As CEO of the IMEX Group, Carina Bauer (pictured) oversees all aspects of its two most popular shows.
The meetings industry is powered by a number of extraordinary people -- many of them women. In this special report, M&C turns the spotlight on 25 high achievers, advocates and innovators who have helped to shape and strengthen our business. Here's what makes these women exemplary (listed in alphabetical order). To access their own reflections on their proudest achievements and future goals, see box at the end of this article.
> Carina Bauer
Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, is a driving force behind the two largest global meetings exhibitions, IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America, both of which have enjoyed year-on-year growth since their launch. In her current role (she joined in 2002 and has been CEO since 2009), Bauer oversees all aspects of the shows and continually enhances their offerings, such as this year's "Be Well at IMEX" wellness initiative.
Bauer is a keen advocate for the meetings industry, working to ensure that corporations and politicians know the value meetings bring to company bottom lines and global economies. She has served as chair of the marketing committee for Meeting Professionals International's European Meetings & Events Conference and currently holds positions on the advocacy task force for the Professional Convention Management Association, the SITE International Foundation board and more. (See M&C's video interview with Bauer at mcmag.com/intheirownwords.)
> Tammy Blount
A rising star in the destination management industry, Tammy Blount serves as president and CEO of the Monterey (Calif.) Convention and Visitors Bureau and secretary/treasurer of the board of Destination Marketing Association International, placing her in line to be the association's fifth female chair. She is deeply committed to the growth and sustainability of destination management organizations, serving as co-chair of DMAI's Destination Next Task Force, an initiative launched to help DMOs survive and thrive in the future. Blount's proudest achievement is finding and mentoring young professionals and "watching their commitment to the industry and their careers grow."
> Rhonda Brewer
Vice president, sales, for St. Louis-based global meeting and incentive giant Maritz Travel, Rhonda Brewer has seen her profile rise even higher this past year, when she became president of SITE, the Society for Incentive Excellence. From this post, Brewer is leading an industrywide awareness campaign for a cause she's been devoted to for years: ending child sex trafficking in the travel industry.
Brewer has been instrumental in SITE's signing of the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct and educating SITE's global members through meetings and webcasts about this widespread and disturbing global issue. "I am proud to be able to serve such an amazing organization and make a difference by rolling out a strategy that will follow SITE for years to come," Brewer told M&C when the code was signed. (See M&C's video interview with Brewer at mcmag.com/intheirownwords.)
> Karen Chupka
The International Consumer Electronics Show has grown to become the largest global hands-on showcase of emerging innovation under the helm of Karen Chupka, senior vice president of International CES and corporate business strategy with the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Electronics Association. Since Chupka took the reins in 2000, CES has grown from approximately 120,000 attendees to 170,000 in 2015, the largest show in the event's history.
Chupka has always been a strong proponent of supporting women in the industry: All of her direct reports on the CES strategic team are women, and fully 50 percent of the CEA senior staff is female. Not coincidentally, this past April Chupka was named winner of the International Association for Exhibitions and Events' Woman of Achievement Award for her outstanding leadership.
> Sallie Coventry
Just 32 when she became managing director of W&O, formerly a major events-management agency in the United Kingdom, Sallie Coventry oversaw a team of 35 and controlled an annual budget of more than US$25 million. In three years, she guided her key accounts to double-digit growth.
Coventry now heads up the Richmond, U.K.-based IBTM global events portfolio for Reed Exhibitions. She is guiding the group of shows through a significant transition period of name and format changes -- an evolution that, if successful, could prove an industry model for tailoring the scope of a trade show to the market it serves. Coventry oversees the former European Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, now IBTM World, as well as IBTM shows in Africa, America, Arabia, China and India, among other shows.
> Lisa Sommer Devlin
While Lisa Sommer Devlin has practiced law since 1984, she didn't narrow her focus to hospitality until the early '90s. Today, as principal in the Devlin Law Firm in Phoenix, she creates standardized hotel contracts, provides legal training for hotel sales staff and handles meetings-related litigation for major hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott and Starwood.
Planners and suppliers alike flock to Devlin's sessions at industry events and conventions, where she stresses one main message: The parties in hotel agreements need to communicate better at the start in order to avoid problems later.
> Tracy Halliwell, MBE
The meetings industry celebrates its best and brightest with a number of awards, but it would be hard to top Tracy Halliwell's honor: The director of business tourism and major events for London & Partners was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's 2014 Birthday Honours list, cited for her services to business tourism and meetings by Prince William himself.
Halliwell works closely with London's Mayor Boris Johnson and other city stakeholders to develop and build the British capital's business and events sector. The many high-profile events her team has handled include hundreds of programs in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
> Ping He
A veteran member of the Maritz Travel and Experient teams, Shanghai, China, native Ping He was named global general manager of the Asia Pacific markets for the merged company in 2013. In this role, He develops strategic partnerships in that fast-developing region on behalf of Maritz, and provides cultural insights to enhance client-program experiences. She is credited as being the architect of Experient's global service strategy, as well as spearheading the establishment of the company's Global Sourcing Division. Outside her day-to-day role, the Chicago-based He has been an adviser to several DMCs in Asia Pacific and often speaks on global initiatives at industry events. In 2012, He was honored by IMEX and PCMA as the first-ever Global Meetings Executive of the Year.
In the groove: Liz King and friends
> Liz King
Liz King, founder of New York City-based Liz King Events, has become the go-to resource for meetings tech. In 2011, she created an annual one-day event to educate planners about the latest developments in the field, called #techsytalk Live, her proudest achievement to date.
King also has amassed a highly engaged audience online with more than 17,000 followers (and counting) on Twitter and her blog, techsytalk.com, which has won the #eventprofs Most Thought Provoking Blog and People's Choice awards.
> Jessica L. Levin, MBA, CMP, CAE
When Twitter began, Jessica L. Levin quickly embraced the medium, providing a steady stream of pithy, wise 140-character posts. She quickly made a mark as a smart planner with a firm grasp on social media's implications for the meetings realm. With a background in professional services, association management and business-to-business marketing, Levin teaches how to embrace social platforms as a way to build and bolster both corporate and personal brands.
"I want to be known as a fresh thinker who looks at what we are doing today, what makes sense, what doesn't and what we need to think about to make change tomorrow," says the president and "chief connector" for Edison, N.J.-based Seven Degrees Communications LLC. Levin also serves as president of the New Jersey Professional Services Marketers Association and director of community services for PCMA's Greater New York Chapter. (See M&C's video interview with Levin at mcmag.com/intheirownwords.)