One of the highest honours that can be bestowed on a woman in the MICE industry – the Fiona Hack Inspiration Award – was last week presented to Executive Director of Sandton Convention Centre, Dr Mati Nyazema.

A second award was presented to Exhibition Sales Manager Lorraine Strydom, who was recognised as being among the Top 40 Women in Mice, presented at the annual awards ceremony which recognises and honours women who make a difference in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.

Joint recipient of the Fiona Hack Inspiration Award, along with Hack herself, Dr Mati Nyazema was overwhelmed at being chosen for this inaugural award within the Top 40 Women in MICE. Presented to a woman who makes a difference in the industry and her greater community and is a role model for other women, the award is named after Fiona Hack from Unlimited Events. Despite being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2014, Fiona still continued to run her business, even while undergoing chemotherapy, inspiring her staff and her clients.

“It is a great honour to be recognised as a leader in the industry, and even more so as a role model to women, which is something that is very close to my heart,” says Nyazema, who regards mentorship – particularly of women and young people – by industry leaders and influencers as vitally important to the economic progress of the country. Nyazema contributes to the education of four high school girls, who she visits regularly to coach them and encourage them in their studies, and is also a mentor to a young General Manager within the Tsogo Sun group, Ms Zukiswa Quagraine.

Dr Nyazema was appointed Executive Director of Sandton Convention Centre in July 2006, having been promoted by Tsogo Sun from the position of Director of Operations, a position she had occupied since May 2005. Her vast experience in many aspects of the tourism and hospitality industries including airlines, hotel groups and tourism boards, spans more than 20 years.

The second recipient of an award, Lorraine Strydom was honoured to receive her first ever Top 40 Women in MICE award. Strydom currently holds the position of Sales Manager for Exhibitions at the Sandton Convention Centre, where she has held various positions over the last 15 years. In her current position Lorraine has facilitated a number of shows such as Days of the Dinosaur, My World of Tomorrow and Totally Concrete with Coatings for Africa. She also served on the Board of EXSA as Venue Forum Chair during 2013 and won the EXSA Best Venue Employee Award for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014.

“There are so many phenomenal women who make up the industry, and these awards are a way of giving back and saying thank you. It was time we let these extraordinary women know that they can pat themselves on the back and realise that they are doing fantastic work in the industry,” Martin Hiller, editor or Meetings SA magazine and founder of the Top 40 Women in Mice awards.

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