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Meet the 2024 Judges


All CN Agency Awards submissions are judged by an independent panel of leading event organisers from within the conference and meetings industry. Curated to ensure there are no conflicts of interest, each member of the judging panel will receive an allocation of submissions to score and return with additional comments, from which the winners will be decided.

Sarah Zarywacz

Sarah Zarywacz

Company & Role: Boston Consulting Group, Meetings & Events Operations Manager

Sarah is a corporate event manager with cross-industry experience in leading teams and producing events globally. Outside of her day job, Sarah runs an industry blog, is an industry mentor for Manchester Metropolitan University, and leads the Fast Forward Forum which runs alongside Fay Sharpe OBE’s Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

A winning agency should demonstrate their ESG efforts and its impact, showcase some of their outstanding events and highlight the innovative/creative approaches they bring to event design. I’m looking for those who bring true value not only to our industry, but also to the world in which we live.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I have worked with multiple different agencies over the years - from small start ups to large global agencies. I have used agencies throughout my career for full event and campaign production, venue/vendor finding and for hybrid events.

Why should agencies enter the CNAA's?

Agencies should enter because the CNAAs provide the opportunity for them to showcase their finest work, their true ESG impact and of course celebrate their team’s hard work.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Because this industry is incredibly inspiring and who doesn’t want to uncover the hottest happenings within the agency world?! I’m looking forward to delving into our industry’s best agency work to uncover those hidden gems that we may not otherwise have heard about who are making huge impact to their clients, the environment and our society.

Sarah Fitzpatrick

Sarah Fitzpatrick

Company & Role: BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association), Head of Partnerships and Events

The associations industry is where my passion lies and having spent 30 years in the event management arena both in-house and agency side for both corporates and associations, I now head up the Partnerships and events team at BSAVA. Experienced in all elements of project management including end-to-end event delivery, effective resourcing, leadership and mentoring, brand/project marketing, communications, financial management. Strong commercial acumen, with a flair for developing additional revenue streams outside of events and building robust relationships and partnerships.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Commitment to developing programmes that demonstrate inclusive event design, sustainability initiatives and driving connections. I'm keen to see how the marketing is developed to create pre-event engagement and how community is being built (appreciate this is specific to Associations / membership organisations).

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

Yes, I have worked a number of leading PCO agencies, both national and international

Why should agencies enter the CNAA's?

To get the recognition they deserve for their commitment to the events industry in exceptionally challenging times. To celebrate the great achievements and successes across the industry. To be celebrated and recognised by their peers.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

With a curious mind, I am always keen to see how the events arena is developing, what's new, the innovations and creativities. How organisations are pushing the boundaries in delivering events that improve the attendee experience, attendee connections and how programmes are evolving to curate truly inclusive events (DEI)

Nicola Pogson

Nicola Pogson

Company & Role: R3 - Association of Business Recovery Professionals, Senior Events Manager

I've been working in events for over 9 years and love it as much as I did when I first started. I'm currently at R3, a member organisation. I lead a team to run national events as well as supporting our members around the UK to run region specific events.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

To me a winning agency is one that both challenges and inspires the clients they work with. They bring their own expertise to enhance the organisation they're working with but are also really good listeners. Advances in technology can do so much for events that it will be great to see how it's been used with the different agencies. Event Teams are focusing on being more sustainable so I'll be looking at how agencies are bringing sustainable elements into their work without compromising on the overall experience.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I've worked with various agencies before, as a small team supporting on over 70 events a year it's vital!

Why should agencies enter the CNAA's?

Being a finalist, or winner of the awards is a fantastic way to celebrate all the hard work an agency does. It's also a great way to showcase yourselves to the profession.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

I'm really looking forward to joining the panel, I can't wait to discover the best of the best in our industry and celebrate a lot of hard work.

Kelly Power

Kelly Power

Company & Role: Osborne Clarke, Events Team Manager

A lover of all things events. A corporate Events Team Manager experienced in running a range of in-person and virtual events from conferences to festivals for groups of 10-1K. Having been both sides of the agency fence and relied on agency expertise for years now am looking forward to getting stuck in to the entries and reading about the ground breaking work that is being done. Super excited to be on the judging panel having worked historically on the operations of awards ceremonies.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Innovation, resourcefulness, creativity, flair, a sustainable approach, tenacity in the face of change and a bold attitude as to what can be done.
Have you worked with / for agencies before?

Worked for Elysium Global Events during my brief stint agency side many years ago, and worked with Pure Comms Group, Make Events, Interaction, Conference Care, Lotus Events, Ultimate Experience, Inspirational Venues and Events, Helms Briscoe.

Why should agencies enter the CNAA's?

Because it is a great way to recognise excellence in a saturated market. Having been on the side of tenders an awards win is a unique way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Yes! I can't wait to network with the other judges and be inspired by the entries. Hoping to read all about the boundary breaking work of the last 12 months.

