Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 26 2016

A few moments with Gary Murakami

Patti Spaniak

We caught up with Gary Murakami, CMP, in Vancouver for his first meeting as a member of the national PCMA Board of Directors. If you don’t already know Gary from the Northern California Chapter, put it on your to-do list for 2016. He’s a passionate member of the organization and the industry and enjoys connecting with new people.

Hey Gary, thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk with us, and congratulations on your appointment to the national board of PCMA. So, how does it feel so far?

Thank you. I was humbled and excited to receive the news last year regarding my appointment to the PCMA Board of Directors beginning in 2016. Having been an active member and board director, including chapter president on the local board of the PCMA Northern California Chapter for several years, as well as being an active participant with the national organization on the PCMA Awards & Recognition Committee, including its chair in 2015, I was thrilled and honored to be selected for the national governing board of PCMA.

Can you share any of your industry goals for 2016 for the folks back home?

I am looking forward to my role as a director on the PCMA board to assist and to contribute to the strategic vision of the organization and to be a part of PCMA’s presence as a leader in the global meetings, convention and business events industry.

Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Do tell, where does it come from?

The energy and enthusiasm stems from the passion I have for our industry and the people within this community. I am consistently motivated and invigorated in the connections and interactions I encounter day-to-day in my role in global sales for MGM Resorts International and my involvement in various industry activities and organizations.

I had to download this info from Gary’s LinkedIn profile—unbelievable. Does this guy ever sleep?

In addition to serving as a new director for PCMA Board of Directors with a role as the Board Liaison for the Northern California Chapter and the Corporate Task Force, Gary is currently involved in leadership and committee roles with Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) Chapter & Membership Advisory Council (CMAC) and the Northern California Chapter Board of Directors, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Meetings Committee, the Bay Area Business Travel Association (BABTA) Board of Directors and the Convention Industry Council (CIC) APEX Standards Committee. He is also an advocate and supporter of the community and serves as the Development Chair on the Board of Directors for the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center in San Francisco, as well as a leader for the San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.

He has a passion for education and industry learning, and has several industry certifications, including his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) from the Convention Industry Council as well as designations such as the Global Travel Professional (GTP) and Global Leadership Professional (GLP) from the Global Business Travel Association. He is currently seeking his Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) from MPI and GBTA.

For the folks back home who may not have attended “Cultivating Creative Moments,” any favorite speakers?

Two of the more memorable speakers for me during 2016 Convening Leaders was the Opening General Session featuring Arne Sorenson, President/CEO of Marriott International, and the Closing General Session with Amy Purdy. Mr. Sorenson spoke on the future of the Hotel and Meetings industry in light of the current number of mergers and acquisitions as well as disruptions permeating the current state of the industry. The topic was particularly timely and relevant. Amy Purdy’s presentation to close out Convening Leaders was particularly poignant, as she shared her story of courage, perseverance and strength in the face of adversity and life challenges.

What were your impressions of  Vancouver?
Vancouver is a scenically beautiful city with the backdrop of Vancouver Harbour and neighboring mountains, and also offers interesting and diverse neighborhoods and scenes. I found it to be a gorgeous city that I wish I had more time to explore.

Any places we should check out if we go back?

Although most of my time was spent closer to the conference and convention center, I had an opportunity to experience the amazing food at Blue Water Cafe and to sample the restaurant Sablefish. I also enjoyed the Chinese dim sum, too, at a few restaurants there.

And on the personal side of things. …What’s your idea of perfect happiness? (nod to Vanity Fair)
A warm, sunny place (could be anywhere) surrounded by friends and family enjoying each other’s company

Any famous people you’d like to meet?
I’ve always admired Anderson Cooper, an American journalist and CNN anchor; a person with a fascinating story and a life filled with so many historical and life adventures. And who wouldn’t want to meet and to hear the music of Adele, although I was not successful in scoring tickets for her concert (laughter).

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Always trying to live a life filled with love, happiness and memories surrounded by special friends and family, and having a passion for a career and industry that I look forward to waking up to each day.

What trait do you most admire in others?
A life lived with love, passion, caring and thoughtfulness.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Hawaii and its islands.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother is my true hero in life. She is someone who I admire that lives life with unconditional love, thoughtfulness and caring, and appreciates the happiness from the smallest and simplest things that life provides us.

What is your motto?
Most people who know me know that I’m a huge Winnie-the-Pooh fan and often select and reflect on life with quotes from A.A. Milne and Winne-the-Pooh. Two of my favorite quotes to live by:

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
― A.A. Milne

“Some people care too much. I think it's called love.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


  1. 2 Dana 29 Apr
    Gary, you truly are an inspiration to all of us in the industry!  Thank you for all that you do!
  2. 1 Carolyn 06 May
    I'm sure everyone will click the link "Spend Time with Gary Murakami"!!!  Gary is amazing person that I'm honored to know professionally and personally.

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