The women championing events in 2017

To mark International Women's Day, Event celebrates the achievements of event professionals, singling out some of the industry's top female talent.

Event: celebrating the achievements of women in the industry
Event: celebrating the achievements of women in the industry

The following were all included in Event's Top 100 Club 2017, which showcases the best talent in the event industry. Click here to find out who made this year's list. 

Deborah Kelly, head of UK sales, London & Partners

At the start of 2017, Kelly was promoted to head of UK sales at London & Partners, the official promotional company for London, having joined in 2014 as new business development manager. She previously worked at Marketing Manchester, where she spent six years within the marketing and business tourism teams. A graduate in both international tourism management and event management, Kelly also has prior experience working in investment at the Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service.

Speaking to Event, Kelly said: "I could not think of a better job than showcasing all that London has to offer to the world. We’ve had some great successes last year, such as The AI Summit and The Milken Institute London Summit, and I look forwarding to carrying on working with all our partners to make 2017 equally fruitful." 

Melissa Noakes, experiential marketing consultant and co-founder, Elevate

Noakes, the former head of events at Sony Mobile, launched mentoring programme Elevate last year, together with Maxwell Fellows, head of client services at agency Clive. The programme is aimed at supporting and inspiring ambitious individuals within the events industry. It is open to event professionals of all ages, genders, and from across the entire events industry, be it from a brand, corporate, agency or venue background. 

Speaking to Event, Noakes said: ""We really wanted to be a platform for the events industry to come together at whatever stage, because the reality is that we all learn from each other. So if you can create a platform where CEOs, MDs, account directors, clients and agencies come together, it's what our industry needs."

Deborah Armstong, founder and creative director, Strong & Co

Armstrong is a practicing installation artist and event producer specialising in experiential. She founded Lost Vagueness in 2002, bespoke experiential events company Strong & Co. in 2005 and most famously, Shangri-La Glastonbury in 2008.In 2016 Strong & Co created multiple, new live experiential showcases for Twitter, Beano and Warner Bros. The Beano Live Experience was Beano's first ever live immersive experience, where audiences were taken from paper history to digital future. The experience’s success has led Strong & Co to help the brand to develop a public show, which will generate new revenue streams and PR. Armstrong is also spearheading Summerland, a London-based immersive tropical paradise to be housed in a secret venue, which plans to launch towards the end of this year. 

Speaking to Event about the upcoming Summerland project and its commercial partnership plan, Armstrong said: "The project will be stronger in the long term if we enter into a commercial partnership that enables us to marry our creative skills with the commercial skills of another company rather than doing it in-house. I’m in the process of trying to find the right partner as we need to ensure that it is the right fit both ways."

Catherine Borowski, founder and managing director, Produce UK

Borowski launched the agency in 2004 and last year worked on events for Hyundai, creating a fan dome for the World Cup and staging a rare poster exhibition with Japanese retail brand Muji. This year Produce UK staged its first exhibition. Called 'You Get What You're Given', the exhibition aimed to illustrate themes of death, isolation, complexities of existence and decay.  In January, the agency appointed Chris Wood, former manging director at Cake, as chairman

Speaking to Event about its first exhibition, Borowski said: "We're launching a roving gallery, a new space next year, which came about while I was trying to find a space to exhibit in during Freize [art festival]. All the spaces were booked up, so I decided to build my own. So now it's going to be a year long piece, and every month we'll invite different artists or curators to take over the gallery and do a site-specific installation. It will be a roving gallery that travels around London, or even around the world because it's completely portable."

Emmeline Purcell, senior brand development manager, Ribena

Purcell joined Lucozade Ribena Suntory in 2015, where she has been overseen the expansion of the Ribena Light range and helped establish Ribena's positioning among a new target audience. She previously worked with brands including Kenco and Cadbury. Last year, Ribena staged a one-day activation. The Ribena Colouring Café pop-up in Covent Garden in London was a way to talk to this new audience and bring to life the brand's campaign in a way that is relevant to them.

Speaking to Event, Purcell said: "Colouring is on-trend at the moment and popular with this audience. It is also positively rewarding so we wanted to bring people together in a familiar and comfortable café environment, but in a ‘Ribenary’ way with lots of colour, energy and fun. We will continue to find ways of bringing to life the taste and feeling of Ribena in relevant and meaningful ways for our audience, to bring them things they are interested in and can relate to."

Making an impact

Event also spoke to the Elevate network. Members shared their views on inspirational industry figures in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Kia Hanly, global events director at Quintessentially & Co listed Stacy Lambatos. Hanly said: "Stacy Lambatos, global brand and events director at AOL inspires me - she is a dynamic and impactful leader who has a tireless hunger for creativity and disrupts the status quo. No two days are ever the same and people and brands thrive under her vision." 

Courtney Baisch, talent manager at Amplify nominated "Helen Stokes, my old boss within recruitment at Major Players.  She was passionate about the fact that being a woman is a blessing, a tool almost and the reason we should be ahead of the curve and not lagging behind.  She’s the person who taught me about truly amazing service. She was one hell of a ballbreaker, and undoubtedly the most inspiring woman I’ve ever met."

Jodie McCormac, Amplify’s head of production said: "Amanda Davies is the woman that made me want to get into events. She’s the owner of her own events company and I used to love her creativity and the glamour she used to create."

Samme Allen, director at Sequoia Partnership, said: "The woman that inspires me in this industry is Tracy Halliwell. I've known Tracy since 2006 and have found her to be completely passionate about London and the industry and so supportive of the women and the men in it. Calm and considered, she is someone who inspires by her drive and commitment to both her career and her family. She is someone the UK industry should be extremely proud of having on its team."

Max Fellows, head of client services at Clive, said: "Abby Newel, owner of Piaffe, is someone that you would sit with for no more than an hour and would leave with more energy, knowledge and motivation than you thought possible. She is someone that taught me a lot about the importance of a network, she helped me to understand agency culture and also the essential need for creativity. She has gone on to create her own very successful business whilst also giving help, support and advice to anyone else that needs it. It was thanks to Abby that I was able to secure one of my first agency roles."

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