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Member Spotlight - Karen Bossin, Director of Conferences & Events, Shoppers Drug Mart

By: Karen Bossin, CMP | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter | May 31, 2021

Karen - Graphic - MPI Member Spotlight

How many years have you been a member of MPI?

40 years (July 1981 Long time member)

How did you get your start in the industry? 

I took a Travel & Tourism program at Seneca College.  I started working at the Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) office in a role that assisted both the VP of Marketing and the Director of Conferences & Events.  After being exposed to those two areas of the business, it confirmed that my interest was definitely in the Conference & Event planning field.  I also reported to a dynamo woman named Goldie Brass.  She was one of the first Presidents at MPI and an excellent person to be mentored by.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment to date?

I wouldn’t say one stands out more than others.  My proudest accomplishments or moments are when an event, conference, or trip I have been involved in planning becomes a memorable experience for one of our conference attendees.  I often get comments from our evaluation forms stating how thrilled our people are with what they have experienced and how proud it makes them feel to work for this company.  This gives me great pride and joy.  Similarly, I also feel proud when a guest speaker I have researched and hired inspires our audience to laughter, tears, and even new beginnings. I’m usually standing somewhere in the room of 2,500 people with a lump in my throat.

What is the most memorable event you have planned, or client experience
you have had? 

My favorite client experience was when I travelled to Orlando to choose a future location for our National Conference.  It was either going to be a hotel right on Disney World property or the Orlando World Marriott just outside of Disney.  After my site inspection of the Marriott, I was driven by golf cart to their golf course on the property.  There were about a dozen Marriott executives waiting there all holding mimosa cocktails.  I was handed one as I stepped out of the golf cart.  One of the executives made a toast to “what we hope will be future business with Shoppers Drug Mart”.  At that point he looked up to the sky (and the rest of us followed his glance).   It was a plane going by and out of that plane jumped a man who pulled out his parachute shortly after and then halfway down he pulled another cord and a Shoppers Drug Mart flag unraveled from his leg and billowed in the wind as the man landed a few feet away from us.  He walked over to where we were standing and asked if there was a “Karen Bossin” in the group.  I awkwardly raised my hand, and he gave me an envelope from the breast pocket of his jumpsuit.  The note inside read “We have been happy to show you our property and know you must now make a choice. Just for the record, we can be way more creative than Disney.”  That was a wow!  (P.S. They did win the business, but it was because of the overall value and suitability of the convention space.  Creativity was a bonus, and I was happy to see it did continue at the Conference!)

My favorite event was in 2006 at our Conference’s Closing Reception at San Francisco’s City Hall.  The setup was absolutely breathtaking.  I even had one of the attendees send me a framed photo of the event which I keep on my office wall.  The venue to begin with was incredibly beautiful but add to that our company logos lit up with gobos on the gorgeous ornate walls and the venue was now exquisitely ours.  The attendees entered the main foyer area which was a huge expansive lavish space with three stories of balconies.  They were greeted by various classical musicians in black tie lining each side of the grand staircase before them.  A red carpet and exquisite florals lead them up the staircase to a large chocolate fountain filled with many delightful treats.  Wrapped around the outskirts of the second floor were sommeliers offering wine tastings from the various Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries, all while the attendees enjoyed delectable, passed food items.   There were opera singers performing from the balconies at various times throughout the evening.   We offered dueling pianos at one of the spaces off the main floor and a fabulous dance band off the other.  We had many strolling performers and fun activities throughout the venue, certainly something to please everyone.  The evening could be described as nothing short of magical and still remains one of my favorites to this day.

What advice would you give to someone just coming into the industry? 

One of my favorite quotes is “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”.  After more than 40 years working as a Conference & Event planner for Shoppers Drug Mart, this quote really captures how I feel about my position.  I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t look forward to going to work. I certainly chose the right industry, career and company for me.  My advice could be summed up in another quote from one of our guest speakers: “If you don’t love what you do, leave what you do.  If you can’t leave what you do, then love what you do!”

What are some things you do to keep interested, updated and inspired?
I attend speaker showcases, industry conferences and events, meet regularly with suppliers, network with other planners, and read articles from all the various industry magazines. MPI is one of my greatest resources. Working for the same company all these years really challenges your creativity; especially since the audience is basically the same.  However, when you’ve been around as long as I have, some of the old ideas become new again.

About the Author:

karen bossin

Karen Bossin, CMP
Director, Conferences & Events
Shoppers Drug Mart
Email -



karen bossin
Karen Bossin, CMP | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter

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