By Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, 9 December, 2020

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) delivered an important end-of-year program focusing on rebuilding and reconnecting the industry, with three key events broadcast live in a hybrid format on Tuesday, 8 December from the International Convention Centre, Sydney (ICC Sydney).

The events program, including the EEAA Annual General Meeting, CEO Forum and Awards for Excellence were attended by more 150 industry representatives, in-person and virtually.

Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA Chief Executive said, “The events staged yesterday were an important step for the industry, signifying the return of in-person events, as we announced our newly elected board members, undertook a high-level planning session with senior industry representatives and celebrated with the award winners for 2020.”

“Commencing with the EEAA Annual General Meeting, we named the new EEAA Executive Committee who will be actively involved in implementing the Rebuild Strategy for the exhibitions and business events industry in 2021 and beyond, as well as the continued roll out of the Association’s marketing activity and programs.” said Claudia Sagripanti.

“Two new Members were elected to join the EEAA Board, including Libbie Ray, Director Connected Event Group and Elissa Duke from Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. This result brings greater gender balance to the EEAA Board, adding two new female representatives to the 13 person Executive Committee.”

“Immediately following the AGM, The CEO Forum – attended by international guest commentators and senior leaders from the industry – undertook a strategic look at the global and local issues and structural changes across all sectors of the industry. We cemented the building blocks for a strategic framework to take the industry forward in 2021 and beyond.” said Claudia Sagripanti.

“The event series was completed with a celebration as we paid tribute to the rising stars and unsung heroes of the industry followed by an opportunity for the Association Members to network face-to-face for the first time since March this year.” said Ms Sagripanti.

Alysia McAuliffe from Reed Exhibitions Australia was named the winner of the Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award and joint the winners for the industry Unsung Hero Award were Helen Mantellato from ICC Sydney; and Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda from Event Connected Group.


The EEAA Annual General Meeting and appointment of the EEAA Executive Committee commenced at 12.45pm-2pm with EEAA Members attending in-person and online.

Nominations were called for five Executive Committee positions from the Organiser, Venue and Supplier categories. Nine nominations were received and a ballot was held for all three categories.

Matt Pearce and David Longman were re-elected to the EEAA Board to represent the Organiser category; Elissa Duke was elected and Helen Mantellato re-elected to represent the Venue category and Libbie Ray was elected to represent the Supplier category.

Spiro Anemogiannis, EEAA President said “I am very much looking forward to working with the newly elected EEAA Executive Committee. We will be heavily involved in implementing the Rebuild Strategy for the exhibitions and business events industry in 2021 and beyond as well as the continued roll out of EEAA marketing activity and programs including the EEAA Sustainability Program and Young Stars Program.” Said Spiro Anemogiannis.

“The election result sees a 50% increase in female representation on the Executive Committee and reflects more closely the gender makeup of our sector. Elissa Duke and Libbie Ray will join Helen Mantellato (who was re-elected) and Felcity Zadro who will form a strong voice for the many talented women in our business.” Said Spiro Anemogiannis.

The 2020-2021 EEAA Executive Committee comprises:

Organiser representatives:

President: Spiro Anemogiannis – Managing Director, Informa Australia

David Longman – Managing Director, Diversified Communications Australia

Matt Pearce – Director, Talk2 Media & Events

Brian Thomas – Managing Director, Reed Exhibitions Australia

Association Organiser representative:

Chris Muir – Chief Executive Officer, Gaming Technologies Association

Venue representatives:

Treasurer: Robert O’Keeffe – General Manager, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Vice President – Helen Mantellato – Business Development Manager, International and Exhibitions, International Convention Centre Sydney

Elissa Duke – Senior Manager of Business Relaunch, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Nigel Keen – General Manager, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre

Supplier representatives:

Paul Elliott – State Manager, NSW, Harry the Hirer

Libbie Ray – Connected Event Group

Chris Schlueter – Product Manager, Sprintr by AV1

Felicity Zadro – Manager Director, Zadro Agency

The EEAA President Spiro Anemogiannis thanked board members Leighton Wood from Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre who resigned earlier in the year, Simon Burgess from Adelaide Convention Centre and Shaun Rae from Exponet for their time, ideas and strategic advice to the Association – who will step down from the board following the ballot result.

The AGM was immediately followed by the EEAA’s invitation only CEO Forum and the 2020 Awards for Excellence and end of year celebration.

CEO Forum

The Association used the gathering of its industry leaders to plan for the rebuild of the exhibitions and business events industry in 2021 and beyond.

“The CEO Forum provided the opportunity to take a strategic look at the current operating landscape in the short to medium term and the potential of the business events industry on a global and local scale. We invited the top minds into the room with CEOs of Venues, Suppliers and Organisers involved in open discussion.” said Claudia Sagripanti.

“The program included round table discussions to ensure a two-way dialogue. The feedback is being incorporated into the EEAA strategy for 2021 and beyond.” said Claudia Sagripanti.


The Forum commenced with a keynote address from international guest commentators Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director/CEO, UFI and Denzil Rankine, Executive Chairman, AMR International along with reports from senior industry leaders and interactive round tables.

