Meetings Canada


M+IT 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced at IncentiveWorks

Meetings + Incentive Travel (M+IT) announced its 2014 Hall of Fame inductees this morning in a special, live  presentation at IncentiveWorks 2014, Canada’s leading meeting, events and incentive travel trade show and conference, running August 19-20 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“This year’s inductees are a tremendous group of people who have made, and continue to make, great contributions to the industry,” says Robin Paisley, general manager, IncentiveWorks™. “We are thrilled to welcome them into the M+IT Group Hall of Fame.”

The 2014 inductees are:

2014 INDUSTRY VETERAN: Cynthia Richards, President, Event Spectrum

This award recognizes a planner or supplier who has, during a long career, distinguished themselves by demonstrating leadership and innovation in all facets of their job and the industry as a whole. Cynthia has demonstrated vision, integrity and leadership every day of her 30 years in the event management industry. As president of her company since 1997, she has been celebrated as one of Toronto’s Best Bosses and been on Profit Magazine’s list of the top Canadian Women Entrepreneurs for seven years in a row. She has mentored—and continues to mentor–many members of the industry. Richards recognizes the need to give talented young people their first shot at meaningful work experience. To do that, she launched the innovative “Stand Up, Stand Out” competition this year. It gives a recent event management grad the opportunity to participate in a great FAM to Jamaica and the chance to stand up and stand out in the competitive events industry.  Cynthia preaches, and practices, coaching and collaboration and celebrating an industry she believes in passionately.

2014 INDUSTRY PLANNER: Julie Calvert, CMM, CMP, Manager of Events & Regional Programs, The Canadian Payroll Association

This award recognizes Canada’s top meeting or incentive-travel planner. The list of criteria includes at least five years of industry experience, client satisfaction, business acumen and mentorship. Julie impressed the judges with the depth and breadth of her experience. She has planned incentive travel trips on land and sea, put together high profile corporate meetings and organized major trade shows. She has created and finalized master service agreements to support strategic meeting management initiatives, standardized RFP templates and developed a best practices manual for her planning team. She served as the vice-chair of the FICP 2013 conference and is on the planning committee for the 2014 conference. At the conference, she delivered a presentation on the partnership between procurement departments and the meetings group. Julie says that her journey through this wonderful profession has connected her with some inspiring mentors and great business partners, and that she continues to be inspired by her industry peers.

2014 INDUSTRY BUILDER: Johanne Bélanger, CPA, CA, president, Freeman Audio Visual Canada

This award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who has developed best practices, created professional guidelines and/or who has built a product or service that has improved the way the industry does business. Johanne’s impact on the industry is wide-ranging. She has volunteered tirelessly to increase local tourism, developed industry standards for live events, and created company-level corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that have been recognized and adopted by other segments of the industry. Under her leadership, Freeman was the first audio visual solutions company to receive InfoComm International’s Green AV Award and has been identified as a pioneer of the Green AV movement. Johanne has also championed women’s rights in the male-dominated audio visual industry and was the introductory keynote speaker at the first-ever Women in Technology Symposium at InfoComm 2013. In addition, she spearheaded a partnership with MPI chapters to bring CSR initiatives into their community. The Events for Communities of Sustainability (ECOS) Project is a five-year commitment between Freeman and MPI to give back to Canadian communities. It’s an industry changer, just like Johanne.

2014 INDUSTRY INNOVATOR: Bob Vaez, CEO, EventMobi

This award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who has implemented a service or product that has increased productivity and/or modernized the industry. An engineer by training, Bob attended hundreds of events and tradeshows to connect with other experts while working in Silicon Valley in the mid-2000s. In 2009, he found himself frustrated by the disparity between the ease with which he could access information and connect with others online in his daily life and his experiences at conferences and events. That frustration fueled innovation. He started EventMobi and built one of the first mobile apps for events with the mission to understand and help remove the barriers that kept planners and attendees from adopting new technology, specifically the use of smartphones at events. Fast forward five years. Since its inception, the company has been used by more than 4,000 event planners in 40 countries to modernize thousands of events while reducing paper waste, enhancing attendees’ experience, engaging participants, and creating new sponsorship opportunities. Bob recognizes that we are only at the beginning of the mobile, social and digital event revolution. He says, “In the grand scheme of things, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. It’s been an exciting journey thus far and I am honoured to be able to play a role in enabling events to go mobile.”

