Honorable Mention Chapter Award
May 18, 2021
Dinner's Ready Live! - Let's Get Ready to Pesto!!
Interactive cooking show benefitting the MPIGNY Cycle for Survival Team!
Click here for more info!

Honorable Mention Chapter Award




By: Mike Veny | Mar 12, 2021

It might strike you as slightly odd to read a woman’s roadmap to success in leadership that’s written by a man, but I hope you’ll hear me out. My career as a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and mental health speaker has allowed me to make connections with incredible women leaders in the meeting and event management industry over the years.

Through these experiences, I’ve noticed the strength and some of the challenges of successful women in leadership from the outside looking in.

Learning from successful female leaders
I recently spent time interviewing six successful women in the industry. They openly shared their knowledge, experience and insights with me. It was gold! Here’s their advice for future leaders:


Ashly Balding
Chief Sales Officer, Associated Luxury Hotels International
“It takes courage and vulnerability to ask for clarification. As women, sometimes it can potentially feel like we have to do the right thing and say the right thing. So just have that courage that you are enough and believe in what you’re trying to do and trying to accomplish. Give yourself grace.”

Kaaren Hamilton
Kaaren Hamilton
Vice President, Global Sales at RLH Corp.
“Be curious, and let your curiosity guide you. Be agile. Do not underestimate the value of developing the soft skills. I think women feel they have to be the subject matter experts in whatever their designated area is. That’s not necessarily true. It’s having a more broad understanding of all the functional areas because when you get in between, into the gray space, that’s where the real value is for the organization. It’s being able to work across the organization.”

Ruth KatzRuth Katz Headshot.flipped
Co-head, Americas Event Planning at Morgan Stanley
“Don’t be scared to ask the questions. It will never be considered a stupid question or silly thing. It shows that you’re trying to understand and digest the information. And it just makes you appear smarter, so ask the question.”


Allison KinsleyAllison Kinsley
Chief Meeting Architect at Kinsley Meetings and member of the Business Recovery Task Force at Events Industry Council
“Vulnerability is a term that is too often bandied about with women. But I find that we get into the workplace and it’s where we shut that off because we think we need to, or we think that there isn’t a place for it in what we do. I think that above anywhere else, it’s where it can really come into play and be a strength. Vulnerability is the ability to learn. It is the ability to relearn as necessary. Vulnerability and humility are the pieces that make you approachable, and I think approachability is important both as somebody coming into the industry and even more so as a leader.”

Devin LewisDevin Lewis
Director of Regional Sales, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
“Always present your best self. Show up and show out. Present your best self from head to toe. That’s your calling card. That’s your representative. That gives you either the advantage or not. You don’t always get a second chance to make a first impression. You want people to be curious enough about who you are to want to know you more. That’s your in.”

Jami StapelmannJami Stapelmann
Global Head Travel and Meetings, Estée Lauder Companies
“Do not give your title, especially when you’re just starting out. When somebody asks you your title, that’s really not informational. I like to reframe it with the elevator pitch. What is your value to the organization? What is your role in the bigger picture? How do you fit in and align with the goals of your company?” 

Common traits of successful female leaders

While these women were from different locations, different roles and different backgrounds, I noticed a few trends:

They are servant leaders. They didn’t rise to the top and shut the door behind them. They’re in the trenches when needed with their teams. People follow them because they’ve earned their respect.

They aren't afraid to be vulnerable. They know vulnerability doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it’s part of what makes strong leaders.

They are courageous. These female leaders have the courage to pursue opportunities even when it takes them outside of their comfort zone.

They ask questions. This often takes both courage and vulnerability. Successful leaders ask questions so they can continue to learn, grow and adapt.

They give themselves grace. Successful leaders understand that everyone makes mistakes, including them. Women can feel the pressure of trying to be perfect. But it’s OK to make mistakes and important to show yourself grace when you do.

They know the core values. This includes their personal values along with the values of the organization. And they know how the values align together.

They have healthy confidence. These leaders know the value that they bring to the table.

An actionable step you can take today on the road to success
I want to leave you with one more piece of advice that each of these women shared. When asked “What’s one question you wish you would have asked at the beginning of your career?” the results were:

  • What do I need to do to create a culture of trust which ultimately creates success? (Ashly Balding)

  • How can I look more broadly at the industry? (Kaaren Hamilton)

  • What other types of event planning are there? (Ruth Katz)

  • How else can I get involved in the industry outside of my job? (Allison Kinsley)

  • How can I tell when I’m making the right decision? Understand what it feels like. (Devin Lewis)

  • Why are there no women in the room? (Jami Stapelmann)

These questions hold the answers to things that these experienced women leaders wish they had asked at the beginning of their careers. I want to encourage you to be courageous, be vulnerable and ask these questions yourself.

Good luck on your road to success! 



Mike Veny (1)
Mike Veny
Keynote Speaker & Author

Mental health speaker and best-selling author Mike Veny delivers engaging presentations with raw energy and a fresh perspective on Diversity and Inclusion. He shares how he went from struggling with mental health challenges to being a thought leader that travels the globe telling his story to help transform stigma. As a 2017 PM360 ELITE Award Winner, he is recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare industry for his work as a patient advocate.


Load more comments
New code




Connect with Us

Job Postings