Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 2014

PCMA's 20 in Their Twenties: The Future of the Meetings Industry

By Christopher Durso, Executive Editor

They're 29 or under. They work in meetings, conventions, and business events. And they're proven leaders. Presenting the winners of PCMA’s first-ever 20 in Their Twenties program.

Why wait? If you want to honor and encourage some of the best and brightest leaders in the industry today, and give their colleagues and peers something to aspire to tomorrow, why wait to recognize them when they're at the top of the heap?

That's the thinking behind PCMA's new 20 in Their Twenties program, whose first class of winners were honored at PCMA Convening Leaders 2014 in Boston this month. “Too often great leadership isn't recognized until the latter portion of careers,” said PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton. “20 in Their Twenties allowed PCMA to engage and acknowledge a talented group of young professionals for their skills and provide incentive for them to lead our industry into the future.”

Supported by the PCMA Education Foundation, the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Austin Convention Center, 20 in Their Twenties invited young meeting professionals to submit an application — including a video — showing how they demonstrated their leadership in at least three of these areas: creative thinking and problem solving, challenging the status quo, leading a team or project to achieve a common goal, elevating an industry network into business relationships, serving as an effective communicator, serving as a positive role model for PCMA's Code of Ethics, and demonstrating leadership in organizations (inside or outside the industry). Applicants were judged by a diverse task force of PCMA members. Winner benefits included registration, airfare, and hotel for PCMA Convening Leaders 2014; free PCMA membership for 2014 and discounted membership until age 30; and mentoring opportunities with PCMA's and the PCMA Education Foundation's volunteer leaders.

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to strategically partner with PCMA, the PCMA Education Foundation, and their 20 in Their Twenties initiative,” said Austin CVB President and CEO Bob Lander. “Developing new initiatives to involve and engage emerging leaders that promote innovation within the industry is critical to its proactive growth and continuing success. This is a focus in our city, and we all feel a sense of responsibility to attract, recruit, and retain talented, motivated, and productive young professionals to keep moving our industry forward.”

Read what this year's honorees have to say about their accomplishments and ambitions, and you'll feel pretty good about the industry's forward motion.


Marcela Torres
Marketing Intelligence Manager, Guadalajara Convention & Visitors Bureau Guadalajara, Mexico

What do you like most about your job?

The opportunity to represent my country around the world and share with people our meetings industry professionalism, the kindness of our people, the unique value of our traditions, our art, our flavors, and the full range of colors and contrasts that Mexico represents. The purpose of my job is to contribute to each family that depends on this industry and consequently acquire a better quality of life.

In addition, my job and our industry have allowed me to network with people from other cultures; through this I have reconfirmed the wonderful experiences our world offers.

Finally, I am thankful to have the opportunity to contribute and inspire my industry and society through the development of inclusive projects. I strongly believe that our meetings industry should aim to protect the natural and cultural capital of the world, and contribute to improve our community's quality of life, subsequently benefiting the destination where events are hosted.

What's the best day you've had in the meetings industry so far?

I have had several “best days.” However, the latest wonderful experience I have had was my recent participation during the bidding process for the 67th International Astro nautical Congress. For this event, it was necessary to make a monumental strategic plan, from creating a strategic promotion plan, training speakers, develop a bidding book, and lobbying with government authorities and members of the International Astro nautical Federation, to encouraging a whole delegation to become proud ambassadors of Mexico, Latin America, and a whole industry. I had the opportunity to share the value that my country has to offer in front of an audience that included prime ministers, innovation and technology secretaries, scientists, and academics from over 62 countries. This experience encompassed soul, heart, strong teamwork, decisive character, great leadership, and inspiration from each team member.

Where would you like your career to go?

In the medium term, I want to be part of the Mexico Tourism Board team. In the long term, I want to represent my country as the secretary of tourism for Mexico, and eventually retire as a college teacher and support or establish a nonprofit association dedicated to advocating education, so I can share with future generations the experience that life has given me. Through my passion and commitment to the MICE segment, I hope to inspire them to give the best of themselves and to continue to strengthen our industry by promoting projects with values like social responsibility, sustain ability, and serving as a vanguard.


Yasha Bergmann
Project Manager, uba GmbH Hamburg, Germany

What do you like most about your job?

As an event planner, I appreciate the variety of work I am doing. Every spring when our first events of the season kick off, I cannot wait to leave my desk and get out there and meet all the people I only knew from phone calls or emails so far.

What's the best day you've had in the meetings industry so far?

One of my most memorable experiences was at one of our largest events this year, when I happened to be at the main entrance the minute we opened, and hundreds of people carrying an incredible energy with them streamed past me into our event site.

Where would you like your career to go?

Our company is mainly active in the north of Germany; however, our bosses are looking into acquiring another company, which would benefit us greatly, and I would have the opportunity to enter the project teams of events with a much larger scale. PCMA has inspired me as a student and helped open the vast world of event planning for me. The expansion of our company will get me a little closer to one day play in the same league as the international heavyweights of the industry.


Shawn Cheng
Team Lead, Experience Vancouver Vancouver, Canada

What do you like most about your job?

It is different every day. I'm facing different challenges, meeting different people, and learning different things every day. It is also really satisfying to be able to assist visitors/guests to have a great experience while they visit Vancouver or attend the event I organized.

What's the best day you've had in the meetings industry so far?

I see myself still in the process of building my career, so it's a bit hard to find a “best day.” I enjoy every day in the industry, but like Rick Antonson, our CEO from Tourism Vancouver, always says: “The best is yet to come.” I do, however, have a proud moment so far, which was in 2012, when I received the Rising Star Award from MPI's British Columbia Chapter, nominated by industry peers.

Where would you like your career to go?

I would love to know more about different sides of the CVB operation. I believe tourism business can create a big impact for a city, culturally and economically. On the other side, my short-term career interest is in Meeting Architecture. Knowing how to create/design a meeting/event that is meaningful rather than to just “arrange” it is the area I'm working on now.


Casey Carignan
Meetings and Events Coordinator, lia sophia Wood Dale, Ill., USA

What do you like most about your job?

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