Since 1999 Ralph Knoblauch has worked for American Express Meetings & Events as Market Head for Germany, Switzerland and Poland. In this position he has created and developed the Meetings & Events business segment by focusing on sustainable growth, customer experience and innovation. Ralph has a deep understanding and experience of customer needs and requirements around meetings and events in his region. He also has an understanding of future needs and developments within the industry enabling him to provide valuable insights to customers. Ralph A. Knoblauch started his career as a Project Manager and Team Leader at FCI First & Thomas Cook Incentives & Conventions with 25 years’ experience in the event industry.
Mark Scales has been with Banks Sadler just over two years and is responsible for overseeing all proposals, tenders and event design within the agency. His particular focus has always been around translating the client’s event objectives into meaningful event experiences that drive bottom line results – whether that is a global venue sourcing framework or a fully immersive brand experience. With over 20 years’ experience in the event industry, Mark has worked with a number of the large agencies and developed a wide breadth of knowledge across all event management, production, content development and event technology disciplines.
Janne Björge is a founder of Nine Yards –The Brand Experience Agency with +55 communication specialists in Stockholm, Oslo, Gothenburg and a turnover of 150 million € since the start. A true entrepreneur with a large portion of problem solving, always looking for possibility’s and are spreading the smile around the world. On stage 60 days a year, in university’s and corporate events, always talking about the potential, the people and the change. One of Sweden’s most experienced speaker, and it’s not theory. It’s for real. Before Nine Yards, Janne was responsible for the sales, relation and marketing at Salomon Sports and then as Country Sales manager at Vagabond Shoes. Both sides of the table is always a better perspective when discussing campaigns, no matter what ocean you are in.
Linda Pereira is a senior partner and a CEO of the L&I Communications Group and an Executive Director of CPL Meetings & Events. Respected internationally as a speaker, a writer and an educator, she has been invited as a speaker to 143 countries and to all the continents. She is recognized for her efficiency, professionalism and thinking outside the box. In 2008 she was considered one of Portugal’s five most influential people in the industry and received the Annual Education Award from USA-based IAHMP. In 2012 Linda was voted one of world’s top 100 PCOs for the third year running. She sits on various Advisory Boards, most notably the Meetings Show and the Portugal’s Events Industry Awards as well as the IAHMP Education Committee which she presides and was the Chair of the International and European Association Congress for the last two years. In 2014 she was voted as the Events Personality of the Year in Portugal and received the Global Marketing Personality Award from WE Magazine in the USA. Currently she is also the Editor of a high profile magazine called Lider which focuses on Corporate Leadership and is Special Advisor to the Minister of the Economy of Cape Verde.
Paul Kennedy MBE
Paul Kennedy MBE is a meetings industry leader and an expert with extensive experience on both the demand and supply sides of the sector. Paul’s experience includes running a multi award winning conference and events centre; a Group Exhibition Director for the world’s largest portfolio of global meetings industry events; a Chairman of a major event industry publishing organisation and now runs his own destination, event and strategic business consultancy. He is a former Chair of the MIA and a member of the Executive Board of MPI.
John Martinez has over 30 years experience in the events industry as a PCO and technology specialist. He spent the first 14 years of his career as a PCO, before founding Shocklogic in 1997, where he now leads an international team to deliver event management technology. Thanks to his experience as a PCO, he understands from inside-out the opportunities and challenges that any membership-based organisation may face. As well as being an ICCA member for 26 years, he has also been on the ICCA board of directors, and a technology faculty member for the IAPCO seminars for 10 years. In 2016 John was named as one of the “Top 100 Movers & Shakers in Events” by Eventbrite.
Prasant Saha is a versatile, multifaceted and successful entrepreneur having founded & established CIMGlobal, one of the forerunners in the international event organiser. CIM Global has the largest network with six offices in India and offices overseas having over 100+ professionals. As the CEO, Prasant is the driving force for the India Association Congress which created a common platform for various associations to meet and share India and International experiences on best practices. He further initiated Middle East Association Congress for the MENA region, being the 1st of its kind in Middle East with Leading regional and international association leaders slated to be a part of it. Prasant believes that education plays a major role for skill development, especially in the service industry & has been a pioneer in the industry, organized several training programs, including sharing best practices among its peer groups. He is a regular speaker at industry meets, such as IMEX, ICCA, PCMA, ASAE etc.
Jan Gemrich is a co-founder and a Partner at Foccus Design, where he helps business owners and investors find new business opportunities and validate their business potential to generate value. Before that he worked 6 years for Google in Prague, London and Toronto where he was responsible for various areas of both B2B and B2C marketing. He most recently led Hardware Marketing for Google Canada, where he was responsible for launch and rollout of products like Google Pixel, Google Home, Google Wifi, Google Chromecast and others.
Belgian born Hugo Slimbrouck spent his entire working life in the hospitality and meetings industry. After a career in hotel sales and marketing with some leading brands from 1976 to 1995, he moved to open the convention bureau of his hometown Bruges. Following this he joined the event agency sector as managing director of a medium sized agency in Brussels and moved to the MCI Group in 2006. Here he participated in the development of the Ovation Global DMC brand and is responsible for the entire worldwide network of strategic partners. Hugo Slimbrouck is a past president of SITE (the Society of Incentive Travel Excellence) and past chair of JMIC (the Joint Meetings Industry Council).
Clara Fernández López
Clara Fernández López is a skilled mediator with a training in understanding-based approach to conflict. As an independent consultor, she supports academic and professional publishing houses, organizations and academic institutions in diverse areas of company strategy, publishing, marketing and in international relations development. Clara joined the Union of International Associations as External Relations Manager in 2011. In her role as Publisher, Managing Director and Member of the Management Board with various international publishing and media companies such as K. G. Saur in Germany, Gale in the U.S., Thomson Learning in U.K. and De Gruyter in Germany, from 1988 to 2011 she was the Publisher of UIA’s „Yearbook of International Organizations“ Since 1998, Clara is a Lecturer in Media Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany and since 2017 Member of the Executive Board of the International Youth Library Foundation.
Caroline has worked in the meetings and event management sector for over 25 years. Congress participation for several top 5 global pharmaceutical companies, and 16 years as a PCO providing consultancy and meetings management to national and international associations. Caroline works with associations to delivery and manage their national and international events. She also advises on association development strategies, income generation mechanisms, impacts of changing trends and regulations including GDPR and compliance matters for medical associations. She is passionate about the importance of Business Tourism as an economic driver and how association events contribute to social and economic legacies. Caroline is a Director with Global Association Partners, a specialist PCO and event consulting company that advises associations and organisations working with the association sector.
Chris brings over 20 years of experience in the meetings industry. Before founding Topconf Software Conferences he worked in different positions in developing, selling, marketing and organizing meetings and events. Among other positions Chris used to work as Director of the Conference Center at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Simonas Raišelis is the founder and chief executive officer of Wisdom Events, a company that organises high-level business meetings for CEOs and executive teams. He believes that personal interaction and a relaxed, closed-door environment can achieve great results. His experience working with the biggest companies in the oil & gas and maritime industries has established him as a trusted partner to prominent professionals all around the globe. His clever leadership and down-to-earth attitude charms employees and clients alike and is sure to impress the CONVENE audience.