2014 INDUSTRY VOLUNTEER: Sandra Moniz, CMP, Business Development Manager, Eastern Canada for Meetings & Conventions Calgary

This award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who gives freely of their time and expertise in the promotion of industry associations, groups, professional industry chapters or charity work. Encouraged by one of her first industry mentors to “be as involved as possible,” Sandra has been a member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) for more than 15 of her 20 years in the industry and has explained the importance of MPI to her role and the industry to every manager she’s worked for. She has volunteered on a wide variety of MPI committees, held a seat on the board of directors for multiple years, and championed her local chapter’s mentorship program. She is also chair of the CSAE Trillium Chapter’s Summer Summit, sits on CanSPEP’s partner advisory board and is an active member of the Meetings Industry Euchre Tournament’s organizing committee, a meetings industry event that raises monies for cancer research at the world renowned Princess Margaret Hospital. In her spare time, she volunteers as fundraising coordinator for her son’s baseball team and is the founder and organizer of a local program that helps mentor moms to give back and stay sane.

2014 INDUSTRY MENTOR: Janet L. Jakobsen, CMP, MBA, Professor, Niagara College

This award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who, through their expertise, professional influence or academic position, has provided others with the opportunity, inspiration or ability to pursue excellence. Janet says that from her earliest years, she was challenged by her grandmother—her first mentor—to live up to John F. Kennedy’s famous assertion: “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” Her career achievements include working for a variety of suppliers in the hospitality industry; being one of the first Canadians and first suppliers to earn her CMP; and returning to school while balancing work and motherhood to earn an MBA. She was also the first Canadian and the first supplier to chair PCMA’s International Education Committee, and she is the longest serving member of MPI Foundation Canada. But our inductee is equally, if not more, proud of her impact on others and their impact on her. Throughout her career, she has advised and aided countless colleagues, students and even, bosses. And in turn, they have helped her. Mentoring she has learned, is non-directional; it is not defined by time, by age or by years of experience. It is, always, rewarding.

2014 INDUSTRY RISING STAR: Kyra Whale, Program Manager, Meridican Consultants 

This award recognizes a planner or supplier, with two to five years experience in the industry, who has demonstrated leadership, and the desire to become an ambassador for the industry. Kyra won over the judges with her tenacity and enthusiasm for the industry. While earning a Bachelor of Commerce in hospitality and tourism management, she organized events including an Orientation Week for 800 residence students. After graduation, she went to work as a program manager for a major incentive house, where she spent two years planning and executing programs ranging from managing room blocks of 10,000 room nights to programs for 700 people in international destinations. She then challenged herself by crossing the industry street to the supplier side. Working at a leading luxury hotel she was able to build her knowledge of the industry while using her planner training to anticipate client needs. This spring, she returned to her planner roots. An active member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), she serves on committees and contributes articles to her local chapter’s magazine. Grateful for the support she’s received in her career, she says that she works hard to ensure that she is just as helpful to other industry members looking for direction and assistance.

2014 The Big Idea: Patricia Brusha, co-founder and principal, A Couple of Chicks and Online Revealed, for “Game Changer: Meet – Mentor – Educate.”

New this year, the Big Idea category was created to honor an individual supplier or planner who has come up with and implemented an idea that has significantly improved the productivity, profitability, culture and/or operational systems of the specific company/business they work for or own and/or the industry. Patricia’s “big idea” was inspired by a comment from her daughter about the number of people she knew after working in the industry for 36 years.  The remark got her thinking about ways to introduce upcoming and recent grads to the faces behind the big brands in a non-intimidating way. She reflected on people and paths that had helped her develop her own career and identified three elements that had helped her thrive in the industry. Her Big Idea launched on April 7th alongside an industry digital marketing conference. It gave attendees access to mentors from companies like Google, Caesars Entertainment, Marriott and more. Created to run alongside conferences or as a standalone event, colleges and associations have already committed to running the event in the coming year.

M+IT is the owner of  Canada’s premier events, meeetings and incentive travel industry magazine and website as well as IncentiveWorks. It launched its Hall of Fame in 2009 to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in the Canadian meetings and incentive travel industry. Inductees are selected from nominations put forth by industry peers in seven categories: Rising Star, Volunteer, Builder, Planner, Innovator, The Big Idea and Mentor. An eighth award, Industry Veteran, is given out to individuals at the discretion of M+IT.  Nomination forms for the 2015 Hall of Fame will be available on on January 8, 2015.

The Hall of Fame Program is sponsored by:

Travel Alberta

Tourism Toronto

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