Now in its fourth year, The Top 40 Women in MICE initiative recognises the important role women play in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions industry. This initiative plays a vital role in providing a platform that motivates, inspires, and supports women in the industry to achieve their personal and professional goals. It also connects women in the industry to leverage their reach and resources, creating a global community of economically empowered women.

“Who does not want to be valued? Being valued breeds satisfaction and ultimately, that breeds productivity. To work in an industry that is so misinterpreted and perceived to be all glitz and glamour all around, leaves one feeling as though they are conducting chores rather than a passion. This initiative allows for incredible recognition of women in the industry from all walks of life. It acknowledges that we all have a story to tell and that the ladder to the top is not the same size and shape for us all, but they all reach the top eventually. What a way to create productivity and fulfilment in the industry.” says Thami Motlhabane, Senior Account Director at The Unusuals.

On the final day of Meetings Africa 2017, the 2017 Top 40 Women in MICE was launched during a breakfast at Sandton Convention Centre

Attendance was by invitation only, but the room was packed to capacity and everyone in attendance had positive feedback about the launch and the event as a whole.

The launch also marked the announcement of the Women in MICE Mentorship Programme. Apart from a lovely breakfast, DeeVah and Danny K entertained attendees with a morning of music.

“Wow! That’s all I can say. Danny K’s life story was so inspiring and true in every sense. Someone’s opinion is merely that. Just an opinion and we need to learn to not accept defeat and push through. I’ve always believed that ‘success is when preparation and opportunity meets'” says Angelique van der Merwe, Marketing Manager at De Hoek Country Hotel

Celeste Whitaker, Owner of Fizz Marketing also had great praise for the event, “The event was amazing – Deevah was brilliant and Danny K was brilliant – I will definitely recommend both these artists to clients.” 

Thami, although putting in a great deal of effort herself, also praised the brand and organisers – “I’m an avid fan of the brand and cannot be asked to see bad in events associated with it. This time around it was spectacular, a touch of class, suspense, fun, motivation all rolled into one breakfast session. I wouldn’t have spent breakfast with a bunch of industry sisters any other way. A huge well done Mr Hiller.”


To date, 125 phenomenal women have been recognised for their achievements. Over and above the Top 40, rising stars, newsmakers and lifetime achievers have been awarded.

Based on reader nominations, the women who make the list are judged on, but not limited, to:

  • their ability to motivate those around her
  • the influence she has over her peers and clients
  • the amount of money she generates for her company
  • the passion she has for the industry


In order to grow our industry, it is important that the women who make the list are advocates for an exciting new generation of industry talent. Those of us that have the skills, knowledge and confidence, should be helping develop these skills within the up and coming. It is our duty. The Women in MICE mentorship programme will help with this.

Denzel Washington once said: “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” 

Martin Hiller, editor of Meetings magazine, The Meetings & Events Planner and founder of Women in MICE, had this to say: “I am very passionate about the youth and one of the most important things we can do for them, is to empower them. There are so many competent, talented and able young people who need the right guidance. I am sure, like me, all of us here today learned a lot from mentors who were instrumental in shaping who we have become. I want to share what I’ve learned and I am asking you to join me.”

“The industry has people who have already learnt the ropes and why allow up and coming people to make the same mistakes when they can learn from yours?  These days criticism is free and honest feedback is scarce, what an opportunity to have consistent support from someone with similar interests. I certainly appreciate the mentors that got me to here and continue to endorse, validate and listen to me without judgement, but rather with the intention of steering me the correct way.  The mentorship programme importance is just that, it’s a handful of women who support each other’s goals whilst acquiring skills and knowledge amongst each other through guidance” says Thami when asked about why this programme is so important in the industry.

Natalie Kensley, Research, Marketing and Sales Manager at The Conference Company had a similar opinion, “I have had some wonderful mentors in my career and I still have them to bounce situations, challenges and matters off. I think a mentor is needed as a helping hand along the road, providing guidance, insight and perspective to our normal way of thinking.”

Mentorship is powerful and incredibly useful in anyone’s career. Being a mentor is about giving back to the industry; it is a fundamental form of human development where one person invests time, energy, and personal know-how assisting in the growth and ability of another person.

With this in mind, the objective of the Women in MICE mentorship programme is to provide the protégé with:

  • career support by encouraging, challenging and growing the individual
  • emotional support through encouragement, recognition, feedback and coaching
  • support for short term and long term planning
  • access to learning opportunities, resources and networking

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.

Martin also proudly announced the first five Women in MICE mentors for 2017

  • DorcasDlamini – Group Sales Director for Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • Natalie Kensley – Research, Marketing and Sales Manager for Conference Company
  • Nonnie Kubeka – head of Gauteng Convention Bureau
  • ThamiMothabane – Senior Account Director for the unusuals
  • Fatima Omar, owner of Divaz Event Management

Palesa Boka and Ashleigh Crowley were also recognised for being accepted into the mentorship programme.

If you would like to become a mentor or know of someone who would benefit from the programme, please email Martin at and write a short motivation why you or someone else should be considered for the programme.

As for the Top 40 Women in MICE of 2017, nominations are officially open and you are welcome to submit your nomination here.

In conclusion to his motivational opening speech, Martin left the group with these wise words from Whoopi Goldberg, “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” 

Women in MICE, Meetings magazine and The Meetings & Events Planner would like to thank the following people for their contribution, attendance and assistance at the Women in MICE Breakfast:

  • Avianto for sponsoring a Sunday lunch for four people to one lucky draw winner.
  • Century City Conference Centre & Hotel for sponsoring accommodation at their hotel for one lucky draw winner.
  • Danny K for sharing his moving story with the group and also for getting everyone out of their seats and in absolute awe.
  • De Hoek for sponsoring the beautiful and scrumptious table gifts as well as an overnight stay in their Penthouse Suite (dinner, breakfast and a picnic included) to one lucky draw winner.
  • DeeVah for her wonderful performance and blessing us with her sparkling personality.
  • Monte De Dios for sponsoring 2 vouchers for dinner, bed and breakfast at their hotel to one lucky draw winner and as a thank you gift to our wonderful MC.
  • Protea Hotels for sponsoring a 2-night stay at one of their prestigious hotels to one lucky draw winner.
  • Rand Club for hosting the official awards ceremony in August 2017.
  • Rustic Kitchen for the gift bags. We had countless enquiries afterwards about whether we had any more left to give out.
  • SANCB for the collaboration with Meetings Africa 2017 and all the organising that went with that.
  • Sandton Convention Centre for sponsoring a gift bag with a bluetooth speaker and bluetooth earphones to one lucky draw winner.
  • Scan Display for sponsoring an Exclusive Books gift voucher to one lucky draw winner.
  • Thami Motlhabane for not only getting out of bed while she was sick with the flu, but still keeping us entertained as the MC. If it wasn’t for this revelation, no-one would even have suspected that you felt horrible on the day.
  • Tsogo Sun for sponsoring a mid-week break (two nights’ stay for two people) at Gold Reef City.
  • Unlimited Events for the beautiful décor and smooth setup and strike. Not a detail was missed and they literally thought of everything.
  • USB for the arranging Danny K.

Most importantly, we would like to thank the women who have made this industry what it is today. Their passion, hard work and dedication is appreciated by all and none of this would be possible without you.

For anyone and everyone who wasn’t mentioned by name, don’t feel left out, there were so many helping hands, it’s hard to keep track of everyone involved, but we truly do appreciate your contribution, your attendance and everything else.