Our fourth annual ranking presents a select list of high achievers committed to bettering the world of meetings and beyond.
In an industry dominated by women, many not only excel at their jobs, but shape the future of meetings and events. M&C's fourth annual list of the Top 25 Women in the Meetings Industry applauds outstanding professionals who've demonstrated extraordinary talent, leadership, creativity and advocacy in our field.
Following are profiles of this year's most exemplary female meeting professionals.
- Gloria Guevara Manzo
The travel industry faces three critical challenges: security and travel facilitation, crisis management, and sustainability, according to Gloria Manzo Guevara, mexican president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council. Helping destinations address these issues is a priority for this former secretary of tourism for Mexico, who took the helm of the WTTC in 2017.
"Travel and tourism are set to grow by 4 percent a year over the next 10 years. It is in all our interests to maximize the opportunities of this growth, first, security and travel facilitation, at borders and airports, is fundamental. Without people traveling safely and securely, there is no tourism." Biometrics could be the answer to move people faster and give them a better experience, she believes.
Her second concern: "ensuring our destinations, companies and communities are resilient."
On the third challenge "planning for growth to ensure tourism benefits all, taking action on climate change, providing inclusive and sustainable jobs, and making sure we are socially responsible. Technological innovation and the digital agenda will be critical to delivering a sustainable future for our sector."
- Danielle Babilino
The senior vice president of global sales and marketing for Hard Rock Hotels, Danielle Babilino loves opening hotels. She caught the bug in 1998, working in Las Vegas for Circus Circus, which was then developing the Mandalay Bay resort casino that is now owned by MGM.
"It was a fabulous run, we had to put all the practices in place. Circus Circus was still male-dominated, but they really believed in hiring the best people and giving them the bandwidth to succeed."
Of her own career path, "I've been given wonderful opportunities by people who trusted me," says Babilino, adding, "I have an obligation to pay that forward to people coming up the ranks."Final del formulario
- Handan Boyce
"It is breathtaking, lively, dynamic, historic, mysterious, exotic and modern," says Handan Boyce about Istanbul, the city she has represented since 2003, now as general manager of the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre. "I live here, and it still surprises me."
Boyce plans to grow her venue's reputation as a center of learning, entertainment, art and culture, and provide innovative solutions to clients, all while ensuring that delegates and visitors have an engaged experience.
As she puts it, "It is our mission and responsibility to revive and contribute to the reputation and potential of Istanbul as one of the world's leading meetings industry destinations."
- Melinda Burdette, CMP, HMCC
Since December 2015, Melinda Burdette has been director of events for Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International, helping to shape the association's signature World Education Congress and numerous other events each year.
Burdette is a die-hard Atlanta Braves and Georgia Bulldogs fan and once worked as part of the game-day staff for the Braves.
Meanwhile, "I love nothing more than executing an event," she says. "Our job as meeting planners is to contain the chaos behind the curtain. I call it managing controlled explosions."
- Amber Chen, CMP
Ecomobility -- affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly transit -- is a growing international movement, but not one readily embraced by communities. That was a challenge for Amber Chen, assistant vice president for professional congress organizer GIS Group, in planning the Ecomobility World Festival 2017 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, her home country.
The program was honored by the meetings industry in May, when Chen -- who often cycles to work -- received the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers' annual Driving Excellence Award.
Monica Dickenson, CMP, SMMC
The medical/pharmaceutical realm is highly specialized, involving complex federal regulations. Monica Dickenson's ability to thrive in this niche is a testament to her savvy, energy and love of a good challenge.
Dickenson is the head of global meetings and events for Shire, a leading global biotechnology company focused on serving people living with rare diseases and highly specialized conditions, headquartered in Dublin. "I really love the strategic aspect of all this," she says. "It's like a mental puzzle trying to figure out where the pieces fall" for some 700-plus meetings and events around the globe.
Her advice to young women: "Keep moving forward. Push through, even if you're told you can't or shouldn't."
- Maura Allen Gast, FCDME
In 2017, Irving, Texas, welcomed some 3.75 million visitors who spent $2.68 billion and supported 22,168 jobs. Maura Gast has been dedicated to upping those statistics for more than 27 years, starting at the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau as director of the film commission and cycling through other roles before taking the helm as the bureau's executive director in 2003.
Among Gast's successes are the building of both the Irving Convention Center, which opened in January 2011, and a headquarters hotel, the 350-room Westin Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, which opens in January. "Most of the time we inherit those opportunities, we seldom get the luxury to see all these things through."
To read the full story, click on the following link and learn more about those women who know how to succeed in the events industry