Partners and Regional Leads
Jon Sivertson - CEO
Jon joined GainingEdge as CEO in October, 2019. Bringing over 20 years of experience to our team, Jon previously worked for four years in Hong Kong, first as Capital Projects & Infrastructure group leader for PwC and then in infrastructure consulting for KPMG. Prior to that, he worked with PwC in Canada, New Zealand and Singapore where he served for 7 years with PwC’s infrastructure group and was instrumental in it achieving its current status as a Centre of Excellence for the PwC network in SE Asia, Hong Kong and China.
He is a specialist in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP projects) including finance as well as project advisory. In all cases, his work involved managing consulting teams, mostly in relation to infrastructure projects and he has in-depth experience consulting both governments and private sector developers.Email Jon Sivertson
Jon has a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Victoria and an MBA from the University of Alberta, Canada.
Gary Grimmer - Executive Chairman
Gary has over 30 years’ experience in the convention industry. In 2004 he founded GainingEdge, a global consulting company that offers advisory services in relation to destinations, convention bureaus and convention and exhibition centres. It also provides convention and incentive sales representation services in all of the world’s key markets. The company’s services are end-to-end, with specialist expertise and global networks that cover both the supply and demand sides of the market. GainingEdge also manages the BestCities Global Alliance which is comprised of 12 of the world’s leading destinations. Gary has consulted at the local and national level on over 100 projects in all parts of the world.
Previously Gary was the CEO of Convention and Visitor Bureaus in Melbourne (Australia), Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) and Portland (Oregon, USA.) He also served as Vice President for the Boston (Massachusetts, USA) bureau. His convention centre consulting experience includes market feasibility, demand analysis, facility scoping, design review, site review and operational consultation for convention centre developments. He also served on the London International Convention Centre Commission.
Gary was one of the lead consultants on Destination Next, a global study for Destinations International (DI) which defined the future of destination marketing. He is a former Chairman of the Board of DI and was one of the first six inductees into the inaugural Dl Hall of Fame in 2014. He also received the Asia Pacific IMEX Academy Award in 2007.Email Gary Grimmer
Mike Williams - Senior Partner & Consultant
Mike is a destination and convention and visitor bureau specialist with 30 years’ experience in the tourism and business events industry. Since joining Gaining Edge in 2007 he has been a lead consultant on destination and convention bureau development for clients in Australia, Africa, China, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Qatar, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom & USA. Mike was the lead consultant for establishment and capability strengthening for the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau. This project included the collaboration with a university and research company to undertake an economic impact study and exhibition industry opportunity study. Mike was also deeply involved in bureau development programmes in Japan, Macao and Thailand. He has also been providing consultancy support for convention centre developments around the globe, including a number within the Asia Pacific region. In addition, Mike oversees GainingEdge's in-market sales representation.
Mike served as General Manager Sales & Marketing for the Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau. During his tenure, he was involved in the National Business Events economic impact study and Melbourne Delegate Expenditure survey in collaboration with a university and research company. He also worked in senior marketing roles with Tourism Australia helping establish their presence in the Asia market and overseeing travel trade development in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Mike was instrumental in the development of AIME, the largest MICE tradeshow in the Asia Pacific and the world’s first BestCities Global Alliance which includes Singapore as a partner. Mike is also a past Victorian State Chair and National President of Meetings and Events of Australia (MEA).Email Mike Williams
Senior Partner & Consultant
Rod Kamleshwaran - COO & Partner
Rod leads GainingEdge’s Convention & Exhibition Centre advisory team. His areas of expertise include development and asset management of Hotels and Venues. His advisory experience includes feasibility studies, operational reviews, design reviews and operator selection and contract negotiations.
Having advised on projects across all continents Rod brings a broad global perspective. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Italy, Norway, Cyprus, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Jordan, Israel and Mexico.
