An unwavering determination to problem-solve and meet goals is what makes Elizabeth Petersen a rising star in the events industry.
Petersen, CMP and director of education and events on the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Dallas/Fort Worth chapter board of directors, has worn just about every hat the industry has to offer, and currently serves as event specialist and education meetings administrator for Society of Petroleum Engineers, International (SPE).
In addition to working on the logistics of three conferences, a forum, multiple workshops and several association meetings side projects, Petersen planned for MPI/DW’s largest event of the year: the March Tech Summit. MPI/DW chapter president Tony Cummins has noted that despite Petersen’s “soft approach,” she’s perceived as powerful, a quality in which she takes pride.
“I am proud of achieving calmness during a storm throughout my life,” she says. “Emotional intelligence is something that I will continue to develop.”
A hospitality management graduate from University of Northern Texas, Petersen has quickly worked her way up from front desk agent to catering and conference planning assistant, to event specialist, among several other hospitality positions. Understanding the business from every angle has helped shape her blooming career.
“I am always eager to share any thoughts, ideas and failures to make my MPI chapter and my SPE work environment better,” she says.
So what’s next for the star on the rise? Helping plan a largely influential event, such as a TED conference or World Economic Forum, is on her list of goals.
In less than a year, Shameka Jennings has shown her colleagues, event attendees and clients that planning is in her blood.
Jennings’ title is programming manager for National League for Nursing (NLN), but as her colleagues can attest, her role encompasses so much more.
“She has produced top-notch work as a Certified Meeting Professional because she is dedicated to making sure that each and every element of a meeting is well-thought out and each member, VIP, volunteer and vendor has an excellent experience,” says Mike Kristek, deputy chief administration officer for NLN. “Keeping on top of meeting and event logistics, and making sure all parts come together seamlessly are what she does best.”
Jennings’ passion for her job is palpable. Bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to learn from and enjoy one another is what fuels her success.
“Being able to offer a space for people to grow professionally, make connections through passions and education, and to have a good time has always inspired me to come to work daily to be my best self,” Jennings says.
She recently coordinated a 1,300-person, multiday annual conference with more than 100 concurrent sessions and 100 exhibitors. She managed registration, speakers, vendors and volunteers; incorporated lots of engaging activities; and developed and marketed the company’s first mobile app, which more than 1,160 attendees adopted.
As for the future, Jennings hopes to pay it forward. Creating a mentorship program to connect with the future meetings industry is among her goals.
After working at Cvent, a meetings management software company, for less than two years, Kristen Koenig brought one of the world’s largest medical device companies to the technology platform—a goal she set for herself and proudly achieved. She was later named Employee of the Year, much to her disbelief.
“To be recognized by your peers and leadership for such an award was truly an honor,” Koenig says. “And all of a sudden I realized: This is what I’m meant to be doing!”
An out-of-box-thinker, Koenig continually works with her customers and colleagues to challenge the status quo. She currently serves as director of sales, global meetings and events for World Travel, Inc., where her core responsibilities are to analyze the current state of clients’ meetings programs and, based on the needs, provide services and solutions to the customer.
Koenig also serves as ambassador on the 2016 Winit partnerships committee. When asked what her future goals are, the still-rising star responded, “I would love being the ultimate point-person for clients with growing meetings programs who need intuitive insight into how to button up their spend and make their meetings program easier.”
“I will continue to build relationships with industry experts, especially through representation on Winit and GBTA [Global Business Travel Association], to work in connection with major thinkers to improve MICE programs through use of best-in-class technologies and systems.”
At a young age, Aoife Delaney’s list of accolades is already impressive. She was selected as Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) president-elect for 2017, making her the youngest president in the organization’s 42-year history.
As director of global sales, Delaney oversees Ovation Global DMC’s sales and marketing strategy—everything from how the company markets and where, to the brand’s appearance and feel.
“What truly motivates me is a happy client—as cliche as it might sound, there is nothing better than that feeling of satisfaction when a client tells you that your team ran an amazing program,” Delaney says. “I love to hear when Ovation has done something so special that we have made an impact on even the most seasoned of travelers.”
Delaney has her sights set on promoting industry wellness as a future endeavor.
“We need to focus on how we can look after our team [members] so that they are empowered to do it all—to have this amazing career and still have time for themselves, their friends and their family,” she says.
Louisa Pratt has quickly risen to director of content at Mining Indaba, managing all programming for the world’s largest mining investment conference, which is the largest mining event in all of Africa. The annual conference attracts 7,000 industry professionals.
Her key responsibilities include identifying the key trends in the mining sector, developing compelling discussions to be had within the Mining Indaba platform, ensuring the smooth flow and easy navigation of the content, and securing the appropriate thought leaders as speakers at the conference.
In her second year managing the event, Pratt significantly expanded the program, recruited great leaders in the field, worked with mining ministers from more than 20 African nations and delivered presentations in front of thousands. She also introduced the Young Leaders Career Development program, a career workshop that South African undergraduates and recent graduates can attend at no cost to hear presentations from mining executives and other professionals in the field.
“Louisa has knowledge and poise well beyond her years of experience,” says Phillip Lofaso, group marketing director of Mining Idaba. “She is also a marathon runner, a huge help to marketing and sales, a joy to work with and just the nicest person you’ve ever met.”