Meetings magazine and recognised and celebrated this year’s Top 40 Women in MICE at a glamorous luncheon on 17 August 2017. The women who make it onto this list are entrepreneurs, visionaries and mentors – they are a real force to be reckoned with. They know what it takes to have longevity in the challenging world of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).

Martin Hiller, Managing Editor of 3S Media’s Meetings and Event Planner, founded the Top 40 Women in MICE in 2014. He says, “The MICE industry is filled with phenomenal woman doing amazing things. When I was appointed editor of Meetings in 2013 I was lucky enough to meet a handful of these women. What struck me was that there was no platform for these women to be recognised for their achievements. I wanted to do something about that, and hence the Top 40 Women in MICE was launched. Now in its fourth year, 165 women have been recognised for their hard work, passion and dedication to the industry.”

The importance of acknowledging the abilities and success of these women cannot be understated, as there are still various barriers that prevent women from fully participating at the highest levels of business and government, and which need to be overcome. According to Janine Hicks from the Commission for Gender Equality, women in South Africa represent just 29% of executive managers, 22% of directors of companies, 9% of chairs of boards and a mere 2.4% of chief executives. And research by Grant Thornton shows that 39% of businesses in South Africa have no women in leadership positions.

It was a difficult task selecting the 40 finalists – 20 in the Event Planners category, and 20 in the Services category – from among the nominees. “For one to make this list, we consider everything from their ability to motivate those they work with and the influence they have over clients and peers, to the amount of money they generate or simply the passion they have for this industry,” adds Martin.

Considering how hardworking a person must be to earn this title, the day was all about pampering and thanking these brilliant finalists. A three course meal was served while the wine flowed and speeches were given in honour of the guests and their accomplishments. Saxophonist and singer duet Andy Klee performed, generous prizes were raffled, and a beaded purse was auctioned off for R2700. The proceeds raised will go to Jes Foord Foundation, a charity that supports rape survivors. Everyone also received a swag bag with some gorgeous goodies.

The Rand Club hosted the days’ festivities. It was a clever choice, considering it was once exclusively reserved for men but today is open to both sexes. It was inspiring to see an event full of stylish, powerful women taking over the space and filling the halls with their laughter, while formal portraits of famous male figures and past members looked on from the walls…

Over the course of the lunch, the 2017 Top 40 Women in MICE were called up one by one to receive the acknowledgement they deserve and a beautiful Zulu woman trophy. They are:

  • Abie Pantshwa (Fresh Corporation)
  • Alex Buckley (Into Africa)
  • Alexia Swart (Barmotion)
  • Amanda Cunningham (The Wedding Expo)
  • Anette Burden (Casa Toscona)
  • Angela Lorimer (Spier  Wine Farm)
  • Angelique Van der Merwe (De Hoek Country Hotel)
  • Boitumelo Pooe (Scan Display)
  • Bronwyn Hesketh (Speakers Inc)
  • Candice Christians (Invesco)
  • Cara Nortman (SSQ Exhibitions)
  • Carolyn Melnick (Scatterlings Conference & Events)
  • Celia du Preez (Hayward’s Grand Safari Company)
  • Chantal Koen (Tourvest IME)
  • Chardonnay Marchesi (Africa Travel Week)
  • Cheryl Norwood-Young (Where Next Event Management)
  • Clare Neall (Event Stuff/Event freelancer)
  • Danielle Henn (Conference Consultancy SA)
  • Edith Venter (Edith Unlimited)
  • Ellen Oosthuizen (Bebe’s Events & Promotions)
  • Esmaré Steinhöfel (ICCA)
  • Gugulethu Buthelezi (Tourvest IME)
  • Heather Beadle (Reynolds MICE)
  • Janine Baltensperger (Sandton Convention Centre)
  • Judy Goddard (Masiwela/Rand Club)
  • Katherine Gunningham (Compex)
  • Lerisha Mudaliar (Wesgro)
  • Lillian Hlabangane (Tshwane Convention and Tourism Bureau)
  • Lindiwe Rakharebe (Durban ICC)
  • Lindy Cambouris (Cape Town International Convention Centre)
  • Lisa Trenor (Conference Call)
  • Lynn McLeod (Event Greening Forum)
  • Melanie Pretorius (CSIR ICC)
  • Merryl Fairfoot (SANCB)
  • Sian Gutstadt (Decorex SA)
  • Theresa Wagner (Rennies Travel ~ Limex)
  • Veda Koekemoer (Electra Mining)
  • Yolandi  Michaels (TS&A Events and Living Masks)
  • Nellie Swart (UNISA)
  • Zandri Swartz (Century City Conference Centre & Hotel)
Additional notable achievement awards were also handed out, to the following women:

  • Rising Star: Event Planner – Natasha Heiberg (Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery)
  • Rising Star: Services – Nobesuthu Msimanga (Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Marriott Melrose Arch)
  • Newsmaker of The Year – Carol Weaving (Reed Exhibitions & AAXO Chairperson)
  • Hall of Fame – Julie-May Ellingson (Cape Town International Convention Centre)
  • Hall of Fame – Nina Freysen-Pretorius (The Conference Company & ICCA Chairperson)
  • Fiona Hack Inspiration Award – Jeanne Visagie (CELO | Events | Training | Consulting)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Chris Prieto (Chris Prieto Event Management & Consultancy)
Meetings would like to congratulate all of these women for their success, and for being a source of inspiration to others.

You can subscribe to to be notified when entries open for next year’s Top 40 Women in MICE.

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