Rod was previously at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) as a regional CFO. As asset manager for owned/leased hotels and venues he was involved from development stage to opening. He started his consulting career at PwC where he held senior roles and was involved in numerous feasibility studies. Rod has an MBA and a Bachelor of Commerce, and is a Chartered Accountant.Email Rod Kamleshwaran
COO & Partner
Bruce Redor - Partner - Europe
Based in Paris, Bruce Redor is an Anglo-American who has seen his international career develop over a 25-year period in a variety of sectors within the hospitality and services industries.
Bruce has Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley and came to France as Director of Marketing at the American Hospital of Paris. He then joined the CEGOS Consulting Group in Paris, leading projects in strategic planning and marketing for multi-national corporations. Bruce was a member of the management team that built and operated Disneyland Paris where he set up and ran the successful business unit for meetings and incentives: Disneyland Paris Business Solutions. He was also the CEO of the Lyon Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he was instrumental in turning the city into one of Europe's leading business-travel and leisure destinations. Bruce was also a senior consultant with Alexander Hughes International, one of Europe’s leading executive search firms.
Since he had been with GainingEdge, Bruce has been involved in consulting engagements in France, Spain, Flanders, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Rwanda, Tanzania, Qatar and Japan.Email Bruce Redor
Partner - Europe
Chloé Menhinick - Partner – Association Consulting
Chloé has 15 years’ experience of working in the Associations Industry, providing leadership across all areas of Association management & operations, membership, stakeholder engagement, communications and marketing. She has various leadership positions on Boards, advisory bodies and expert committees, where she has demonstrated effective experience in strategic planning and implementation.
Chloé worked at the International Water Association from 2005 to 2018 where she was responsible for developing and executing a global growth and engagement strategy for a network of +60K members including national members, corporates, universities and individuals. Her professional experience includes international management and leadership, membership management, membership retention & growth, change management, strategic planning, organisational communications, digital engagement, awards & events management, sponsorship and partnership development, committee management, programme development, internal communications and brand management.
As a globally recognised thought leader in the Association sector, Chloé is a regular speaker on issues pertaining to Membership, Communications and Digitalisation at many industry events and also regularly contributes to industry magazines on issues ranging from Communicating Brand Value to Association Impact & Legacy.Email Chloé Menhinick
She is a nominated Active Member of the Union of International Associations (UIA) and a Board Member of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) where she also chairs the Communications & Membership committee.
Partner – Association Consulting
Bilal Al Barmawi - Partner – Middle East
Bilal has a broad industry background, specialising in exhibitions & event management, as well as meetings, Incentives and conferences. He has actively consulted in the business events industry throughout the Middle East. Originally from Jordan he maintains offices in Dubai, Riyadh and Amman.Email Bilal Al Barmawi
He is Founder and CEO of 1st Arabia Exhibitions and Conferences Organizers which is a leading exhibition and events management company in the Middle East. He is the advisor and consultant for the Saudi National Program, and the managing director of the Saudi Events Management Academy – Conference & Exhibitions. He has venue management experience and is the official middle east representative for Fera Barcelona.
Bilal is also the current Chairman of the Middle East & North Africa Chapter of the International Organization of Exhibition and Events (IAEE).
Bilal Al Barmawi
Partner – Middle East
Thulani Nzima - Partner - Africa
Thulani has a broad convention and tourism industry background spanning almost 30 years. He is the former CEO of South African Tourism and oversaw the establishment of Africa’s first national convention bureau, the South African National Convention Bureau, a project supported by GainingEdge.
Thulani’s career includes working for South African Airways in various senior executives roles including 4 years working in Europe as General Manager for the Benelux countries. Other senior roles at SA Airways include Market Development Manager for the Middle East, Australasia and the Americas.
Thulani was the CEO of SA Travel Centre which he expanded into Regional African markets and introduced the master brand strategy technology. He established SA Travel Centre’s Inbound Tour Operating arm which became SAA’s official Tour Operator.Email Thulani Nzima
Partner - Africa
Jane Vong Holmes - Senior Manager – Asia
Jane joined GainingEdge in June 2009, at that time as Associate, and later as Senior Manager Asia, focused on GainingEdge’s business and relationships in Asia. She helped establish GainingEdge’s signature events GainingLeads and GainingEdge Knowledge Exchange which takes place annually at IMEX and ICCA Congress.
