In order to get to know our Hall of Famers better, CMEExpo will be interviewing inductees one by one after their induction. These interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Name: Bettyanne Sherrer
Inducted in: 2019
Category: The Big Idea
Currently working as: Principal, ProPlan Conferences & Events
CMEExpo: Tell us a little bit about your journey into meetings and events.
BS: My journey into the industry is not a usual one. It kind of started with the birth of my first child almost 30 years ago. So what is unique about my family is that I have two adult daughters with special needs. In the first 15-20 years in the industry, I didn’t share that. But I do now because it’s part of what brought me to this amazing industry.
Prior to the birth of my first daughter, I was in advertising. I was working my way up as an account executive working on some really great brands at some fantastic Toronto ad agencies. And then Rebecca was born and we had some challenges, and I knew that I couldn’t do the commute and the long hours anymore – so I needed to change my life.
So I did what anyone would do – I got on the phone with five or six executives that I knew and I sort of interviewed them and asked them, “What’s your pain point? What’’s not getting done?” And what emerged from those conversations, was this need for project management in events, especially. And that’s what interested me the most.
The next thing I did was I sought out a mentor and convinced him to invest in me a little bit. I aligned myself with him and another fabulous friend who was one of the best planners in the country and the three of us started ProPlan almost 30 years ago.
CMEExpo: What is your favourite part of the industry?
BS: Definitely the people. We’re all of a similar type. We’re all A-type personalities. There’s a lot of introverts seeded in our group, which makes in interesting, but for the most part, we’re hardworking, playful, dedicated professionals and we all, for the most part, share those values. And to me, there’s nothing better than a room full of event professionals.
CMEExpo: What sparked your interest in meetings and events?
BS: You know, events are really magical to me. And I knew that to be a part of building a foundation or a forum, that allows people to gather, and do intense work together, often results in people changing their mind or changing the way they’re going to do things. To me, that’s when the most powerful human reaction is.
To be the designer that would direct that, really appealed to me. And events are fun – let’s face it. So that’s why the industry appealed to me so much.
CMEExpo: Can you tell us about a favourite event you’ve been a part of?
BS: I’m gonna say my tenure as the global planner for MPI’s foundation. That stands out because, because of the partnerships that came to the table – the hotels, the caterers, the A/V companies, the list goes on – that supported those events to raise money for the industry. It was a big sandbox to play in and it allowed me to do some cool things while raising money for the industry. That was very rewarding.
The other event portfolio that stands out to me would be the Deafblind events. Over 20 years I’ve worked for the Deafblind Coalition locally and regionally and provincially. I’ve been working with them on an international conference. So the challenge of planning to support all of these individuals to a seamless conversation is some of the work I’m most proud of.
CMEExpo: You were inducted for The Big Idea; can you tell us what that meant to you?
BS: It was really exciting. I was inducted in 2013 as the Industry Planner, which was a massive honour. These awards are so important for our industry because they give us something to strive for. And then to be inducted for this project and to get to share it with Candace and Reggie, it was so great. I was so humbled.
CMEExpo: Do you have a dream event you’d like to plan?
BS: Yes — the party when this [pandemic] is over. I’ve put a lot of thought into it. I’ve been thinking about what the party would look like, where it would be, and things like that. I see every major Canadian artist performing. In my mind, we’d call The Hug Fest or something like that.