The topics covered included key event industry trends in a post Covid era, the rebuild strategy for 2021 and beyond, talent and retention and the role of the EEAA in representing the industry into the future.

Industry panellists included Geoff Donaghy, Chief Executive Officer, ICC Sydney; Libbie Ray, Director, Connected Event Group; Richard Ireland, Managing Director Asia; Clarion Events; JoAnne Kelleway, Chief Executive Officer InfoSalons Group; David Longman, Managing Director, Diversified Communications Australia; Gab Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Harry the hirer and Steven Yee, General Manager from Supanova Pop Culture Industries. They presented powerful insights into how their businesses performed over the last 12 months and what we can expect to see for the future.

Several key themes were identified throughout the afternoon’s session, including the role that technology will play in driving the future of the industry, the gaps in capability and skill base – the turnover of skills and new skills required, the importance of strong leadership, strong brand presence and the importance of monitoring global market indicators.

Aiden Hippensteel, Lakisha Di Valentino and Nikki Witman, the winner and highly commended finalists for 2019 Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award presented powerful insights to the panel, providing perspective from the younger Members of the industry.

“We want to ensure the emerging future leaders of the industry are given the opportunity to present their point of view, their vision and insights into our discussions.” said Claudia Sagripanti.

2020 EEAA Awards for Excellence

The Parkside Ballroom at ICC Sydney was quickly transformed from the day’s earlier boardroom-style setup to a celebratory mood as exhibition and event industry delegates gathered in-person and broadcast live to honour the champions of 2020.

Two categories only were presented, the Unsung Hero and The Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever, focusing on the people who have made a significant contribution to their company and the industry.

The entrants were nominated by their employers and industry peers, for their demonstrated 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 Unsung Hero Award featured six finalists, including one joint nomination.

The jointly named Unsung Heroes for 2020 are Helen Mantellato and Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda.

Helen Mantellatto, Business Development Manager, International and Exhibitions – ICC Sydney jointly won the title for her dedication to the industry for the past 36 years. Her business acumen, passion for the industry, focus on keeping clients engaged and her keen attention to detail, have won her recognition globally. She was acknowledged as a driving force behind the sectors recovery.

Libbie Ray and Juston Prisuda, Directors from Connected Event Group were joint winners, acknowledged for their bravery and truly inspirational response to the shut-down of the event industry this year. Using their 20 years’ experience in the events industry, they re-imagined their business by investing in new technology, creating purpose-built new studios and offering experiential services. Their nimble, innovative response provided a lifeline to the events industry around Australia.

The Unsung Hero finalists were: 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 and Nicole Walker, Chief Executive Officer – Arinex.

The Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever Award and The Richard Geddes Young Achiever Scholarship sponsored by Tourism Australia featured four finalists – who are all under 30 years of age and working within the EEAA Member community.

Alysia McAuliffe, Marketing Executive for Reed Exhibitions took out the title. She was nominated for her strong work ethic, infectious personality a total commitment to delivering her best 100% of the time.

The Ungerboeck Richard Geddes Young Achiever finalists were: 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

Alysia McAuliffe will receive a $5000 scholarship, sponsored by Tourism Australia and will be given the opportunity to participate in a range of EEAA events and initiatives in 2021.

A panel of industry experts were invited to judge the two award categories. Chaired by John Trevillian AM, the panel scored against the criteria looking for the outstanding contributions made by the Young Achievers and Unsung Heroes in 2020. The Young Achiever finalists were all interviewed by Members of the judging panel and John Trevillian AM.

“I continue to be impressed with the calibre of talent that is developing in this industry and commend all the entrants along with the EEAA for running this program,” Mr Trevillian said.

The show was hosted by Rodney Cox, Director from Delaro, who volunteered his service and his debonair style to present the two awards.

All three events were operated under the ICC Sydney EventSafe Operating Guide a set of operating principles enabling the safe running of events in an environment transformed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


The EEAA AGM, CEO Forum and 2020 Awards for Excellence was held at the International Convention Centre, Sydney on Tuesday 8 December, with delegates joining in-person and via live broadcast to virtual attendees across Australia.

These three key events are made possible by collaborating with key industry suppliers including International Convention Centre Sydney as platinum partner, Tourism Australia as platinum partner for the EEAA Young Stars Program and Richard Geddes Young Achiever Scholarship along with Awards Partners Skills IQ and Ungerboeck, and Supporting Partners Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In collaboration with ICC Sydney and Joma Blue, the EEAA utilised ICC Sydney Connect – a customised interface that delivered the event content, branding, program, speakers and sponsors via an integrated platform.

Specialist suppliers included Coleman Group who developed all event signage, Eventspass for online registration, Sprintr by AV1 for supply of onsite event registration kiosks; Harry the Hirer for furniture and styling, Orlando Sydney Event Photography who photographed all elements of the event line-up and TMC Productions for the creative onscreen content. Specialist exhibition and event industry printer, Cloudprint Group produced event signage and programs.



Source: Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia