Sandy Biback, one of this year’s inductees into the prestigious EIC Hall of Leaders, talks about her work to move the meetings industry to the forefront of the anti-human-trafficking movement.
Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, Founder of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking, will be inducted into the Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders (EIC HOL) during the Global Awards Celebration at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas Oct. 10, held in conjunction with IMEX America 2022. The awards honor and celebrate meeting industry professionals who have demonstrated leadership and achieved extraordinary outcomes for the global events industry.
Prevue recently caught up with Biback between flights as she winged her way to Southeast Asia for a month-long personal trip. While she won’t be able to make it back to Vegas to celebrate her achievement in person at the EIC HOL gala this week, she was happy to share her thoughts on her induction to this prestigious group, and why the meetings industry is uniquely poised to combat human trafficking.
Prevue: How does it feel to be among such illustrious company as an inductee into the EIC Hall of Leaders?
Biback: Well, that’s hard to say because had [Founder and CEO of Planner Protect Inc.] Heather Reid not nominated me, I wouldn’t have thought about it. And for me, it’s being in the company of the Patti Shocks and Joan Eisenstodts [both previous HOL inductees] of the world.
I’m that grassroots person who had a kernel of an idea — planted when I first came to Cambodia in 2016. I’m really proud of what our group has accomplished — no money, no corporate backing, simply a passion that we could do something to help stem the tide of human trafficking and create awareness
I’d also like to add that when I first began developing MPAHT, I had no idea what it would become — an entity in and of itself. We just went along and now we have fabulous volunteers and a worldwide network. I’d like to give a special shout out to Robert Thompson of AVCanada — while he has been on our board from the beginning, he and his team took control of all our technical requirements as a sponsorship. Especially during COVID, we could not have done what we did without his expertise and sponsorship.
I’ve learned so much from our board, which today consists of Gale Gingrich, now retired, of The Gingrich Group; Janet Victor, Eventives; Lizzy Low, Ottawa Tourism; and Harpreet Atwal, Event Manager, AlayaCare. And of course my husband Stephen who has backed my every move with MPAHT.
When I first began, I was going to “save the world from human trafficking.” As I learned more, I realized that every little bit we do creates awareness and in some way helps — but sadly we will not stop human slavery in my lifetime. In fact, it is growing.
Prevue: Which of your many accomplishments are you most proud of?
Biback: As a result of our grassroots work, many planners now ask about what a venue/supplier is doing to help prevent human trafficking, and many venues/suppliers now have statements on what they are doing. When I first started this campaign, most venues sort of kinda knew this might be happening and wanted to keep it under wraps. Planners (predominately in Canada and the U.S.) really, I believe, didn’t think it could be happening in “their backyard.” Along with other groups, we’ve changed that.
Prevue: What has inspired you over the course of your career to always push harder and reach higher to accomplish your goals?
Biback: Put it down to persistence and stubbornness! I don’t know that I’ve always written goals down — I kind of zigged and zagged my entire career. I always believed in volunteering. I always believed in always learning. And often when I get a desire to do something, I find a way.
Prevue: Who has inspired you to continue to grow and evolve in this profession? What are some of the top lessons you learned from them?
Biback: This is an unfair question — there have been so many over the years, too many to mention here. I learn from everyone. [Hospitality and meetings industry consultant and trainer] Joan Eisenstodt, who taught me to always ask questions and inspires with her empathy for the ills of our world; Harpreet Atwal, a graduate student of mine who is a shining example of the future of our industry — she has a great handle on social media and continually pushes me. Heather Reid, who nominated me — what she has accomplished in her personal and professional life leads me to do more. But there are so many others, so many others.
My top lessons: Have pride in what we do. Know what you are worth, your value. And give back!
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