Heather Lishman

Heather Lishman

Company & Role: ABPCO, Association Director

Heather Lishman is the Association Director of The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) which is a dedicated industry association bringing the association events community together to promote and encourage excellence, share, learn and collaborate.  ABPCO membership is open to professional conference organisers, suppliers, associates and destinations who clearly demonstrate the skills, knowledge and experience required to plan and organise major UK and international conferences.

How many events do you organise annually?

12+

What types of events do you typically organise?

Roundtable discussions, a Festival of Learning and Excellence Awards

Do you/have you worked with an event agency previously?

Yes!

What are you looking for from an award-winning agency?

Creativity, communication and enthusiasm to drive events forward.

Becky Osborn

Becky Osborn

Company & Role: Advent International, Events Manager

Becky Osborn joined Advent International, a global private equity investor, in 2015. She currently heads up events in Europe and Asia, and has vast experience in delivering a variety of B2B events.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

I am looking for innovative ideas, creative solutions and agencies that are forward thinking. I want to be left feeling inspired!

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I have not worked for an agency before but have worked with multiple agencies including event management agencies, event tech providers, DMCs, venue finders, etc

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

It's an amazing opportunity for agencies to be recognised for their innovation, excellence and creativity in delivering impressive and prolific events and solutions.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

I am incredibly excited to join the panel, working with Conference News and other esteemed event professionals to award the industries best agencies. I'm looking forward to potentially learning of new agencies and seeing what best-in-class services are being provided.

Jane Harris

Jane Harris

Company & Role: Constellate, Freelance Event Manager

I’ve worked in events for over 20 years, with the majority of this time for inhouse events team for a large corporate. Recently having made the move to freelance I’m excited by the new opportunities of working with other organisations and agencies to deliver some standout conferences and events.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

To see how an agency is able to transform a client brief beyond the standard deliverables and really bring the event to life, to create memorable moments for the attendees and exceed the clients expectations. This doesn’t just need to be limited to the overall look and feel but how else they’ve been able to innovate or improve processes and experiences.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?:

I’ve worked with a couple of agencies during my time as an inhouse event manager and what I’ve really enjoyed about the experience is how they’ve been able to become an extension of the inhouse team and have provided support throughout the event lifecycle.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

To showcase some of the outstanding events that are being created, and the time, commitment and love put into bringing these events to life.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

As my first experience of joining an industry panel I'm excited to learn more about the industry I work in and the vast network of amazing talent out there.

Michelle Rees

Michelle Rees

Company & RoleGLG, Senior Director, Head of Events & Internal Communications - EMEA

Michelle is an event and engagement professional with 16 years of corporate in-house experience managing global events and teams in end-to-end event production. Michelle also co-owns Eventprofslive, a networking group for corporate event professionals, regularly speaks at industry events and is a proud mentor for the FastForward15 2021/22 cohort.

Kate Bullard

Kate Bullard

Company & Role: Baker McKenzie, Events Manager

Strategic events manager with over 10 years experience in the legal sector with a strong focus on maximising business development opportunities and demonstrating ROI. Co-owner of Eventprofslive, a networking group for corporate event professionals.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

An agency who are an extension of your team, understand your brand, focus on sustainability, creative and innovative.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

Yes, I've worked with a number of agencies during my time within the industry.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

To raise their profile, showcase their expertise and shout about all their amazing work!

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Yes, I'm incredibly excited to see some of the amazing talent in the industry.

Elle Forder

Elle Forder

Company & Role: The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Events Manager

I have been working in the events industry for fifteen years, working in both Corporate and Charity sectors. On a personal level i sing in a choir, love going to the theatre and concerts and have an Etsy shop where i sell chunky knit scarves hand knitted by me!

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Reliability, inspiration, professionalism, friendliness and goo communication.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I have worked both with and for agencies.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

What an opportunity to showcase the brilliance of your agency and team.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Yes! I was honoured to be asked to join the panel, I 'm hoping that the experience and knowledge of the events world I have, will bring insight and a fair opinion whilst looking at all category entries.

Akilah Walwyn-Smith

Akilah Walwyn-Smith

Company & Role: Barnett Waddingham, Senior Events Executive

I have worked in the events industry for over 15 years now for a range of companies from, finance to the public, seeing it go through all its highs and lows. Working on large conferences with over 1000 attendees, incentives, parties, and dinners. I have slowed things down a little but still strive to deliver excellent events in-house.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

I am looking for something new and innovative, something that is not afraid to challenge the norm and thinks outside the box. How are they keeping events innovative now we are back in person.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I have worked for an agency in the past and worked with them on some large scale events.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

Why not get recognised and celebrate the work your agency is doing? It is one of the hardest jobs to keep your clients happy and those attending the events. Sometimes agencies get forgotten as their name is not on the front of the event.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Yes, I have never done this before and its a great way to reward those who often sit in the background and don't get rewarded for all their hard work.