Prior to this role, Jane served for 8 years as Regional Director Asia Pacific for the International Congress & Convention Association – ICCA. During her tenure, the ICCA Asia Pacific Regional Office established a research unit dedicated to studying association meetings and supplementing the market intelligence efforts of ICCA’s Head Office in Amsterdam. She had also worked in Malaysia’s National Tourist Office, Tourism Malaysia and served as the Deputy Director (Overseas) for Tourism Malaysia’s Sydney Office for four years.
Jane was honoured with the IMEX Academy Award – Asia Pacific in 2013. She has served two terms (2014-2017) as Deputy Chair of ICCA Asia Pacific Chapter. She co-authored two UNWTO publications on the Asia Meetings Industry (2012, 2017), and will release a report on Accessibility in the Meetings Industry, a joint project with BestCities and Rehabilitation International, in Nov 2018.Email Jane Vong Holmes
Jane Vong Holmes
Senior Manager – Asia
Paul Vallee - Executive Consultant - Americas
Paul is Executive Consultant – Americas, with GainingEdge. He has provided consulting advice in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Panama, Denmark and Thailand, and has been an invited speaker in Europe, North America and South America.
Paul is also Managing Director of the BestCities Global Alliance, the world’s leading partnership of convention bureaus. He provides strategic leadership and is responsible for the performance of the Alliance on behalf of the 12 partners on six continents. Prior to his current role, Paul spent more than 25 years in destination sales, marketing and services management. He has extensive experience managing complex organizations, strategic planning with diverse stakeholders, and destination master planning.
Paul has served on the boards of Destination Marketing Association International, the 2010 Winter Olympic Bid Marketing Committee, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, and the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Task Force. He is a past faculty member in international destination marketing at Capilano University.Email Paul Vallee
Executive Consultant - Americas
Debbie Canavan - Director of Finance
Debbie has held the position of Director of Finance for the company for the past 13 years.
Prior to that she was Administrator of the Sandringham Soccer Club in Melbourne Australia. In that position she was responsible for all aspects of management of the 800+ member club including membership and registration, fundraising, website development, and club finances.Email Debbie Canavan
Director of Finance
Nigel Brown - Project Manager
Nigel Brown is responsible for a number of projects at GainingEdge, ranging from IT projects to business development for the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. He started his career at the head office of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) in Amsterdam. He was part of the event organising team of ICCA and served for 7 years organising a host of ICCA events on all continents. During his tenure, he gained extensive project management skills and was responsible for implementing new technologies at ICCA events.
Prior to joining GainingEdge, Nigel worked as Project Manager for Singex Exhibition Ventures, the event organising arm of the Singapore EXPO. During his time at Singex, he gained experience working on trade and consumer shows and conferences. This all-round experience has given him insights into both the client and supplier side of the events industry and is put to good use at GainingEdge.
Nigel holds a Bachelor of Hotel Administration, Bachelor of European Hospitality Management from the Hotel school The Hague, and a culinary diploma from the Amsterdam College of Hotel and Gastronomy.Email Nigel Brown
Esther Ng - Business Development Manager- South East Asia
With close to 25 years’ experience in the tourism, hospitality and business events market Esther joined the Travel Industry as Corporate Sales Manager handling bids for Business Event, Incentives and Leisure travel and was also operationally involve in the event management.
During this time Esther secured an extensive network of multinational clients within South East Asia. She is a meticulous organizer and believes good service comes from a humble altitude and not just strict performance of a duty.
In 1998 Esther set up her own company representing hotels in SE Asia and Australia seeking to create more market awareness specifically on Business Events and Incentive Travel targeting the Travel Industry and Corporate companies in Singapore and Malaysia.
With her destination and hotel knowledge, Esther is also a MICE consultant for Multi National Corporate companies. She manages their Annual Conferences mostly in the SE Asia and China. Her main clients are from the IT Software Companies and average group size of 50 to 200 participants.
