by M&C Staff | October 01, 2016

 • Kimberly Meyer
The co-founder and CEO of data firm Meetings Analytics, Kimberly Meyer never gets tired of talking about meetings. "So I'm only a good cocktail party guest for the first hour," she jokes. And what Meyer talks about most is an aspect of the industry that hasn't gotten enough attention: data.

Before she co-founded Meetings Analytics with technology expert Peter Matthews in 2008, it wasn't possible for meetings managers to get the kind of insight her company provides -- data that had already changed the rules of the game for corporate travel and procurement managers. And in the eyes of many industry insiders, Meyer's company remains in a class of its own.

"No one else is offering what she does, in terms of SMM analytics," says industry veteran Kevin Iwamoto, senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. "You absolutely need to be able to get all of this data and analyze it to tell the whole story, especially if your program is global."

Meyer already knew a thing or two about meetings management before she launched her firm, having worked on a number of Fortune 200 companies' meeting programs and more than 100 major meetings and events around the world. She also had expertly managed more than a dozen acquisitions of meetings management, event  production, trade show and related companies. She clearly understood what the missing pieces were for corporations.

As a result of the work done by Meetings Analytics, clients get a level of transparency in their spend that wasn't attainable before. In turn, those managing the meetings programs at these companies can far more easily drive accountability and efficiency. "I'm proud to report the facts objectively and allow heads of travel and meetings to prove their success with hard, unbiased data," says Meyer.

 • Fiona Pelham
Sustainable meetings have been the lifeblood of Fiona Pelham's independent planning career, currently as managing director of Manchester, U.K.-based Sustainable Events Ltd., which she founded. This year, however, Pelham is spending the bulk of her time in a volunteer role as chairperson of MPI's international board of directors.

In this role, she says, "I've experienced the passion those in our industry have for bringing people together. I want businesses and governments to understand that meetings are the key to achieving global sustainable development goals, including gender equality, an end to food poverty and much more."

Pelham notes that 2017 is the United Nations' International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, a cause she can get behind: "With Positive Impact [a nonprofit she founded in 2005], we have created a campaign to raise the profile of events, so the UN and global governments will understand the positive power events can have on communities and the environment."  

 • Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, HMCC
No one has done more to advance the cause of education in the medical meetings realm than Pat Schaumann, senior director of health-care compliance at Maritz Travel. She has authored a number of books on the subject, and her Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance is considered the gold-standard text in the field.

Previously, as director of professional development in the health-care sector for Meeting Professionals International, Schaumann founded the Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate program, which at press time is on the cusp of surpassing more than 1,000 certifications granted to medical meeting professionals. In February of this year, Schaumann founded MPI-MD, a specialty community within MPI for health-care meeting pros that grew to 800 members in less than four weeks.

This past June, Schaumann left MPI to join Maritz Travel, which gives her the opportunity to shape the company's new health-care solution for clients, as well as to lead the team charged with ensuring that every aspect of the service they provide is in line with the latest and constantly evolving regulations. One aspect she's particularly excited about: a new technology tool scheduled to launch at the beginning of this month.

"The tool is designed strictly for medical meetings reporting, and it's going to be revolutionary," Schaumann says, noting that it includes contract management, business rules, honoraria, tax management and more, all crucial functions for the management of medical meetings and which she found lacking in existing technology.

Clearly, Schaumann believes education and technology innovation are essential to success in this specialized field. "Compliance is going to get harder over the next three to five years," she warns. "Anything that can make medical meeting planning easier has got to be better than what we have now."

 • Debi Scholar, CMP, CMM, CTE, GLP
Long known as a walking Wikipedia on strategic meetings management, Debi Scholar has more recently trained her focus on digital and hybrid events. In her day job as global director, virtual technologies, meetings, congresses and events, for a global pharmaceutical firm, her efforts to improve health-care provider education via virtual meetings have "surpassed all of our expectations," she says.

Over the past three years, she and various partners have developed numerous configurations, pricing models and processes for virtual and hybrid meetings, for both internal and external audiences. And Scholar recently worked with a small team to rewrite the Digital Event Strategist course offered by PCMA's Virtual Edge Institute -- the only globally recognized certification dedicated to that discipline.

Next up: Scholar, a respected SMM coach and mentor, aims to finish various book projects on topics such as collaborating through digital events, as well as updating previous works.

 • Yma Sherry
"Strategic meetings management is the last frontier in travel," says Yma Sherry. "Corporations are just now looking at this as a category of spend that can be managed. Helping them with that is a lot of fun. It's balancing the return on investment with the return on experience."

As vice president, North America, for American Express Meetings & Events, Sherry oversees a team of about 450 people running SMM programs for some 60 clients. Her path to this point included working her way up at Rosenbluth, a travel-management company for which she spent a year in London in charge of its European business. When she returned to the States in 2003, American Express bought Rosenbluth, and Sherry worked in various roles before joining the meetings group.

AEM&E publishes an industry forecast each October, based on survey results gathered from hundreds of its clients. One of Sherry's favorite ways to share the information is by attending industry events, and she is looking for more opportunities to spread the word in 2017 about how successful SMM programs can be. "Having those insights makes everyone more strategic and successful in their roles," she says.

 • Catherine Simmons
As vice president, strategic events, for San Francisco-based Salesforce, Catherine Simmons and her team are responsible for organizing one of the most mammoth and cutting-edge events today: Dreamforce, the huge software conference that has been described as a mash-up of TED, the Super Bowl and the Grammys.

Simmons has been involved in planning Dreamforce for eight years, and she has seen it grow bigger every year. The 2016 event, taking place this month, expects an estimated 170,000 attendees and more than 15 million online viewers engaging in roughly 2,500 breakout sessions and absorbing some 1,500 hours of content. The event includes leadership and philanthropy forums, A-list keynoters and headliners such as U2, Mark Cuban and Good Morning America's Robin Roberts -- and 20 monks.

"We are always trying something new," says Simmons, "and this year it's the monks. They will be leading mindfulness sessions."