By Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, 16 November, 2020

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) announces the finalists for the industry’s Unsung Hero and Richard Geddes Young Achievers for the prestigious EEAA 2020 Awards for Excellence.

The candidates include the industry Unsung Heroes who have made a significant contribution to their company and the industry along with emerging leaders for the Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award. The entrants were nominated by their employers and peers from across the Organisers, Venues and Suppliers who perform a wide-range of roles in the events industry.

EEAA Chief Executive, Claudia Sagripanti said “This year we are focusing only on the people who have made a significant contribution to their company and the industry., and will have two award categories, the Unsung Hero Award and the Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award and Scholarship.

These candidates have been nominated by their employer, clients and industry peers, as they have demonstrated a can-do attitude, stoicism, and outstanding contribution during 2020.despite the extremely difficult operating conditions for the exhibitions and business events industry this year.

“The category eligibility and criteria have been designed to showcase the exceptional work of our young members via the Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award and the Unsung Hero of our industry. The Awards will recognise those EEAA Member individuals who have delivered innovation, shown resilience, remained optimistic and engendered business confidence amongst the industry.” said Ms Sagripanti.

The six finalists, including one joint nomination, for the Unsung Hero Award have been nominated for their driving force for change, resilience and their contribution to the success of their company and the industry. The finalists are:

  • Jenna Cali, Operations Manager – Informa Australia
  • Kym De Britt, Chief Executive Officer – Australian Dental Industry Association
  • Helen Mantellato, Business Development Manager: International and Exhibition – International Convention Centre Sydney
  • Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda, Directors – Connected Event Group
  • Nicole Walker, Chief Executive Officer – Arinex

Finalists for the Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award are all under 30 years of age and working within the EEAA Member community, the nominees are:

  • Sian Caton, Marketing Assistant – Diversified Communications Australia
  • Alysia McAuliffe, Marketing Executive – Reed Exhibitions Australia
  • Amy Saleh, Program and Speaker Care Manager – Hannover Fairs
  • Jack Weatherby-Fell, Senior Event Manager – International Convention Centre Sydney

This year, the EEAA has partnered with ICC Sydney to host the Association’s Annual General Meeting, an invitation only CEO Forum followed by the Awards for Excellence and end of year reception on Tuesday, 8 December, where these two important awards will be presented. Delivered in a hybrid format, the December event line-up will be an important time for the industry to recognise these individual achievements, and to reconnect.

“The awards will be broadcast across Australia, with our members and the wider community invited to tune-in around Australia to attend the EEAA Annual General Meeting, followed by the presentation of two important individual Awards,” said Ms Sagripanti.

Felicity Zadro, Managing Director, Zadro Agency was the winner of the Unsung Hero Award in 2019, awarded for her outstanding contribution to the events industry over the last two decades.

The Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award is designed to recognise the emerging leaders who will play a key role in shaping the future of the business events industry in Australia. The Scholarship includes a study grant that can be used by the winner to undertake an approved course of study to develop their skillset and aid their career progression in the exhibitions and business events industry.

In 2019, Aiden Hippensteel from ICC Sydney was the winner of the Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award and Scholarship, and Nikki Wittman from Talk2 Media and Events and Lakisha Di Valentino from Diversified Communications Australia were highly commended

Entries will be judged by a panel of independent industry experts from across Australia. The Association is very pleased that John Trevillian AM is Chair of Judges again in 2020.

The Winners will be announced at the EEAA 2020 Awards for Excellence and End of Year Celebration on 8 December. Registrations are available here.


Unsung Hero Nominations:

Helen Mantellato – Business Development Manager, ICC Sydney

The industry’s ultimate quiet achieving champion, Helen Mantellato, has been putting the needs of business events and exhibition clients first for the past 36 years. Her business acumen, passion for the industry, focus on keeping clients engaged and informed and her keen attention to detail, has won her many friends across the industry, both locally and across the globe, throughout her career. Having held senior roles in the industry since 1984, Helen has also steered many team members to go on to achieve their goals and navigate successful careers in the industry. During the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Helen has worked tirelessly advocating for the exhibition and event industry whilst assisting clients, stakeholders and partners to find solutions to the specific challenges that this globally transformative event presents.

Jenna Cali – Manager, Exhibition Operations, Informa Australia

Jenna has worked at Informa Australia for 6 years on Informa’s major trade shows – AusRAIL, Decor + Design/Australian International Furniture Fair and Safety in Action. Quite simply, she is a superstar. Jenna’s passion, commitment and organization, as well as the fantastic relationships she has formed with event partners and suppliers enables the smooth and efficient running of all the events she manages. There is no problem Jenna hasn’t fixed, always with a smile and a positive can-do attitude. Jenna is customer centric, innovative and passionate about everything she does. In 2020 Jenna rose to the challenge of a transition to virtual by working meticulously behind the scenes to set up a new virtual trade show platform which ensured that informa Australia could deliver the highest quality experience.

Kym De Britt – Chief Executive Officer, ADIA

The Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) is the nation’s peak body representing dental product manufacturers and suppliers. ADIA CEO Kym De Britt is an experienced, versatile Executive with a proven track record of building businesses and culture through change management and leadership across a range of sectors. Kym’s strategic and measured collaborative approach to the threats of COVID on large public gatherings were essential to preservation of the integrity of dental events and exhibitions across the sector, and his response to targeted media criticism was central to the stability of public confidence in the dental profession as a whole. Following the early closure of ADX in response to Government cancellation of large events, Kym’s proactive approach to supporting exhibitors and introducing new events post shut down ensured longevity of large dental exhibitions and events in Australia.

Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda – Co-Directors, Connected Event Group

As joint owners of AV 24/7, Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda had a lot to lose from the shut-down of the events industry in March 2020. Their response has been nothing short of inspirational. Rather than standing still and waiting for COVID-19 to pass or expect a bail out from Government – Libbie and Justin used their 20 years’’ experience of in-person business events to re-imagine their business in a world that could no longer meet face-to-face. As at 1 November, they had helped over 150 companies stay connected to their clients, their people and their important stakeholders. Connected Event Group was launched under a smart new brand – which include AV 24/7, Digital Events, Connected Studios and Virtual Event Box. They invested in new technology for hybrid and virtual events, created purpose-built new studios and experiential services and offered complimentary strategy coaching sessions for the industry. Their nimble, innovative response has provided a lifeline to the events industry around Australia.

Nicole Walker – Chief Executive Officer, Arinex

Nicole Walker, the unsung hero of Arinex, is passionate and devoted to always going beyond what is expected to deliver outstanding service. Nicole is CEO of Arinex, a multi award winning company that has delivered successful event outcomes for nearly 50 years. Nicole harnessed support from 26 business event partners and 35 speakers to host the first industry hub and spoke virtual event since the COVID19 crisis began. ‘The Turn of Events; Bringing Business Events Back’ held on September 16, 2020, showcased COVIDSafe practices and virtual technology solutions to assist event planners and clients in Australia and was livestreamed globally. The event was widely covered by media and nearly 500 attended the event, either in person or online. Nicole’s drive and determination to support the whole business events industry showed courage, strength, leadership and a collaboration not often and provided inspiration and confidence to commence planning events again

Richard Geddes Young Achiever Nominations

Alysia McAuliffe – Marketing Executive, Reed Exhibitions

Alysia McAuliffe joined Reed Exhibitions as a Marketing Executive 2017 with a strong work ethic, an infectious personality and a total commitment to delivering her best, 100% of the time. Alysia did not disappoint. During her time at Reed Exhibitions, Alysia has spearheaded some great initiatives that have delivered meaningful outcomes for customers and the business. She has grown to become the go-to person, not only for the company but also for her fellow marketing executives. Always willing to lend a hand or even coach the newer members of the team, Alysia is trusted to deliver outcomes and to help others do the same. She is a natural leader and instinctively knows when to inject herself in a situation and use her natural abilities to drive any situation or any project forward.

Some of the highlights from her time at Reed Exhibitions include increasing the NPS across the ThinkGP platform by 18 points, growing ThinkGP users by 14,000 and helping launch and successfully market our first hybrid event, which just so happened to sell out.

Amy Saleh – Conference and Events Manager, Hannover Fairs Australia

Amy has been with Hannover Fairs Australia for four years, and has consistently shown herself to be an incredible asset to the business. She joined whilst still completing her Masters in Event Management, from which she graduated as the highest performing student within her program, receiving the Dean’s Merit Award for Academic Excellence. Amy demonstrates commitment, dedication and both a willingness to learn and help others to grow. The events industry often sees young talent come and go, but there are those few that just love what they do and the industry they are in, and turn their passion into a career. Amy is undoubtedly one who will be part of this industry long into the future and is truly capable of going right to the very top. In 2020 she has driven significant elements of the businesses pivot into the digital events space, demonstrating her ability to adapt, innovate and reinvent both herself and her role to match the needs of the business.

Jack Weatherby-Fell – Senior Event Manager, ICC Sydney

Jack Weatherby-Fell, age 29 years has over three years’ experience delivering excellent event and exhibition operations and customer service liaising with clients, internal teams and external suppliers to deliver safe, efficient and world class events at ICC Sydney. Renowned for his organisation, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills and ability to manage multiple operational priorities whilst consistently delivering client satisfaction – Jack is an asset to his organisation. Jack holds a Bachelor of Media, majoring in Communications & Journalism (UNSW), and a Certificate IV in Workplace Health and Safety (TAFE) – both qualifications and his extensive experience in the business events industry have held him in excellent stead when delivering best practice event management. Jack joined the ICC Sydney in mid-2017 and quickly established himself as a highly capable rising star and was appointed as the senior event manager on almost 40 events in the last 12 months.

Sian Caton – Marketing Assistant, Diversified Communications

Sian joined Diversified Communications in January 2019, and quickly established herself as a key member of the team. The last 12 months has been an incredibly challenging yet impressive time for Sian as she has adapted to new ways of working and embraced marketing non-traditional event formats. Sian has shown an agility and ability to innovate. Her keen design eye has been instrumental in the delivery of two virtual events for the company, Luxperience Virtual and the launch event, Be Summit. Sian has championed and delivered new revenue streams into the business, and has spearheaded digital content across multiple brands, including being the architect behind the Diversified ‘Here for You’ campaign at the height of the pandemic. As her physical events were postponed, then re-postponed, Sian confidently lead the roll out complex communications plans, balancing multiple brands and channels, to ensure all messages were timely, on brand and most importantly informative to audiences who were grappling with their own challenges. Her commitment to keeping industries connected and informed, even while she herself was isolated from her peers, goes well beyond her role, and promises a bright future in events.


Source: Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia