The IMEX Group is celebrating the role of women in the meetings industry and inviting professionals to find their inner astronaut and be inspired by some of the world’s leading female thought leaders.

Pioneering women will gather for She Means Business, a first-ever, half-day program at IMEX Frankfurt May 15-17, 2018, to share their experiences, provide advice and inspire action.

As gender equality and female empowerment become increasingly hot topics for society at large, so too are they hitting home within the meetings and events industry.

“There are a number of macro issues coming into play generally around the world, possibly because of the rate at which we’re able to communicate,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, adding that surveys about important issues from last year’s attendees prompted the creation of the live event focusing on women’s leadership this year. “Every industry is impacted by the debates and conversations around these issues.

"We have a special case in the meetings industry—it’s 75 percent women," she added. "But then you look at the leadership of our industry and it’s not reflective of that.”

Bauer emphasized that making sure women have role models so they can confidently move into more leadership positions is key.

The half-day She Means Business Conference, part of EduMonday at IMEX in Frankfurt, invites not just women, but all attendees, to network and learn from highly influential speakers and mentors who have overcome challenges and broken boundaries.

“We’re really excited about the speakers and panelists for the program,” Bauer said. “It’s going to start with inspiration and how to reach for the stars because we’re all astronauts.”

She Means Business will kick off with Women in Space, a dual keynote by Major Nicola Baumann, one of Germany’s only three female Eurofighter pilots, and Laura Winterling, a former astronaut instructor and CEO of Space Time Concepts GmbH.

As part of the Women in Business strand, sessions will cover topics such as empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community, eradicating the gender pay gap and gender biases, and increasing leadership positions by women.

Speakers will include Karina Nordmeyer, chairwoman of the UN Women National Committee; Dr. Mara Harvey, head global UHNW Germany, Austria, Italy at UBS; Suzanna Labonde, director of global employer branding at SAP; and Isabel Bardinet, CEO of the European Association of Cardiology.

During the Women in Events strand, Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, will share her personal insights gained after Sydney hosts The Global Summit of Women in April and best practices of organizations driving a cultural shift to support women in business.

Meanwhile, Jeannine Koch, director of re:publica, Europe’s biggest digital conference, will explain how the focus on equality empowers the event’s community.

Sheriff Karamat, CEO of PCMA, will round off She Means Business as the moderator of a panel discussion entitled Women in the Meetings Industry—on Eye Level with Men? The discussion will revolve around how a commitment to gender equality and diversity can lead to positive change and new opportunities and will be followed by the opportunity for in-depth roundtable discussions and networking.

“At the end of the day, we believe it’s going to be a multigendered discussion because it’s important for men to know how they fit into the conversation,” Bauer said.

She Means Business will complement other programs at IMEX Frankfurt this year.

“We have a session every day at IMEX around women’s leadership as well as the support of Fast Forward 15, which focuses on mentorship for women,” Bauer said.

Every year, Fast Forward 15 gives 15 women in the meetings, hospitality and associated industries a chance to be mentored and advised by an industry expert for one year.

The team is looking for new talent to enroll in its 2018 program before the closing date of March 9. For more details visit

With women’s issues continuing to gain momentum in the U.S., Bauer said depending on the success of She Means Business at IMEX Frankfurt, the group may launch a similar program at IMEX America in Las Vegas.