PCMA Announces New Acquisitions, Partnerships at Convening Leaders

The association has added the Event Leadership Institute and the Event Marketing Association U.K to its portfolio, and also will partner with a scientific association to tackle climate change.

(Left to right) Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA and CEMA; Randy Fiser, CEO and executive director of AGU; Jason Dunn, executive director of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals; Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International; and Howard Givner, senior vice president of knowledge and innovation for PCMA Photo Credit: Michael J. Shapiro

Updated Jan. 17, 2023

The Professional Convention Management Association announced a handful of acquisitions and partnerships at its annual Convening Leaders meeting, which took place Jan. 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio. An estimated 3,300 meeting professionals were in attendance.

In an effort to bolster its educational content offerings, PCMA has acquired the Event Leadership Institute, which provides meetings industry training, professional development and education. Current PCMA members will receive immediate access to ELI's existing content library. 

"PCMA and the PCMA Foundation will continue to make new investments in the development of education and learning products as part of its plan to ensure the industry continues to be innovative today so that all can thrive tomorrow," said PCMA and president and CEO Sherrif Karamat, who also holds the same positions with the Corporate Event Marketing Association.

The ELI team, including founder and CEO Howard Givner, will join PCMA's ranks. Givner's new role will be senior vice president of knowledge and learning for the organization. In addition, ELI's 800 existing members, subscribers and business partners will be folded into the business in the coming weeks. 

Givner echoed Karamat's message on the importance of innovation and education to help future-proof the industry. "We need to be more agile in developing new skills to adapt to whatever comes next. This is going to require a big effort and that means we need big partners," he said. "With PCMA's resources, global reach and industry leadership, we're going to take meetings learning and innovation to the next level."

ELI's model fills a need within the association, Karamat noted, adding that Givner brings "incredible agility in listening, in understanding what people are looking for, and then finding solutions to help... Very candidly, PCMA needs to be better at that."

PCMA also announced the acquisition of the Event Marketing Association — U.K., a community of more than 800 corporate event marketing professionals across a variety of industry segments and brands. The organization will immediately become part of the PCMA portfolio, building on the integration of CEMA, which was acquired by PCMA in 2020. PCMA has been looking to expand the scope and membership of CEMA, which was founded in Northern California and initially was comprised largely of event marketers at tech companies.

"We want to continue to grow in the tech space across the United States," Karamat said, " as well as in other verticals such as financial services, pharma, insurance, etc. But content, learning and networking do not have barriers."

That's where the EMA acquisition comes in. "It's giving us the perfect launchpad to move across to Europe for event marketers," Karamat added.

EMA was founded in 2013, exclusively for in-house U.K. corporate event professionals. "We've grown our membership from a handful of like-minded individuals to currently just under 1,000 members across the U.K., achieving a lot along that journey, through knowledge exchange and collaboration across our membership," explained EMA chair Richard Waddington. "PCMA will bring far greater resources and capabilities, opportunities for greater growth, and most important, far greater value for our members and partners."

New Partnerships Put Climate Change, DEI at the Forefront

Recognizing that climate change poses one of the biggest threats to the global business-events industry, PCMA had developed a strategic partnership with the American Geophysical Union to drive action on sustainability. The international scientific association will work with PCMA on the following five goals:

  1. Designing sustainable events;
  2. Driving discussions on climate change; 
  3. Recognizing innovation and thought leadership within the industry;
  4. Providing resources and education to help support the business-events community; and
  5. Collecting data and establishing goals for reducing the carbon footprint of meetings.

Karamat noted that the partnership would allow PCMA to collaborate with climate experts and scientists, leading the charge towards a more sustainable future. "This is our opportunity to step in front of issues, instead of being in this constant hamster wheel where we are just reacting and reacting. We cannot afford to react," he said.

The collaboration with the niche scientific organization is the beginning of a broader program, Karamat added. "We're starting with AGU but we are going to include other partners, and I hope you all will come along on this journey with us."

PCMA also plans to strengthen its partnership with the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals, which is a co-locating partner of Business Events Industry Week, to be held March 6-9 in National Harbor, Md.