by Sarah J.F. Braley, Michael J. Shapiro and Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 01, 2017

Kristen Koenig

Director of sales, global meetings; strategic meetings management / World Travel / Philadelphia

Kristen Koenig was just 21 when she started in the industry, at meetings-tech giant Cvent. "I grew up there," she says, "where a lot was available to me." That included the chance to join industry organizations, which she did immediately. "I was very lucky to get the experience to go to GBTA [the Global Business Travel Association Convention] and get that high-level, executive perspective when I was so young," she notes.

Nearly seven years later, Koenig has established herself as a leader and wants to give others similar opportunities. Last year, she founded the Philadelphia chapter of Young Travel Professionals, a global organization that now has 16 chapters. "It's a great way to bring Millennials into the fold," she says. Joining YTP is free, and the structure is casual, simply providing networking opportunities; it also helps Koenig introduce new members to other groups she's involved with -- like Women in Travel, MPI and GBTA.

At World Travel, Koenig leads technology integration and partnerships for small- to medium-size businesses, and helps clients make better use of technology, the knowledge of which, she says, "really makes you see things in a different light when you're working with operations, account management and any part of the industry."


Victoria Lee

Assistant manager of global travel and meetings / Estée Lauder Companies / New York City

Victoria Lee thought she'd become an English professor, but even while studying at Baruch University in New York City, she found herself planning events for her sorority and decided it was her true calling. She has since become a champion of strategic meetings management, a role she came to through a job in strategic sourcing at Estée Lauder about five years ago.

At the cosmetic company, "I'm working to roll out SMM globally, reintroduce policy and revamp our current processes," she says. "I'm also responsible for hotels and how we can leverage our meetings and transient spend."

In her spare time, Lee is on the board of the New York Area chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association and is its director of programming. A personal goal is to visit 30 countries by the time she's 30 (she's up to 22 so far). "My favorite place so far is Kenya," she notes. "Nairobi was an amazing experience."


Roger Lehner and Milda Salciute
work two IMEX events.

Organizing coordinator

Knowledge and events executive / IMEX Exhibitions / Brighton, U.K.

Roger Lehner grew up in Switzerland and Milda Salciute was born in Lithuania; they now find themselves in Southern England, working on two of the meetings industry's largest events, IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America, and together head up the internal Green Squad for IMEX Exhibitions.

Salciute works on education and events, helping create close to 200 sessions for both shows. Lehner handles issues with the venues and suppliers for co-located events, oversees booth construction and more.

The Green Squad feeds a passion for both of them. Says Lehner, "The idea is to keep the message of sustainability and CSR present in everyone, as well as generate new ideas and discuss how to implement them."

Lehner started out in finance in Switzerland, working for Alternative Bank, which focuses on responsible investing, and planned events for the World Wildlife Fund to complete his Swiss civil service. Salciute got a master's degree in tourism in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the topic of sustainability caught her interest.

At IMEX America this past October, the duo's latest initiative involved encouraging people to use travel coffee cups instead of wasting paper cups. "Small things, creative ways of sending messages, really work," notes Salciute, "and people come back to us with more ideas."


Christina McCoy

Manager, events and communities / International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions / Middleton, Wis.

While double majoring in public relations and telecommunications at the University of Wisconsin--LaCrosse, Christina McCoy found herself planning social events like a winter formal and a local leadership meeting.

She joined IAIABC after college as an events and education coordinator, assisting with conferences. Now, more than eight years later, she is in charge of its two annual conferences, handling budgets, speakers, hotel negotiations and the organization's third-party team.

McCoy is thriving in the association world, now serving as vice chair of the ASAE Young Professionals Committee, and she participated in ASAE's Next Gen Leaders Summit last summer in Reno, Nev.

"I'm a typical type A," she says, "very detail-oriented but able to look at the greater mission and pull all the pieces together." McCoy now has even more to manage, having welcomed her second child on New Year's Day.

Shana Pepin

Project associate, strategic programs / IEEE Meetings, Conferences & Events / Piscataway, N.J.

"From what I read," says Shana Pepin, CMP, "Millennials need to be moving constantly from job to job. But I've been at IEEE for more than five years -- since before college graduation, actually, because I temped there. I'm not searching for that next best thing."

Neither is she content to get too comfortable in one role, however, and that's what Pepin appreciates about her experience with IEEE. Once she cut her teeth working with the registration group, she moved to the strategic programs group -- unofficially known as the company's "new style" events team, which specializes in more experimental, interactive meeting formats.

Pepin is now responsible for producing the wildly successful Women in

Engineering International Leadership Conference held in San Jose, Calif. Attendance went from 375 in 2014, the show's first year, to nearly 1,200 last year. Since 2015, Pepin has managed all the people who are involved in the show, including volunteers and speakers. She keeps everyone ahead of deadlines, handles mobile-app vendor selection and production, and manages the public relations team. For this year's event in May, she expects attendance to top 1,500.

"This event is really my baby," says Pepin. "I've watched it take off from being in a small hotel to a convention center. Now we've grown out of the center, and we're looking at holding special events in the tech museum across the street."

The best part, Pepin adds, is that the event is open to new ideas. "We'd love for other groups within the IEEE volunteer community to see what Women in Engineering is doing and look to us as experts in that area. WIE has just surpassed all of our expectations."