Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group

Inspiration: I enjoy what I do, the industry we’re in and, most of all, the team I work with. They inspire me every day.

Superpower: Big arms—I can handle a wide variety of work and projects at the same time!

Top Action Item: The day before the show at IMEX in Frankfurt, we launched an amazing program called She Means Business. I hope that by speaking up for women, championing women in the industry and showcasing women as leaders we will be able to help all women—at whatever level of their career—to aspire to achieve their dreams.

Tammy Blount, president and CEO, Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and chair, board of Destinations International

Inspiration: Courage to lead and do the right thing regardless of the consequences. Empowered humans. Hope. Love.

Superpower: My team and fiance identify it as Jedi Mind Control, the ability to gain collaboration and consensus.

Action Item: Use my superpower to inspire people to live with courage and a sense of adventure, and to understand what we do is important—we build communities, create lifelong memories of important experiences, fuel economies, and are the conduit for global safe passage and peaceful coexistence.

Dahlia El Gazzar, tech evangelist and “idea igniteur,” Dahlia+

Inspiration: I’m inspired by challenges. When organizations or people can’t figure something out, and they get in their own way, this is when I step in as a soundboard, and bring a mix of solution options or new ideas to the table. Everyone deserves a passionate soundboard. You should never try to figure out something alone.

Superpower: The ability to read people, “netweave,” bring the right team together with their own superpowers, who can make a “mindstamping” change. Whether it’s helping someone with their phone at a tech bar, navigating a tech challenge for an association, or coming up with how you can leverage tech to design better experiences, my superpower is coming up with the secret sauce of talent and tech that can help.

Action Item: We empower people with smart solutions. It is so easy to be so overwhelmed that we can’t get out of our own way to create new habits and new experiences. Tech, event design and digital marketing is going to be a fast ride, believe me. If I can simplify the use of tech and digital solutions to enable better events; or create new habits that will clear agendas, so people can push their own projects and dreams to a point where they can ‘ship it’ (as Seth Godin says), then I’ve achieved my mission.

Polly Grieger-Rossi, president, Meeting Achievements

Inspiration: What inspires me most are people—our team, our customers, my family and my friends. I have a great personal commitment to be better today than I was yesterday, and I try to instill that in everyone I meet. If we are only 1 percent better each day, the world wins. I get inspired to do things better, try new things, change procedures and develop events based on this core belief. I find it very inspiring to be around people who are trying to live their best lives, and evolve both mentally and physically.

Superpower: Thought leadership. I’m always trying to come up with new concepts and ways to share them with the world. If I had to pick a character for my superpower, it would be an archer—on-target, hardworking and respectful of others’ time, logical, analytical, strategic and principled.

Action Item: I recently started following Meeting Planners Against Human Trafficking, a small grassroots organization in Canada. Because of them, I am now asking the important questions of my supplier partners. While it may seem small, the ripple effect has tremendous reach. Together we can reach extraordinary results.

Kate Patay, chief strategy officer, Patay Consulting

Inspiration: I’m inspired by an industry that works so tirelessly to bring together people for world-changing and life-altering events. When our unified voices are heard, it really is pretty amazing. Meetings, live events and face-to-face connections are how we move forward and advance as a society, whether we are launching new products, celebrating family and marriage, or organizing rallies to speak up for what’s right. Our industry really is more of a catalyst to such greater influence than many of us realize.

Superpower: Assisting others to find their voice and connecting them with the right people in meaningful ways. Whether it is an individual, a team or a brand, I like to hone in on what special, unique qualities they have, and help them to find where they fit. Life is all about relationships, so creating authentic relationships in all aspects of work and personal life is key. I have surrounded myself with strong, dynamic individuals by creating a diverse network of friends and colleagues. If I can help lead others to do the same, then I’m doing my job.

Action Item: I am speaking up and speaking out. Doing the right thing, even if it isn’t the easiest or most popular action, is crucial for long-term success. Not only teaching, but leading by example in an ethical and moral manner, and holding people accountable for their actions, is necessary. I’ll always be a work-in-progress, who will never stop learning and growing. I have found staying positive, cutting out negative or toxic influences, and doing the right thing will bring the right thing to you.

Deborah Sexton, founder and principal, DLS and Associates

Inspiration: People who are willing to challenge the status quo and break paradigms. Those who are curious, demand change when appropriate, and are constantly striving to evolve strategies, approaches and process.

The Business Event Strategist movement is an example of how the industry will approach the future of events. These trailblazing individuals will lead and reap success by contributing to their organization’s year-round engagement strategy through experience design, flawlessly executed events and extending the life of their event content. Logistics are very important and necessary—but strategy, capabilities and culture need to be aligned and designed together to create true transformation and meet audience rising expectations.

Superpower: Unwavering passion for the business events industry. I wake up in the middle of the night with “what ifs.”

Action item: I would reframe how we utilize and manage social media. With the current onslaught of accusations, we need to pause and be smart and cautious; recognizing agendas may be ‘in play” and that each individual should be given an opportunity to sincerely express themselves. The path many are pursuing could potentially isolate women, which would clearly put all of us at a serious future disadvantage. Don’t misunderstand, the truly guilty should lose everything!

More Visionaries

Julie Coker Graham

Co-chair, Meetings Mean Business

Sheila Johnson

CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts


More Smart Women

Trail Blazer

Industry Leader



Rising Star