With her passion in people relationship and providing good service she now spends her free time mentoring the young joining the hospitality industry. Esther has a certification as an ACTA trainer (Advance Certificate in Training).Email Esther Ng
Business Development Manager- South East Asia
Julia Yong - Business Development Manager
Julia, based in Kuala Lumpur, is a business development and sales support specialist for the association market having worked with the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau international bid team.
Julia has close to 5 years’ experience as a destination marketer specializing in promoting Malaysia
and has worked with over 150 associations. In 2016, she was awarded the PCMA's Twenties in their Twenties (a recognition for young professionals in the meetings industry) making her the first person from Asia to receive the award. Julia is a marketer in the medical field for Asia Pacific where she specialises in lead generation and digital marketing implementations. Julia started her engagement with GainingEdge in 2017 to assist with lead development and research covering the association market.Email Julia Yong
Business Development Manager
Caryn Wong - Management Assistant
Based in Kuala Lumpur, Caryn joined GainingEdge as its Management Assistant in July 2012. She provides management support to the company's Corporate Office and also works closely with GainingEdge's Asian Office to build and manage its Asian clientele.
Prior to joining GainingEdge, Caryn worked for one of Malaysia's leading destination management company and professional congress organiser where she served as a personal assistant to the Group Managing Director of Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel and AOS Conventions & Events for 14 years. Earlier in her career, Caryn has worked as a Secretary to the Owner/Accountant of a Malaysian based accounting firm which later became internationally affiliated and provided administration support in a property development company.Email Caryn Wong
Faye Langley - Business Development Manager
Faye joined GainingEdge in March 2010. Faye’s projects include primarily representation and business development consultancy for a variety of GainingEdge’s clients. Faye is also the project manager for the GainingLeads Exchange whereby GainingEdge clients are encouraged to exchange bid intelligence with each other.
Previously, Faye has provided clients with training, research and business development consultancy in numerous regions throughout the world. She is an experienced business development manager working with convention bureaus, venues and professional conference organisers.
Prior to joining GainingEdge she served as the Business Development Executive, in the international sales team at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. She was responsible for helping and encouraging national and international associations to bring their conferences to Sydney. Earlier in her career Faye worked in the sales team at the Melbourne Convention Bureau (formerly Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau).Email Faye Langley
Business Development Manager
Jane Cunningham - Business Development Manager
Based in Stockholm, Jane joined GainingEdge December 2009 and has been doing Business Development for BestCities Global Alliance since then. Before joining GainingEdge Jane was the Sales Director for Congrex UK, an international professional conference organisation. Prior to that, she spent five years at the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) in Association Sales. Before returning to Scotland Jane worked in Dubai for Le Meridien Hotel as a Sales Manager.
Jane studied French, Italian and Tourism and after college she spent a number of years overseas working in the hospitality and tourism industry. She was an active member of ICCA and was on the ICCA UK & Ireland committee.
Jane has a passion for networking and connecting people, not to mention promoting the impact that conferences have on a destination and how collaboration can result in positive outcomes globally.Email Jane Cunningham
Business Development Manager
Lesley Williams - Business Development Consultant
Working in international sales and marketing for over 25 years, Lesley Williams has headed up the Business Tourism arm of Marketing Edinburgh, for the last 7 years before joining GainingEdge.
Leading 8 specialists in the Convention Edinburgh team, Lesley’s priority focus was to source and secure successful bids for international and national conferences for Edinburgh, the result of which saw Edinburgh rise to 27 in the ICCA World Rankings.
Very active in Scottish business tourism industry, Lesley sits on a number of committees focused on raising the profile of Scotland as a world leading conference destination. This included an active role as both Committee member and Chair for two years, in the creation of the Annual Business Tourism for Scotland, a conference that attracted over 300 industry professionals.
Lesley participates fully in the wider tourism arena sitting on international tourism committees. She is currently Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter where her aim is to ensure ICCAUK&I grows from strength to strength and continues to deliver for its members through an inspiring education programme and through business development opportunities.
Previous experience includes business development for international hotel chains and prestigious caterers and eight years as Director of Sales at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), playing a key role in taking EICC into operational profit in 2003 through the development of key international and national association and corporate business.
With Edinburgh being a founding partner of the BestCities Global Alliance, Lesley plays an active part in the alliance helping shape strategy and business development.Email Lesley Williams
Business Development Consultant
Milos Milovanovic - Consultant
Based in Belgrade, Milos Milovanovic has expertise in the activation and development of convention bureaus and destination marketing in emerging regions. He has over 10 years' experience in the meetings industry and has consulted on projects in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Rwanda. Prior to joining GainingEdge, Milos was the CEO of Serbia Convention Bureau where he was instrumental in its establishment and development. Under his leadership, the bureau has made constant progress in ICCA rankings (International Congress and Convention Association) making the top 50 globally.
Milos has a diploma in Economics from the University of Belgrade and Master’s degree from Ecole Centrale Paris. In his previous career as marketing and project management specialist he has worked with universities, business associations, international donors and AID agencies creating a number of educational and training programmes in the hospitality and meetings industry.Email Milos Milovanovic
Dennis Campbell - Senior Manager - Sales Support
Dennis Campbell held numerous posts in the aviation and tourism sectors as the operations director of a general aviation firm, key sales/marketing management position at Southwest Airlines, as Vice President of the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors' Bureau, and General Manager of the New Mexico State Fairgrounds operations (5th largest in the USA). During his tenure in the travel and hospitality industry, he (and the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau) were awarded the Marketer of the Year award (1991 New Mexico Chapter of AMA) and honored with a "Dennis Campbell day" via Mayoral Executive Order (1996) for record contributions to economic impact through tourism and convention development, the only tourism official in Albuquerque, NM to receive such recognition to date.
As a Senior Associate at GainingEdge, Dennis specializes in our convention (MICE) bid coaching training modules and as a speaker and workshop facilitator for MICE related topics.Email Dennis Campbell
Senior Manager - Sales Support
Philippa Durrant - Business Development Director - North America
Philippa Durrant has over 20 years of experience working in the North American MICE market. She has represented international Destination Management Companies since 1996. In 2012 Philippa opened Arena Destination Marketing for the purpose of representing the city of Cannes and expanded the client base to include Association Management Companies and Associations that operate internationally. Most recently Philippa has worked with destinations across Europe and Asia including Vienna, Barcelona, London, Tokyo. Philippa has partnered with GainingEdge to provide in market representation services for GE clientele.
Philippa has a team of Sales and Marketing professionals who travel throughout the USA and Canada and attend all major trade shows representing our various destinations.Email Philippa Durrant
Business Development Director - North America
Alicia Yao Hong - Business Development Consultant
Based in Beijing, China, Alicia is a Business Development Consultant for South Africa. She is responsible for supporting South Africa National Convention Bureau’s goal to build South Africa’s profile as a business events destination and help grow business sourced from China.
Alicia is a member of Site, MPI, PCMA and ICCA and had her professional training for PCO by IAPCO. She has had successful events delivery and supplier relations experience as it relates to event marketing and creative services. Alicia had 30 years working experience in CITS with full management and sales skills in leisure travel, luxury travel, business travel, incentive programmes, corporate meetings & events, international association conferences, international exhibitions & trade shows and city promotional events. Alicia is experienced in creativity and design, marketing and promotion, bidding documents preparation, logistic and operation management as well as being a special columnist of M.I.C.E China Magazine.
Alicia is now the General Manager of IME Consulting Co., Ltd, the only ICCA member in China which is focusing on destination promotion and marketing consultancy. She is a moderator of IT&CM China, CIBTM, CMIC (China Meetings Industry Convention), China International Meeting Industry Week Chengdu Summit and Chongqing Summit. Alicia Yao is the vice Chairman of Site China Chapter and deputy general secretary of China M.I.C.E Committee.Email Alicia Yao Hong
Alicia Yao Hong
Business Development Consultant
Olivia Jia - Business Development Manager
Olivia is working as a business development manager for several convention bureaus and destination management companies in the major international MICE destinations with broad experience in international business development and event consultation. Olivia is the Deputy Secretary- General of China Business Event Federation and Chairman of SITE China Young Leader’s Committee.
