Event industry triumphs are celebrated at the IMEX Frankfurt  Gala Dinner Awards


In a fast-paced, busy industry, taking time out to recognize and celebrate achievements is rare but important. Professionals from across the global business events industry took advantage of this opportunity at last night’s IMEX Frankfurt Gala Dinner Awards.

The Awards, held at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel, brought together meeting and event executives in a glittering gathering to honor the achievements, innovation and passion of individuals within the industry. 

The awards roll call:   
Destinations International – Global Ambassador Award  
International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) – International Excellence Award   
American Society of Association Executives – Global Association Visionary Award
International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) Driving Excellence – Innovation Award 
International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) – Global Influencer Award 
Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) – Unity Award   
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – Foundation Student Scholarship Award  
Jane E. Schuldt Society for Incentive Travel Executives (SITE) – Master Motivator Award  
IMEX Events Industry Council (EIC) – Innovation in Sustainability Award  
Paul Flackett – IMEX Academy Awards  

Destinations International President and CEO Don Welsh was welcomed on stage to present the Global Ambassador Award to Paul Kelly CEO of Fáilte Ireland in recognition of his dedication to sustainable, inclusive destination development.  Paul’s leadership has led Fáilte Ireland to be listed as one of the top 20 best large organizations to work. He was named Ireland’s Most Trusted Leader by Great Places to Work and is also chair of The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI).

Each year, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE) presents its International Excellence Award to a member who has made exceptional strides in advancing IAEE’s programs and presence on an international level. This year’s award recognizes the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Exposition/CCPIT Chengdu Sub-Council for its work with IAEE’s Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) Learning Program in China, which has produced more than 1,600 CEMs to date. IAEE and CCPIT have enjoyed a highly collaborative relationship at the annual China Economic Forum for International Cooperation (CEFCO) for more than 20 years.

A new award for this year, the American Society of Association Executives – Global Association Visionary Award, was presented by President and CEO Michelle Mason to Susan Sarfati. Susan is CEO of High Performance Strategies, a consulting and speaking firm focusing on growing leaders and organizations. She’s a trailblazer who’s highly regarded for her visionary service that includes leadership positions at GWSAE and ASAE, launching the Center for Association Leadership, and creating the first global summit on social responsibility for associations.

IAPCO’s Driving Excellence – Innovation Award celebrates those at the forefront of innovation and Claire Smyth, Sales and Marketing Director at Conference Partners International, was a fitting winner. The award was given in honor of Claire’s use of street murals and artwork to empower delegates at One Young World, Belfast, to create a legacy that extends beyond the economic impact of the conference.

Marie Hunter, Manager Director, Conferences, Events & Experiences at The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) was the delighted recipient of the ICCA Global Influencer Award, presented by ICCA President, Marta Gomes. As global events leader at IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, Marie oversees a business generating more than 2,000 technical conferences and thought leadership events around the world. Other major international events she’s worked on include multiple Olympic Games, the Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), US Open Tennis, and World Cup Soccer.

JMIC President, James Rees presided over the JMIC Unity Award – the recipient is chosen by Council members in recognition of leadership roles in major industry organizations and significant contributions to industry advancement and professional development initiatives. He presented the award to Peter King, Inaugural Chair of the Australian Business Events Association. Peter has been a key player in the formation of the Association, a unifying body that represents the sector with a single voice that advocates to government and drives awareness and business events industry development.
Next, the awards looked ahead to the event professionals of the future: Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College in South Africa received the MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award. This award, presented by Kevin Kirby, Executive Director of the MPI Foundation, celebrates and supports the next generation of meeting planners as part of the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge.

One of our industry’s most valued skills is the ability to motivate, and it was the duty of SITE CEO Annette Gregg to hand over the Jane E. Schuldt SITE Master Motivator Award to Padraic Gilligan, Chief Marketing Officer at SITE. Padraic, a seasoned authority on the world of incentives, has served as SITE Chief Marketing Officer for seven years via his agency SoolNua. He’s the mastermind behind SITE’s signature research project with the IRF, the Incentive Travel Index, which is regarded as the definitive global data source for the sector.

The IMEX EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award shines a light on sustainability success achieved through a deliberate focus on innovation and creative thinking. TED Conferences won this year’s hotly contested award, presented by EIC’s CEO Amy Calvert. The TED Countdown Summit, held in Detroit last year, brought together nearly 800 business executives, scientists, policymakers and next generation leaders to address the climate crisis. The event was praised by judges for its truly innovative approach, embedding legacy aims and ambitious sustainability goals.

The Paul Flackett IMEX Academy Awards, named in tribute to the former IMEX Managing Director, finished the ceremony in style. Three outstanding individuals were recognized for their long-term commitment to the industry and for pushing boundaries around innovation.  
The 2024 roster of winners is:  
Frank Murangwa, Director of Destination Marketing, Rwanda Convention Bureau
Bonnie Carlson, President & CEO, Bloomington MN, Convention and Visitors Bureau
Christoph Tessmar, Director, Barcelona Turisme

Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO, said: “As our industry evolves, so do we – with new skills, fresh thinking and innovative ways of working. This is evident in all of our award winners who demonstrate the sheer breadth of talent and professionalism that our industry is renowned for. A huge congratulations to everyone championed at last night’s Gala Dinner and what a way to launch into the fourth and final day of IMEX Frankfurt.” 
 The Gala Dinner was sponsored by Cvent. IMEX Frankfurt concluded today, May 16, at Messe Frankfurt.


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