Meetings magazine and The Planner celebrates the women who have made their mark on the MICE industry. Everyday this week we will be highlighting ten of the wonderful women who made the Top 40 Women in MICE list.

Join the conversation on Twitter #40WIM




ICCA president and owner of The Conference Company
Service provider/event planner

Since founding The Conference Company as a one-woman operation in 1997, Nina has become an integral member and driving force of the Southern African conferencing industry. The thriving business, now based in Durban, Joburg, and Cape Town, provides association secretariat management and conference management services to the South African and international association markets. Nina has also simultaneously taken on significant roles in top industry bodies. Her engaging personality and strategic input have made her a sought-after service provider and colleague throughout the conferencing industry, and within the International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA).

Nina is the first ICCA president from Africa, and the third female president in ICCA history. She is also one of the Top 40 Women in MICE, in 2014.

Executive director of Gauteng Convention Bureau
Service provider

Under the direction and leadership of Nonnie, the Gauteng Convention Bureau markets, promotes, fosters, and develops business vents in the province. Within her scope of work, she developed a business events strategy for the province and initiatives therein, and she implements bidding, hosting, and marketing activities nationally and internationally, with a view to attract business travellers and tourists to the province. Additionally, she has developed strategic partnerships with suppliers such as venues, airlines, associations, educational institutions, professional conference organisers, tour operators, and event and exhibition planners in South Africa and other countries, as well as support establishments and events that help put Gauteng on the map.

Nonnie has 18 years of experience in marketing and has served as senior marketing and sales manager at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and senior manager of strategic marketing for Standard Bank and Transnet.

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Logistics manager at Scan Display
Service provider

In the 10 years that Pumza has been with Scan Display, she has grown from strength to strength. She started out with the company as an intern and worked her way up to logistics manager. As the logistics manager, she has one of the toughest jobs in the company, because so many people rely on her for deliveries and collections. Pumza is required to deal with internal employees and external clients, a juggling act that can, at times, be very challenging. However, she has a serenity about her, which ensures that she is able to deliver, even under extreme pressure. Pumza is seen as a pillar of strength by her colleagues and no task is too big her. She is always willing to jump in and provide support to the team, which often extends beyond her logistics duties.

Pumza plays an important role in Scan Display’s Enterprise Development Programme, providing job opportunities, training, and support to small operators who assist with Scan Display’s logistics function.

Chief operating officer for Event Dynamics
Event planner

Sabine has brought an entrepreneurial spirit and style to Event Dynamics. She has created a leadership platform that allows for creativity, new thinking, exploration of new markets, and a focus on growth. Sabine always listens to new ideas and encourages people to challenge their way of thinking in the business. She is a woman of integrity whose passion is very much focused on three things: her work, her staff, and her community.

Always willing to go the extra mile, Sabine leads by example and is never afraid to get her hands dirty. She once spent hours counting out R200 000 worth of sponsored delegate’s daily subsistence allowances and even spent a night in a Brazilian airport jail cell, taking care of a delegate who had travelled on a diplomatic passport with no visa.

Owner of Diamond Events
Event planner

Samantha is a hardworking, determined woman who constantly drives perfection in all she does, to ensure that her clients’ events are the best they can be. Due to her great leadership skills, she has pioneered an event company from one client to many by constantly moving forward, working harder, and leading with the times. She is driven by innovation, as is her team, who are always thinking outside the box and putting their creative talents to the test. Samantha excels at nurturing and maintaining relationships within the industry. The future is bright for Samantha and her team, as she strives towards becoming the market leader in the events industry.

Samantha holds diplomas in somatology, sports therapy, reflexology, aromatherapy, as well as finance. She is also a qualified PADI master scuba diver trainer and an emergency first response instructor.

sophia karrasSOPHIA KARRAS
Currently freelancing
Event planner

Having been involved in the industry for over 18 years, Sophia is considered a veteran by her colleagues and clients. Through the years, she has gained well-rounded knowledge of the industry, which has allowed her to interact and understand its constant changing trends. While at Flight Centre’s MICE division, she took her business acumen and marketing strategies to a whole new level. She was promoted to team leader, and then general manager, for Flight Centre’s new brand cievents. After four years with the group, Sophia has left as she is looking for new challenges. Regardless of deadlines or other pressure, she always delivers. Sophia’s creativity shines through in everything she does.

During the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Sophia managed the VISA account. She dealt with around 4500 fans daily, and managed 210 students, while running the hospitality desk, tours, and promotions, as well as organising four big events.

Sue Gannon picSUE GANNON
General manager at EXSA
Service provider

Sue started her career in exhibitions, in 1975, with De Beers’ Diamond Promotion Service and the Jewellex Exhibitions, as they held mini-expos all over the country. She then ran the SA Antique Dealers Association for over 10 years, as well as organising their annual exhibitions in Cape Town, Joburg, and Durban. In 1993, Sue joined the consumer exhibition Decorex SA, where she ultimately headed up their portfolio of three annual shows. Over the years, she has been a part of SA Fashion Week, Good Food & Wine Show, Wedding Expo, Rooms on View, Cape a la Carte, and many of the Topco awards evenings. With such shows under her belt, it is no surprise that Sue is an established name is the Southern Africa exhibition industry. This is the reason why she joined EXSA as general manager and, since then, she has raised the profile of the organisation.

Sue has also been involved in publishing and owned the elite bridal magazine Femme Bride.

National conferencing and events manager at Travel with Flair (TWF)
Event planner

This goal-driven woman exudes passion not only for her job, but for people as well. This is why Thami is making a name for herself in the industry. Since she arrived at TWF, she has acquired numerous new accounts for the company and is continually coming up with new ideas on how to service clients and retain them. Her staff describes her as creative, knowing what she wants and what she stands for, as well the small package in which dynamite comes. Thami has taught her staff to work as a team, to respect each other’s roles, and to trust one another. This is why her team calls her Sister Boss.

Thami has mastered the art of motivation. Not only does she motivate her staff to excel at work, but also in their personal lives. Her positive influence has resulted in four people at applying for degrees.

Director at Hiside Events
Event planner

The success of Hiside Events can be attributed to Trudi’s approach to having fun and her passion for people. She has created the ideal working environment for her staff, who take full responsibility for any event they are organising. This has resulted in a team of 10 consultants who plan and run medium to large events without her needing to micromanage. She has created methodologies for planning and running events which has allowed junior consultants to become senior very quickly. Trudi’s colleagues are impressed with her ability to pull rabbits out of her hat. When they think a concept is 100% thought through, Trudi will arrive with one more idea that just seals the deal.

Trudi is known for her ‘Trudi-isms’ – statements or words that don’t belong to any formal written or approved language yet everyone understands what she is saying.

CEO of Pure Grit Project and Exhibitions Management
Event and exhibition planner

Zaida is the pinnacle of leadership, not only to her family and team but also to a number of her peers. She has the ability to inspire, motivate, and empower people from all walks of life and has continuously touched the lives of many who have had the privilege of working with her. To date, Zaida has successfully managed to cultivate meaningful relationships with each of her employees while imparting upon each a great work ethic. She is impassioned about every project she undertakes, making sure that every client has the best experience possible. Zaida has built Pure Grit on the principles of integrity, empowerment, passion, artistry, and innovation. She constantly strives to innovate on all the services she offers with the aim to become a future market leader.

Zadia started her career as a junior legal adviser at Nedcor.

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