Olivia is the Editor of "China Social Organization" magazine which focuses on Chinese association market with 100,000 distributions in China and fully under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, P.R. China.
Prior to working for IME Consulting Co., Ltd, Olivia served as the Marketing Manager in the International Business Development Department of China National Convention Center. She was responsible for preparing Annual Department International Promotional Activities Plan and Annual International Advertising Plan.Email Olivia Jia
Olivia holds Master of Applied Economics from Ohio University and Bachelor of Economics from Xiamen University.
Business Development Manager
Vishalakshi Vuyyala - Business Development Consultant
Based out of Hyderabad, India, Vishala has 15 years' experience in Business Events Industry.
A Management Graduate with a specialized diploma in Meetings Management, Vishala has unique experience in working with India’s first International Convention Center and also India’s first regional Convention Bureau in Hyderabad. She has handled numerous projects in the areas of Conference Management, Convention Centre Sales, Convention Bureau Marketing, Destination Marketing & Development, In market sales representation, bid preparations and Government Liaising.
As an affiliate of GainingEdge, Vishala worked in delivering successful assignments in South Africa and Sri Lanka in the areas of Business Development and Market Assessment studies. She is a regular speaker and presenter on National & International platforms on topics related to destination marketing, liveable cities and community building.Email Vishalakshi Vuyyala
Business Development Consultant
Shogo Kaneda - Associate - Japan & Korea
Shogo worked for Korean DMC based in Tokyo to start his career in business event industry and later, joined MICE consulting company in Tokyo.
His expertise is in destination marketing and business development and has been consulting for years. He is Korean Japanese and has a broad network in Japan and Korea business event industry.
He has been working with representative convention bureaus in Asia, such as Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau and Korea MICE Bureau under Korea Tourism Organization. He also has experience in managing venue and event marketing in Japan and Korea market.
As an associate of GainingEdge, he is responsible for in-market sales representation project for Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau and New Zealand Convention Bureau and, some bureau training projects in Japan and Korea.Email Shogo Kaneda
Associate - Japan & Korea
Japan & Korea
Molly Doheny - Business Development Manager
Molly has worked as a travel agent, tour operator, travel PR account director and destination marketing executive in a MICE and travel career that spans over 30 years.
In 1997 Molly joined what was then the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley Tourist Board as senior manager – Convention Bureau, and 3 years later was promoted to Head of the Glasgow Convention Bureau. Under Molly, the Glasgow Convention Bureau won Gold in the M&IT UK’s Best Convention Bureau award 6 times and the International Conference and Congress Association (ICCA) Best Marketing Award twice.
Molly was the Scottish Chair of BACD (British Association of Conference Destinations). She sat on the DMAI European Advisory Board and is an active member of ICCA, MPI, SITE and Eventia (now Evcom).
In 2011 Molly left the Glasgow Convention Bureau and is now a destination marketing consultant and has worked with clients in India, USA, South Africa and China. Molly started working with GainingEdge to provide part time representation for the South African National Convention Bureau for association sales across Europe.Email Molly Doheny
Business Development Manager
Anette Wezenberg - Business Development – Corporate & Incentive Europe
Anette is a MICE specialist in Europe with more than 25 years’ experience in the corporate market and meeting & events industry. She has worked for British Midland Virgin Atlantic and Swiss Air in the corporate market. Anette worked as a global sales manager for the KUONI Destination Management Network promoting more than 60 destinations around the world (including Dubai). Her main focus was introducing new destinations to the MICE market for KUONI. For the Tourism Board Tunisia, she was sales & marketing consultant. Anette was active in the promotion of destinations Cuba and Costa Rica. During the last years she was regional sales manager for more than 13 hotels in the Benelux and was responsible for the MICE market Europe. Anette worked with Synergy Business Events to recruit corporate and incentive buyers for Meetings Africa, Africa’s largest MICE trade show.
Anette speaks English (advanced), German (intermediate) and French (basic).Email Anette Wezenberg
Business Development – Corporate & Incentive Europe