#BalanceforBetter This International Women’s Day

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International Women's DayThe theme of this year’s International Women’s Day reminds us that gender balance is not only a women’s issue, but an economic issue as well.

Few industries reflect this better than MICE, a nearly trillion-dollar sector of tourism and hospitality with a 70 percent female event planner workforce at its epicenter. In celebration of International Women’s Day, WestJet flights 2250 and 2251 took to the skies with all-female flight and ground crews. Approximately 56 percent of the airline’s workforce and seven percent of its pilot workforce are female—up three percent from the national average and a clear competitive advantage if you ask Mark Porter, executive VP of people and culture. “The strength of female talent represented across all departments at WestJet is a great competitive advantage to our business and talent strategy.”

“The strength of female talent represented across all departments at WestJet is a great competitive advantage to our business and talent strategy.”

The International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) bestowed their annual Celebrating Her Awards, a program initiated by men, that is supported by ITB Berlin. And Berlin joined Russia, Cuba and countries in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa this year in acknowledging International Women’s Day as a public holiday. Lyft, a popular rideshare go-to for convention goers, gave riders $10 off of a ride that went to or from places that honor women’s contributions to US history—the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington DC to the Harriet Tubman Memorial in New York.

Global DMC Partners and Visit Anaheim took a more direct approach, meanwhile, in recognizing women who are driving social change through inspired leadership, advocacy and unabashed work-life balance, or #BalanceforBetter. Here are some of their honorees.

Karen Watson, Senior Director Strategic Events, Experient/Maritz Global Events

“As the chief meeting planner for e4, Karen worked closely with the Anaheim community to produce a thought-provoking experience for all participants.  She goes beyond looking for ‘what’s next’ by thoughtfully implementing new ideas, while keeping her team focused and aligned with the organization’s goals.  She has a heart for service, ensuring that the events she produces give back; at e4 she incorporated The Shop Forward and International Sanctuary, which are both locally based and support charitable endeavors worldwide.  She is one of the most thoughtful professionals I have worked with, and the results of her efforts are incredible events that are tops in the industry.”—Jessica Barganski, CTA, Manager Strategic & Alliance Events, Visit Anaheim

Danene Dustin, Global Sales Executive, Morris Meetings & Incentives

(Courtesy of Global DMC Partners)

“Danene Dustin finds herself living the dream, which allows her to not only travel the globe but also to help others embrace and enjoy the world to the fullest. Her global sales executive role at the Utah-based Morris Meetings & Incentives gives her the unique opportunity to partner with organizations in the design and management industry, while delivering memorable, exotic group travel experiences.

Dustin believes that women bring their creativity, excellent organizational skills and ability to multi-task successfully to the industry.

She would like to see women working together more cohesively and supporting, mentoring and developing ways to genuinely be happy for each other’s successes, whether professional or personal.

Balance for Bettercomes down to each one prioritizing and fitting things in that really mean the most,’ says Dustin.”

Judy Payne, CMP, Director of Meetings & Travel, GameStop

“Judy is a super hard-working mom of two very busy and active kiddos. She’s got the coolest gig in the game and she’s an engaged and supportive leader to her meetings team of four at GameStop. She’s a huge advocate in promoting learning, and always makes time to meet face to face and network! Judy is always present and active in professional organizations like PCMA & MPI! We appreciate the time she invests in participating on our customer advisory board and her support of Anaheim goals.”—Loretta Gon, CMP, CTA, Convention Sales Director, Central Region, Visit Anaheim

Brie Richards, Event Planner, Gartner

(Courtesy of Global DMC Partners)

“Brie Richards has been exposed to the event planning industry from a very young age. Her mother planned all the community events and retreats for her church back in Amarillo, Texas, and would often bring her onsite, causing her to fall in love with the excitement of the hustle-and-bustle of the event world.

Her mother not only taught her to work hard but also to learn the importance of the relational side of every task. This she attributed to helping her create strong work relationships with other women and establish a mindset of teamwork versus competition when working with others.

Richards believes women bring a sense of drive and determination to the industry. ‘I love getting to see women step up in leadership roles and am inspired by their drive to make others around them better,’ she said.