Siri Brudevold

Siri Brudevold

Company & Role: Brompton Bicycle, Global Events Manager

With over a decade of global event management experience and a Master's in International Events Management, Siri is a seasoned professional with a passion for creating memorable experiences. She brings extensive expertise from roles at renowned companies like Brompton Bicycle and TikTok to the judging panel at the Conference News Agency Awards.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

I put a high value on innovation, creativity, and the ability to deliver exceptional experiences. Above all, I am excited to see entries that demonstrate a deep understanding of client needs, a clear impact on the industry, and a commitment to sustainability or social responsibility through their work.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

Agencies should enter because it's a fantastic platform to showcase their talent and hard work. Winning or being shortlisted can significantly boost their reputation, attract new clients, and provide well-deserved recognition from peers within the industry. Plus, it's a chance to reflect and celebrate their accomplishments, so why not!

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

I'm absolutely thrilled to join the panel! It's an incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the latest trends and see what agencies have been working on. Having worked for and with agencies, I'm eager to celebrate their remarkable achievements and innovations.

Being part of this dynamic process is an honour and a tremendous source of inspiration for my own work.

Emma Grant

Emma Grant

Company & Role: Moody's, Assistant Director - Events

Emma is an assistant director within the Moody's Investors Service events team, currently managing the global strategy for our Financial Institutions program. Having working in both our London and New York office, Emma manages complex global roadshows for our customers, and large internal events. Prior to joining Moody's, Emma worked as a project manager at London based agency, Banks Sadler.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

I'm looking for a mix of world-class creative solutions, and exceptional execution.
Have you worked with / for agencies before?

Yes - I used to work for Banks Sadler and currently work closely with our event agency, Broadsword

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

It's easy to forget how amazing our work can be when we are jumping from event to event - but it's always important to take time to reflect and celebrate success.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Absolutely - I love looking at what other companies are doing to stay ahead of the game and think it's really important to recognize our industry stars.

Phoebe Benta

Phoebe Benta

Company & Role: The LEGO Group, Head of Design Community & Events

I am a highly experienced Events Professional with a proven events planning background and a key understanding of the operational needs within the events industry. I have a BSc in Events Management with Tourism from Sheffield Hallam University.

I was born on the Caribbean Island of Antigua and relocated to the UK for my further and higher education studies; I now live and work in Denmark for the LEGO Group.

I create and implement the LEGO Design organization events and community strategy.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Expertise and proven track record, creative and innovative ideas and deliveries

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

It is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the fantastic teams and individuals who work to execute on the client's vision.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Yes, it is a great opportunity to see what the best of the industry has to offer and engage with the events community.

 

 

Kelly Frew

Kelly Frew

Company & Role: P&O Cruises, Events Director

I am an imaginative events and communications professional specialising in Corporate, Virtual, International, Brand Experience and Live Broadcast Events. In my current role as Events Director, I lead consumer, trade, brand and PR events, experiential and brand partnership activity - strategy, planning and delivery.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Innovation, creativity, brand awareness and a bold pioneering approach.

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

Yes, covering a range of projects and requirements from design, creative, film, photography, event production, talent management, project governance and delegate support.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

To recognise the fabulous work your team have delivered alongside the clients you partner with. It's a great way to celebrate success and be recognised by the industry at the same time.

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

To be given the opportunity to be a cheerleader for the hard working and creative agencies we have within the events industry is a wonderful thing!

Nicola Weston

Nicola Weston

Company & Role: Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Senior Events Manager

Nicola Weston has worked for some of the world’s most prestigious law firms, ensuring that internal and client engagement events deliver on their objectives and stay at the razor edge of innovation and impact.

Nicola is an industry speaker, senior member of multiple event industry networks, and a passionate advocate of the benefits of Peer Mentoring.  Nicola has qualifications in Coaching and Design Thinking and is a dedicated mentor to members of the event industry both corporate and agency-side.

Alongside her corporate role, Nicola has also lent her skills to numerous pro bono consultancies, including managing a programme of events around HeForShe Arts Week for UN Women NC UK.

What are you looking for in a winning agency?

Transparency, adaptability, creativity, diversity of thought, inclusivity, and an understanding of the nuances of different brand needs. So, not much really!

Have you worked with / for agencies before?

I have a breadth of experience working with a wide spectrum of agencies and a keen interest in how teams can foster healthy and productive working relationships on both sides.

Why should agencies enter the CN Agency Awards?

It is a brilliant opportunity to reflect on and showcase your achievements... great for the feel good factor and for PR... it's a win/win!

Are you looking forward to joining the panel?

Absolutely. Looking forward to reading the entries and contribute in a small way to praising some of the industry's game-changers, innovative thinkers, and unsung heroes who go above and beyond to make their clients look good to their senior stakeholders.  

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