PCMA Highlights Focus on Sustainability, Leadership, AI, and Global Growth

CHICAGO, IL – PCMA and CEMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat, CAE highlighted the global business events industry’s growth and transformation during a business keynote during Convening Leaders 2024 in San Diego, CA. Emphasizing the importance of thinking bigger and beyond traditional mandates post-pandemic, PCMA has expanded its event portfolio through acquisitions, partnerships, and new products, aiming to deliver a better experience for the global business events industry.

“By 2025, PCMA plans to connect with over 10,000 business event professionals at live events on four continents, with a global community exceeding 35,000 people,” said Karamat. “We are thinking bigger, we are thinking bolder and always aiming to be better, not because we can, but because we must in order to make our community’s world a better place.”

PCMA’s expansion and its commitment to sustainability were highlighted, along with updates to AI startup Spark, co-founded with Gevme, to enhance event productivity. Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, joined Karamat to address the gender disparity in leadership within the industry, proposing a coalition to advance women into senior roles. The session concluded with announcements of future initiatives, including the industry’s first Sustainability and Climate Summit in Barcelona and the inaugural Convening LATAM in Bogota, Colombia, reflecting PCMA’s global influence and dedication to driving industry advancement.

The following is a summary of key announcements:


In 2023, PCMA announced a partnership with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) which has since delivered on multiple initiatives including workshops, sessions, and approaches to strategy. PCMA appointed its first head of global sustainability and announced a partnership with the Strategic Alliance of National Convention Bureaux in Europe (SANCBE) representing 29 countries.

Through these partnerships and investments, the industry’s first Sustainability and Climate Summit will be held in conjunction with Convening EMEA in Barcelona October 2–3, 2024.

Karamat noted, “We will examine how today’s climate technology not only mitigates our environmental impact, but also opens doors to new efficiencies and opportunities in the world of business events.”

2024 will be the catalyst for future editions, formats, and continued engagement with the global business events community. Further details will be available in the coming months including the program, how to engage and what to expect.


The PCMA Foundation and Business Events Sydney (BESydney) released the first of its two-part findings of a new global study into Advancing Women in Business Events. Last year, research was conducted to explore the pronounced gender gap in the global business events industry.

PCMA and BESydney believe that a diverse and inclusive leadership team is not just a strategic advantage, but a fundamental necessity for the industry’s sustained success. By fostering an environment that values and promotes the unique perspectives and talents of women, both organizations aim to set a standard for excellence and innovation.

“The World Economic Forum last year predicted it would be 131 years until gender parity could be achieved globally. This is unacceptable, and as leaders of an industry with a strong female talent pool, we need to take collective and bold action to accelerate progress towards equitable leadership for all,” said Lyn Lewis Smith, Chief Executive Officer, BESydney. “Whether it’s diversity of gender, or of race, age, ability or cultural background, new and alternate perspectives are the backbone of innovation and good decision-making. Diversity in Board and CEO leadership ranks isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense for our sector’s resilience globally.“

Part II of the report, scheduled for release later in the first quarter of 2024, will present recommendations for actions that companies and individuals can implement to address the challenges outlined in the initial report released during Convening Leaders 2024. It also will present evidence for why women are ideally suited for leadership roles and why their leadership attributes and skills are critical to the success of the business events industry of the future.

For additional details and to download the report, visit The Advancing Women in the Business Events Industry Study Part I.


Launched in 2023, Spark is now the go-to AI productivity tool for nearly 5,000 event organizers in more than 40 countries. Convene magazine reported that 64% of business event professionals are currently using generative AI to manage their events. Corporations and organizations are now exploring how Spark can be integrated into their entire enterprise event operations.

Spark Takeaways is the latest enhancement to the Spark platform. Introduced during Convening Leaders 2024, Spark Takeaways analyzes streaming content in real-time, distills pivotal insights and summaries and generates Key Takeaways, Idea Cloud, and a comprehensive Summary from live sessions.

“The insights and ideas generated by Spark Takeaways are not only insightful, but also easily shareable,” said Veemal Gungadin, Gevme’s CEO. “This feature will amplify the reach of an event’s content and potentially make it go viral. Additionally, our commitment to inclusivity is evident in our multilingual capabilities. Participants can listen to a session in one language and access the takeaways in another.”

Spark Takeaways was available to all CL24 participants at the end of the daily general sessions via a QR code on the mainstage screens.

During Business Events Industry Week (BEIW) in Washington, DC, Spark will host AgendAi, a workshop for event innovators and destination marketing technology trailblazers. It will bring clarity to what’s real and what matters now at the intersection of AI and business events. AgendAi will help participants understand which part of their business can benefit from generative AI and to craft their own AI-driven plans for productivity and performance with their business partners. Additional details will be available soon on the BEIW website.


PCMA will hold the inaugural Convening LATAM, the gateway to reimagining the possibilities of what transformative economies can deliver in a united Latin America, in Bogota, Colombia. May 4-7, 2025.

Convening LATAM 2025 will provide a unique opportunity for the business events industry to be part of LATAM’s transformative moment. Participants will gain compelling insights from thought leaders on event design, sustainability, innovation, and audience engagement using AI within a collaborative community. Over the next few months, PCMA will share additional program updates.

“PCMA firmly believes in the pivotal role of business events in catalyzing social and economic transformation,” said Karamat. “In the dynamic landscape of LATAM, these events serve as catalysts for an evolutionary shift, ingeniously reshaping and redefining regional challenges into boundless opportunities.”


PCMA’s global events portfolio is growing. By 2025 we will be connecting with over 10,000 business event professionals at our live events on four continents. When you add in the people we engage with through courses, webinars, labs, Chapter meetings, the PCMA global community exceeds 35,000.

For media queries from the Americas, APAC, EMEA, and requests for interviews with Sherrif Karamat, please contact: Meghan Risch, PCMA Chief of Staff, Vice President, Corporate Communications

About PCMA

PCMA, PCMA Foundation and CEMA educate, inspire, and listen, creating meaningful experiences where passion, purpose and commerce come together. We are the world’s largest community for Business Events Strategists, providing senior-level education, networking, and market intelligence for the global business events industry. Our mission is to drive social and economic progress through business events. Headquartered in Chicago, IL PCMA has 17 North American Chapters, regional communities in APAC, EMEA and LATAM, and members in 59 countries. The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA), a PCMA subsidiary, advances strategic event marketing and marketing communications for senior-level event marketers and industry professionals. Visit us at pcma.org.

About PCMA Foundation

The role of the Foundation of PCMA is to support the mission of PCMA through fundraising and grant-giving focused on scholarships, education and research that will advance the business events industry. Annually the Foundation funds over $700K in impact, and since 1985 has funded over 2,500 scholarships, 100 research studies and education programs, and $2.7M in charitable giving.

About CEMA

The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) is the eminent community for senior event executives, association peers and industry partners and is an integral component of the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) brand collective. CEMA promotes professional networking opportunities, facilitates peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and drives industry standards. Through strong relationships with strategic partners, CEMA fosters both finding innovative solutions to business issues and continuous focus on members’ career growth. For more information, please visit http://www.cemaonline.com.

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