She believes that we are complex beings who need to strive to maintain a ‘Balance for Better’ physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual selves. ‘Each of these pieces plays an important role in making up who we are, and when one of them gets overworked, it hinders us from being the best that we can be. In my life, I have found that when I allow myself to focus on keeping each of elements of wellness in check, I am best able to experience life at its fullest.'”

Lynette Donahue, Director, Event Management, Event Travel Management

(Courtesy of Global DMC Partners)

“Lynette Donahue has always been drawn to planning events through various roles in the corporate world. In the beginning of her career, this role was introduced to her as one of many ‘duties’ she was tasked with carrying out. However, as Donahue developed as a professional, she was able to move into positions that involved more and more work related specifically to event planning. Eventually, she worked hard enough to earn the role of Corporate Events Manager, which quickly became the career of her dreams.

Donahue sees that women’s natural tendencies at multi-tasking and mentoring are huge benefits for the meetings industry.“How often have we seen cartoons depicting women being able to juggle countless items up in the air at one time? This same distinct multi-tasking characteristic in women is immensely valuable and necessary in this industry.  At any given minute we can have seven things we are currently doing, while thinking forward about 26 more.’

According to Donahue, ‘Balance for Better’ is a strong statement, which conveys complete gender and life balance. ‘All of us have so much to contribute regardless of gender, and everyone who wants the industry to grow and succeed should be both heard and asked to be involved. No one will do this for us, we must do it for each other,’ she added. ‘We need to support each other in the industry, mentor each other, grab a buddy, a sounding board, anything that keeps you strong and determined. We need to check in with each other and ground ourselves in our priorities. If that type of energy can build on itself and gain momentum, it will bring our ‘Balance for Better’ mission to life.'”

Anita Carlyle, Managing Partner, Moore Carlyle Consulting & MCC Destination Management

(Courtesy of Global DMC Partners)

“Anita Carlyle has had a love for travel ever since she can remember.  She was fascinated by glamorous hotels from a young age, which guided her to completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree in Hospitality and Tourism. Through school assignments, summer internships, and early work experience, she gained experience in all types of tourism jobs from busing tables, waitressing and bartending in restaurants, acting as a cruise director on a private event yacht, managing hospitality events for the Toronto Blue Jays to working for hotels in almost every position, including a long tenure with Hilton. She draws upon her diverse knowledge to now manage a Toronto-based DMC, a perfect blend of all things hospitality.

With regards to ‘Balance for Better,’ Anita says, ‘Understand that work is only a piece on the pie chart of life, and we must always be mindful that each piece should be of equal size!'”

Sheri Moore, Partner, Creative Director, Moore Carlyle Consulting & MCC Destination Management

(Courtesy of Global DMC Partners)

“Sheri Moore stumbled upon the industry coming from a marketing and PR background. She was immediately hooked by the ability to build an event from concept to execution, to tell stories and to share amazing experiences. Sheri credits much of her success to being surrounded by talented, dedicated female leaders in the industry and many trailblazers in other industries. What they had in common was their desire to share their experience and to provide support and guidance at every opportunity.

‘Women in every industry have many roles to juggle. This industry in particular is tough because many events invade non-traditional working hours and can be draining during high season,’ said Moore. ‘Thinking of balance as scales of equal weight can add more pressure and stress to an already stressful career. Instead, I try to think about being better to ourselves and others by integrating what we love at work and what we love in life over time. Sometimes one has more weight or has to take a step forward, but, in the long term through an integrated approach, balance is achieved as long as joy, growth and gratification can be found throughout. This has to include carving out time for ourselves doing the pleasures, whatever that is, that feed our souls and replenish our energy.'”

Cheryl Payne, CMM, Innovation Partner at INNOV8 Meetings + Events

“Cheryl is the epitome of a true meeting professional. She is a co-owner of her own meeting planning company, she’s an MPI International Orange County Chapter Past President, has received several awards and accolades as well as served in several capacities on advisory boards and task forces within our industry, all while being a wife and mother to two little girls! She also speaks at industry events too! I’m in awe of all that she has accomplished thus far in her career and think so highly of her!”—Mariles Krok, CMP, CMM, CTA, Senior Director, Meeting Sales, Visit Anaheim

Did we miss anyone? Nominate a colleague in the comments below!

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