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Overall Excellence Chapter Award



6 Questions with Karen Wiersma

Thank you Karen

By: Elodie Lortal, CMP, DES | Jun 15, 2022

Name and designations: Karen Wiersma
Position: Senior Account Manager, Associations
Employer: Shaw Centre
Joined MPI in: 2010

Contact information
Linked IN: Karen Wiersma

Karen Wiersma Headshot

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

The biggest challenge in my career other than the last two years? Probably taking the leap from being an Event Services Manager (ESM) to a Sales role. A very different skills set for each of these roles. One is so detailed, and the other is big picture/strategic. One lesson I learned from one of my colleagues in the industry, to be a great ESM, you must “breathe the meeting”, meaning that you have to think about every aspect, every step of the event. For sales, it’s all about relationship building that hopefully turns to business in the future. I think I’m a better Sales Manager having come from the Event Services role.

What is the biggest challenge facing our industry today and what should we do about it?

The biggest challenge facing our industry today is recruiting and retaining employees. Our industry is so much fun, with flexible hours, I learn something every day!  We need to start speaking with students once they start event/hotel restaurant management programs early on to encourage/engage them to make the meetings and events industry their career.

What are you most passionate about outside of your career and the meeting industry?

I would have to say my family. They have been my rock throughout these last few years. I could use a hobby though… one day I’ll find it! A friend calls me “polyvalent” meaning that I know a little about a lot of things. Maybe that’s what I’m passionate about.

What’s the best advice someone gave you?

For my career, it would have to have been to volunteer with MPI. I was at my first event at the Museum of Nature, I was lucky enough to have sat with Jacques Drury and Bob Davis; both former MPI Ottawa Presidents. They spoke so highly of their experiences being part of the Chapter. You really do get some much more back than what you give.

What advice would you give to someone considering being a volunteer?

Just do it! We all have so many skills that we can bring to the chapter and there is also so many opportunities to learn a new skill. Whether you want to be involved for one specific event or help with monthly tasks, there are so many options for you. We will find the right fit for you.

50 years

Would you like to share any feelings, observations, or stories related to MPI’s 50th anniversary?

Congratulations on your 50th Anniversary MPI! Thank you for your hard work in elevating the meetings industry and for creating a sense of community. I personally have made great friendships and learned so much! Thank you to the MPI Ottawa Board and volunteers for continuing to ensure we had options to stay connected over these last two years. I am looking forward to moving into the President’s role on July 1. I’m thankful to have the support of the Shaw Centre, my employer and my family.

Darlene Headshot Article edited by Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Stonehouse Sales & Marketing Services



EL Headshot
Elodie Lortal, CMP, DES
Catering Coordinator at National Arts Centre

📢 I am a bilingual meetings and events coordinator who helps clients and organizations to plan their events in one of our five unique meeting spaces. The National Arts Centre is an ideal Ottawa venue for virtual, hybrid, or in-person events.


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