.
Whether you are going virtual or planning for hybrid, engagement remains the number one challenge. Join Corey McCarthy for an insight into the future of event engagement.
There is no denying that food and beverage will not look the same for quite some time at events. How can we guarantee our attendees enjoy refreshments safely?
Join Experiential Architect and Blueprint Studios Director of Corporate Sales Lenny Talarico to learn how to safely offer food and beverage options for your audience.
The growing uncertainty of running events during a pandemic calls for stronger crisis communication plans. How can you prepare to reschedule your events? How should you communicate crisis to your attendees?
Join Nifty Method’s VP of Experience Strategy Alex Plaxen to get a practical plan of engagement with your attendees.
Live experiences will come back with a vengeance. What will they look like and how can we safely plan for those? Join former Airbnb and Apple producer Erika Brulé to design your plan for the comeback.
What does sustainability look like after the Coronavirus crisis? Virtual events may leave an indelible mark on the transition to a more sustainable event industry. Sustainability needs to be top of mind for the event industry, now more than ever.