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A lot can change very quickly in events. And you don’t have to be even close to being a veteran to understand that. Anyone working in the sector pre-pandemic who is still part of the industry now will understand the scale and pace of its development and evolution.
And if you don’t, maybe check out this recent case study on our client KTX, who changed its entire business model last year to work through the pandemic. Just one example of the seismic shifts that took place — from holographic festivals to drive-in cinemas — as our study from earlier this year shows.
Digressions aside, one aspect of events that has been improving in recent years is the gender imbalance. It’s true that, as of 2018 at least, just 6% of event executives in the FTSE 100 were women. This reveals that there is huge work to do before we could say anything close to gender equality in positions of power. However, lower down the pay scale is a trend among event management companies employing 40% more women between 2015 and 2018 than they did before. Now, almost 50% of the workforce is now female.
Nevertheless, survey results from MPI during the same period show a huge disparity in earnings. The leading US association for “people who bring people together” — i.e. event experts — found that at the Coordinator/Specialist/Assistant level, women earn 4% less than men. 12 months earlier, the difference was 11% — now the gap in managerial-level pay. Meanwhile, for those who are in a Director role or higher, the wage gap can climb to as high as 50%, in favour of men.
None of this sits well with the award-winning team here at Eventcube, for at least two reasons. Firstly, there should be absolutely no difference in pay based on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, physical disabilities, or any criteria other than the one thing that matters — performance. And, secondly, the pay gap discounts the exceptionally talented, innovative, visionary female event professionals that we know, find inspiration from, and relish the prospect of realising projects with.
Taking that into account, we thought it would be a good idea to shine some light on a few of those faces. Well, 10 of the most influential women in the events industry, as of 2023. Before you dive into the rundown, though, give us a second to explain how this works. Most importantly, there are no rankings here — everyone appears in alphabetical order based on their first name. And we also want to make it clear this was a difficult list to compile because there are so many worthy contenders. As such don’t forget to check the Notable Mentions section at the end for more female powerhouses from the sector, and communities that can help event pros at all experience levels.
Eventcube's top 10 women in events of 2023 are:
Note: the names below are listed in alphabetical order
Naif Productions is a New York-based full-service events agency, and Annette Naif is the founding expert. Drawing on more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the events and wedding sector, not to mention motion picture, television and corporate, her ethos is deceptively simple.
Create genuine talking points through bespoke, unforgettable experiences that build lasting relationships. Suffice to say, the formula works.
Digital Marketing Executive at DRPG, Caitlin Kobrak has forgotten more about planning events than most of us will ever know. Thankfully, there’s her award-winning writing to fall back on, more particularly, her highly celebrated blog Eventmarketingstudent.
Her resume also includes Event First Steps, a non-profit focused on encouraging industry newcomers to forge their own paths in events. That speaks volumes about her dedication to bringing fresh talent through.
It has been 20 years since Strategic Meetings and Events was established in New York City; a specialist events planning agency. In that time the company and its CEO, Christy Lamagna, have more than cemented reputations among the most innovative forces in the sector.
The boss woman authored ‘The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals’, which is a go-to manual for those looking to leave a positive footprint in the industry. Leading from the front with a focus on delivering experiences, Christy has found great success in turning events into powerful drivers of business growth. Now, she's sharing it with the world.
Let’s face it, working in the events sector can be amazing, but also remarkably challenging, with long hours and high expectations leading to plenty of late nights in the office.
Helen Moon makes our list because not only does she understand the struggle, she actively advocates for better mental health among event professionals. Through EventWell UK, a charitable social enterprise that she founded in 2017, she delivers training and workplace well-being programmes that promote empathy, self-care, and a supportive culture for event professionals.
We’re not the only ones ranking Kate Bullard among the top event personnel on the planet! C&IT’s coveted Corporate A-List for 2021 which spotlights the best in-house event planners, also featured her.
With well over a decade of corporate and B2B triumphs to boast, from forums and galas to sponsorship activation and client entertainment, this London-based events expert is a voice of authority in the industry. Bullard also co-founded Eventprofslive, an industry-recognised network for corporate event pros, with a leaning towards venue knowledge and stakeholder relationships.
True to her tagline, Toronto’s Keneisha Williams inspires change in the events industry not only though her expertise in boosting brand visibility, but also her advocacy for community-building. Great events are one thing, but it doesn't stop there. Williams also lays claim to the guidebook, ‘Event Tech Integration Made Simple’.
Most significantly, though, and a key reason for her being on our top list, is the part she played in founding the Black In Events Network. The network aims to create awareness and opportunities for, and empower Black events professionals worldwide.
Power by name, Jeannie is renowned for pushing event boundaries and creating ground breaking, efficient online experiences through her masterful use of technology.
The Power Event Group began trading in 2015, and has garnered an impeccable reputation for presenting clients with a range of solutions, shortcuts and spectacular ideas through a range of gadgets and gizmos. Vital even before the pandemic, it's safe to say that these services have proven more useful now that events have moved online.
Whether it’s her six month #EventBoss Mastermind programme, which she designed to elevate established event experts to greater heights, or appearances as guest and keynote speaker at other events, it doesn’t take long to realise that Juliet Tripp has been there and done that in terms of delivering exceptional event services.
Apart from being in the business of helping others advance their careers and build personal brands, she has a blog and a newsletter in the works!
“The more complicated the event seems, the more useful I will be to you,” Tahira Endean promises on her LinkedIn profile after declaring her first specialism to be “wrestling alligators”. Given what we already know about pulling off successful events the leave lasting impact and converts new business, the analogy is more than appropriate.
Currently Head of Events at Vancouver-based SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, Endean has an impeccable track record delivering people-centric events in unforgettable locations across the world.
While many event professionals place the emphasis on concept and spectacle, Samme Allen is more concerned with the real substance of meetings — interactions between hosts, guests, and attendees. And by that, we mean conversations.
Not only an expert in designing get togethers, she is also regularly drafted as a virtual emcee and moderator, with a heavy leaning toward workshops, training days and similar pro-tickets. As you would imagine from that intro, she’s a pioneer when it comes to hybrid and digital-only.
Try as we might, it was impossible to leave this list at ten. So, here are a few other faces pushing the events industry forward.
Amanda Thurlow — An expert at sharp conferences, strategist, and seminar organiser, Amanda Thurlow is known for her innovative ideas and passion for social causes and sustainability.
Christine Doyle — Founder of Meeting Planning for You, Christine Doyle is a go-to source for those looking to improve their understanding of corporate events from a well-travelled pro.
So that's a wrap! It wasn't easy choosing just ten as the event industry abounds with incredible women. We recognise that there's much to do in terms of opportunities but here's to continuously striving to narrow the gap and empowering more women to take the centerstage.
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